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Author Topic: Pagan Children in Public  (Read 3877 times)

NibbleKat

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Re: Pagan Children in Public
« Reply #30 on: September 21, 2012, 11:53:25 am »
Quote from: MadZealot;74664
Out of the mouths of babes oft times come gems.

Or... children say the damnedest things.

 
It's actually good to know that in at least two cases so far *points to above posts* things are positive! I like to see that, very much.
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Aster Breo

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Pagan Children in Public
« Reply #31 on: September 22, 2012, 03:33:33 pm »
Quote from: NibbleKat;74597
at least one person a week tells me to "have a blessed day".  


I get this a lot, but it's a fairly recent phenomenon -- last 5 or 6 years, I guess.

I grew up and still live in the Washington, DC, area.  I was raised Methodist.  Both my parents were lay leaders, and my brother and sister-in-law are pastors. I was active I the youth group and choir.  I was even the president of the youth group for a few years, until I started I asking the difficult questions and was summarily impeached. (True story.) That was the late 70s-early 80s.

Fast forward to my own kids.  Their dad and I were basically agnostic while they were young, and w did not attend church, despite my mother's best efforts.  I rediscovered paganism sometime while the girls were in elementary school, but I was still exploring and was very private about it.  The worst thing I remember them experiencing, w/r/t religion and friends, was a dispute with a close friend who was Catholic and told then they were going to hell because they didn't go to church.  Didn't seem to phase them.  There was also a huge issue with Moxie's middle school chorus teacher, who insisted on using Christian music. A LOT.  After we intervened, Moxie was excused from that part of classes and performances, but it was not handled well at all, and she was made to feel very uncomfortable about it.

During this whole time, I was in law school and then working for a child advocacy organization, and well aware of cases where kids were removed from homes because their parents were the wrong religion.  (Sometimes there were other factors or a "cover" issue; sometimes not.)  That absolutely terrified me.  If it had just been urban myth-type stuff, I probably would have ignored it.  But I knew people involved in some of the cases. And had read legal documents about others.  (I wish I could remember details, but it was too long ago.) So, while my kids were young, I stayed in the closet.  

As they got older, I became more open, with them and with people outside the family who I trusted, including a couple of their friends.  But always with the tacit understanding that this was something very private and not to be discussed with others.

It got harder, though, in a way, because that was the same time frame that it started to become socially acceptable (around here) for random strangers and acquaintances to ask about religion and tell people to "have a blessed day."

I remember being totally blindsided when my husband and I had been invited to meet the parents of a new friend of Moxie's. This was while she was a sophomore, I think.  The parents wanted to know who their kid was spending time with -- which I felt was totally reasonable -- so they invited us over for coffee.  It was clear from the beginning that we didn't have much in common, but we were just chatting.  Then, out of the blue, one of them asked, "Where do you fellowship?"

We were both totally thrown by the question -- largely because of the weird grammar (since when is "fellowship" a verb?!), but also because we'd never been asked that kind of thing by near-strangers before. I don't remember exactly how we answered.  We both knew they were pretty fundamentalist Christians, and we also knew that it was super-important to Moxie that we not give them any reason to distrust us.  Their daughter was allowed to spend a lot of time with us, so we must have answered satisfactorily.  ;)

We've gotten that kind of question more often since then, always by near-strangers, and we usually just dodge the question.  Oddly, or maybe not, our closest friends have never asked about religion -- even with my very obvious tats.  I guess they assume that they already know everything about us, since they've known us for so long.  To be fair, I haven't asked them about religion lately, either.

Anyway, now that my kids are both adults, I'm no longer worried that they could be taken from us, so I don't self-censor unless I have other reasons to be cautious.  I'm not in-your-face about my path, but if someone asks about the Brighid's cross I wear or the one tattooed on the back of my hand (which is pretty hard to miss), I tell them the truth.  How, exactly, I do that depends on who I'm talking to and how they're reacting.  But I'm no longer concerned that what I say about my own spirituality will come back to haunt my kids.  At least, not in any way they can't handle.  Neither of them wants me to feel like I have to closet myself at all.  (Did I mention they're wonderful people?  ;)  )

But, it was different when they were younger and more vulnerable.  And if I still had kids under 18, I'd still be very careful.

~ Aster
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NibbleKat

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Re: Pagan Children in Public
« Reply #32 on: September 24, 2012, 03:18:00 pm »
Quote from: Aster Breo;74760



But, it was different when they were younger and more vulnerable.  And if I still had kids under 18, I'd still be very careful.

~ Aster


Finally getting back to answering this, sorry!

Thank you for responding, and sharing so much, Aster.  These are the things I could imagine happening in and around my area in NC.  Maybe not the immediate areas necessarily, because I work in a Big University town where there's a lot of diversity, but at the same time, lots and lots and lots... and lots... of Christian churches.

