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Friday, November 16, 2012

Kids and Faith

There are certain questions that are commonly asked within the pagan community, and one that I see repeated at least once every few months is about raising children pagan. The exact phrasing of the question may change, but its always expressed in two core ways: should I raise my kids in my religion? and how do I teach my kids my beliefs?
   My answer to the first question is a simple yes. Of course you should raise your kids with your faith; if its important to you why wouldn't you want to share it with them? Now I'm obviously not talking about situations where there are legal reasons, such as a messy divorce, or extenuating circumstances, such as a pre-existing agreement with a non-pagan spouse, involved. But if you are actively practicing your religion and have children who you can include I really think you should, for several reasons. First of all it will create valuable family traditions around holidays that your children can cherish even if they grow up to believe something totally different. This will also create opportunities for family bonding and spending time together that, sadly, in our modern lives we often don't have much of. Secondly children generally like being included in things they know are important to you, at least in my experience. Thirdly it gives them a good understanding of your religion that will allow them later to make a decision about their own faith; related to that if you keep what you do and believe secret you may inadvertently teach them that your religion is something to be ashamed of or not good enough. Its entirely possible to raise your children in your religion without making it feel restrictive or forced, or teaching them that what you believe is the only option. I raise my daughters with my faith but they are free to go to other people's religious services or to study other options. I've never understood the idea that we should not raise our kids with our own religion because it will somehow take away their ability to choose for themselves. Finally, teaching your kids what you believe does, in theory, pass on the morals and guidelines for life that you have learned from your religion. Certainly this can be done in a secular way, but if you base your life on the 9 noble virtues, for example, why wouldn't you want your kids to have that same guideline to live with? Also if you love your religion enough to practice it, why wouldn't you want to share that with your children and give them that same opportunity to enjoy it?
    As to the second question, that one is easy - just include them in what you do and give direct answers to questions. My kindred is child-friendly and we have always had a policy that the kids are welcome to wander in and out of blot and participate if they want to. By myself I always give the girls the option of joining in with me if they want to. Rather than feeling forced or not wanting anything to do with it my kids would have me doing ritual every night if I let them talk me into it! They love hearing stories about the Gods and Goddesses as well as the other spirits and our ancestors. They enjoy celebrating our holidays. If anything I have trouble keeping up with their interest, which is bottomless. I have never gone out of my way to teach them about my faith, I just include them when I celebrate and I answer their questions. The closest I've ever come to intentionally teaching them anything religious is buying the children's books, like Kindertales, to read to them. I don't think as parents we need to try to teach it if we are giving them living examples to follow and learn from.


  1. That's great! I also make a habit of pointing out that if you don't give them a spiritual basis in SOMETHING while they are young, they are unlikely to develop it for themselves later.

    1. I agree. I've also heard it said that if you don't teach your kids religion, someone else will...

  2. A wonderful post! I've talked with dozens of pagan parents about this exact issue. I really like how you made the point that you can teach children without being forced or restrictive while still giving them the basis to make their own faith choices as they get older.

    I hadn't heard of Kinder tales but I'll definitely be checking it out for my own children. Thank you!