I'm a parent. I'm an eclectic pagan. Yes, my spirituality does play a major part in the way I parent. I very seriously believe that parenting is one of the most obvious examples of the rule of three working in the universe. Yes, everything we do as parents does very obviously come back to us!
Raising children in a pagan household has its own special concerns, largely because we live in a society in which paganism isn't the majority belief systems and isn't even as accepted as many other belief systems. Pagan parents don't have the same easy access to organizations, books or other resources that support our beliefs as Christian parents do. Thankfully the net is helping us to find more resources, but still - it isn't as if there's a big section of parenting books by pagan authors awaiting us on the shelves at Borders, is it?
As families, we can't find pagan spiritual communities just waiting for us on every corner. I've yet to see a pagan daycare center or school, but here in Georgia at least there are Christian schools and daycare centers everywhere. Even in public schools our children encounter teachers and faculty who assume that "of course everyone celebrates Christmas and Easter!" and don't stop to question the religious content in their little holiday worksheets and stories. Or, even worse, they find that their teachers and fellow students believe that pagans are devil worshippers. There aren't many pagan children's books published, and you don't see tiny little pentacles next to the crosses when you look for a gift for your child at the jewelry counter. I know of precisely one pagan youth group in the entire metro Atlanta area, which has a very large population. Our sons can't be Boy Scouts (not honestly, anyway, since the BSA is an expressly monotheistic organization requiring a religious oath of all members). While our daughters can (thankfully!) be Girl Scouts, they often encounter troop leaders and others who are not supportive, much less affirming, of pagan beliefs, no matter what the national and international Girl Scouts may have to say.
So - we have to create resources ourselves, and share the ones that exist. We truly need to support each other as pagan parents. We need to babysit with each other and do whatever it takes to give our children opportunities to play and learn with each other. Instead of being upset that there aren't pagan scouting and youth groups, we must start them. Instead of bemoaning the lack of support for pagan parents in homeschooling groups, we must start our own support groups. Instead of being upset that there aren't enough books for pagan parents, we need to write them. If we want pagan lullabies for our babies, we have to create them. If we want schools and daycare centers*, we need to start them - and support them! We need to educate school, government officials, and individuals about our beliefs. We need to vote with our wallets and support those businesses that support us, and politely let other businesses know why we're taking our money elsewhere. We need to be Girl Scout leaders and room mothers and religious education** teachers and otherwise be involved with our kids and other people's children, so they'll have positive examples of real pagans doing normal things - one of the best ways to fight prejudice and negative stereotypes.
And yes, I believe that we need to be out of the broom closet as much as possible. What kind of example is it to our children to hide our beliefs? Yes, we need to be honest with our children about the fact that many people don't believe the same way we do, and to prepare them to deal with prejudice. But we need to walk our paths openly, proudly, holding our children's hands and taking them alongside us until they are old enough to make informed choices about their beliefs on their own. I realize that there are people who cannot be in totally out about being pagan - believe me, having lived my entire life in the Bible Belt, I know! But be as open about it as you can responsibly be in your life. So maybe you put the pentacle pendant inside your shirt at work - but is it necessary to pretend that you're Baptists? I don't think so.
Resources for Pagan Parents
Links for Pagan Children
Books for Pagan Families
*I mention pagan schools and daycare centers because I've heard other pagans whining about the fact that they don't exist. I don't necessarily think sending children to schools or daycare centers - pagan or any other sort - is a good idea, but if you do want to send your kids to them, don't complain because they don't exist - create them!
**Yes, religious education teachers. RE is what Unitarian Universalist congregation call their "Sunday Schools". The UUA is supportive of pagans, and many of us have found that being active members of UU congregations is in many different ways an excellent decision for our families.
Last updated December 18, 2000
graphics created by Sam
Chupp and Cynthia Armistead
This file last modified 05/16/06