I think a lot of it has to do with time frames.  Twenty years ago when I was growing up, NO WAY could I (had I been pagan at the time) have come out.  I'm so out of touch with teenagers that I don't know if the kids going to the same school I went to would be similar or totally different, accepting.

And I think that parts of the US (especially vs. the UK or other parts of the world) are much "worse" than others for being intolerant.  Heck, even one part of a state compared to another part of a state can be vastly different.
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Aiwelin

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Re: Pagan Children in Public
« Reply #33 on: September 24, 2012, 05:45:59 pm »
Quote from: NibbleKat;74493
How do you say it's okay but "not okay" to be what you are?

Or, if you're fine with a child talking about it in public/non-pagan settings, how do you deal with that?

 
This is a question I've been struggling with a lot lately.  We live in the middle of the Midwest, big bible country, and as my eldest has just entered preschool it's brought a lot of questions to my mind.  I've always been very open about my faith, telling my daughter what I believe and why; and my husband has always been very open about his lack of faith (sometimes less than respectfully re:monotheistic religions).  His family is devoutly Muslim, and mine is pretty fundamentalist Christian; so they'd be less than pleased to learn that I was Pagan and teaching my daughter about it as well.  We read a great deal of myths from around the  world, so when she mentions a god or goddess I guess they just assume it's from a myth she's read recently.  When we celebrate Pagan holidays I frame it in natural terms for her - 'Autumnal Equinox', 'Harvest Party' for Lughnasadh, etc.  Relatives just assume I'm a very earthy hippie (which I am, so fair enough!).  

As she grows older and is more interested in participating in public ritual with the local Wiccan coven, my own solitary Druidic ritual, and even going to the mosque with my in-laws, we'll have to address it more.  I've already picked up on some weirdness surrounding my children's Muslim names, though I don't know if it would be more or less weird for them to be Pagan given the 'terrorist' associations that many people buy in to around here.  In response to this, we've had many talks about how all people are different and have different ways of living, but that some people don't appreciate differences as they should.  I've told my daughter that if someone is ever rude to her or says something mean about her, that she needs to ignore that person and remember that differences are GOOD, and make the world a better place.  I may go that same route talking specifically about religion as well, but I'm not sure.  I'm not really 'out' to anyone but my husband and my children; so her (and later my other children) talking openly about ritual would be quite awkward for me, and I'm not sure I want her to see that awkwardness as it may set a bad example for her self-esteem.  During my own childhood I was tormented for my differences - and honestly, I wasn't even that 'different'!  I'm hoping that things will be better for her, given that times have changed a bit, but I'm not so sure.

I'm not sure this is a question that can be answered by those who are still raising children - maybe only by those who have finished the process (if it can ever be 'finished'!).  I'm doing the best I can; but as in all things, I'm just not sure how it will turn out for my children.  However, I'm not going to let my fear stop me from teaching my children what I believe to be right - celebrating the earth, treating it with respect, and remembering the peoples that we come from.

Quote from: Aster Breo;74760
But, it was different when they were younger and more vulnerable.  And if I still had kids under 18, I'd still be very careful.


I want to address this as well, as 'alternative religion' being used against parents is a well-known phenomena to me, and I am also very worried about it.  Should we ever have CPS called, or should my husband and I ever separate, I know my religion may be used against me.  I'm fairly confident that should such a problem ever arise, I will be able to navigate it - my dad is a very good attorney, and unlike my mother's side of the family is very accepting, and I know he would support and fight for me to the best of his ability.  But I still live in fear of it.
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Castus

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Re: Pagan Children in Public
« Reply #34 on: September 25, 2012, 09:29:12 pm »
Quote from: NibbleKat;74493
...how do these children deal with being pagan in a public setting, especially in a school setting?

I don't know about other pagan children and how they deal with it, but it's rather a bit of a non-issue here. Religion rarely comes up at school or other such places and if so it is usually handled with tact and respect. So far my policy is not to go about in a toga, but to still be honest if asked. Granted, this is still Virginia so it's more common to see an emphasis on Christianity. But it's not like I'm going to go to See You At The Pole and offer up a prayer to the Divine Claudius.

NibbleKat

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Re: Pagan Children in Public
« Reply #35 on: September 26, 2012, 11:52:59 am »
Quote from: Castus;75076
I don't know about other pagan children and how they deal with it, but it's rather a bit of a non-issue here. Religion rarely comes up at school or other such places and if so it is usually handled with tact and respect. So far my policy is not to go about in a toga, but to still be honest if asked. Granted, this is still Virginia so it's more common to see an emphasis on Christianity. But it's not like I'm going to go to See You At The Pole and offer up a prayer to the Divine Claudius.

 I'd love to see someone walk into a public school in a toga, personally.  Or anywhere in Virginia. I bet you could get away with it in school, though, as an adult-- everyone would be thinking you're there to give a lesson.
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