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Author Topic: When you discover Paganism and your kids are tweens/teens  (Read 3882 times)
herbalgoddess13
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« Topic Start: May 03, 2009, 11:28:57 pm »

Though I’ve had an interest in Paganism for years, I only recently started to study and practice my beliefs.  I’ve always been really open and honest with my kids and we’re very close.  I know it’s natural that they’re curious about my beliefs and I do enjoy sharing it with them when they’ve had questions or shown interest.  My daughter enjoys learning about things but still identifies as a Christian, which is great and I’ll continue to nurture whatever feels right to her.  My son (14) however, is fascinated and is really getting into things with me.  At age eight he became a self proclaimed atheist because he just didn't believe it.  Last year he started studying shamanism and Native American culture on his own because it fascinated him.  He’s always been an extremely analytical and curious kid and when he’s interested in something he’ll research it like crazy.

Today we attended a Beltane ritual and he absolutely loved it.  I was amazed at how much he got into the ceremony and when we got home he started setting up an alter in his room.  I know this is a natural progression for him, but my concern is that I don’t want to push my beliefs on him, while still nurturing his curiosity.  He's a pretty level head kid and he also told me tonight he won't say he's Pagan yet until he's sure it's not a phase.

Has anyone else had experience with talking to older kids, sharing beliefs but not pushing them? 
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« Reply #1: May 04, 2009, 03:05:13 am »

Though I’ve had an interest in Paganism for years, I only recently started to study and practice my beliefs.  I’ve always been really open and honest with my kids and we’re very close.  I know it’s natural that they’re curious about my beliefs and I do enjoy sharing it with them when they’ve had questions or shown interest.  My daughter enjoys learning about things but still identifies as a Christian, which is great and I’ll continue to nurture whatever feels right to her.  My son (14) however, is fascinated and is really getting into things with me.  At age eight he became a self proclaimed atheist because he just didn't believe it.  Last year he started studying shamanism and Native American culture on his own because it fascinated him.  He’s always been an extremely analytical and curious kid and when he’s interested in something he’ll research it like crazy.

Today we attended a Beltane ritual and he absolutely loved it.  I was amazed at how much he got into the ceremony and when we got home he started setting up an alter in his room.  I know this is a natural progression for him, but my concern is that I don’t want to push my beliefs on him, while still nurturing his curiosity.  He's a pretty level head kid and he also told me tonight he won't say he's Pagan yet until he's sure it's not a phase.

Has anyone else had experience with talking to older kids, sharing beliefs but not pushing them? 


I was just thinking about this now, as I was pretty much (and still am) exactly what your son seems like. Smiley I was probably the most read and most analytical and curious out of my group of friends, yet ended up the most religious, in a sense. Of course I don't think necessarily that's a paradox, and that our society just thinks and wants us to believe it is. Who knows, maybe after your son grew frustrated with the supposed "truth" about all religions he said "Screw it, I'm going to find out for myself!" and found something that really spoke to him, rather than taking the words of others. I have a friend who is like that but instead decided to not go looking for himself, and still pretty much rejects and ridicules anything religious (which, as of late, is starting to get worse and getting near-personal to me), and thinks all religion is some form of pseudo-Christianity with all-knowing gods and if they really do know all and are all powerful, why don't they take the pain away? So its pretty much all or nothing for him.

Okay, enough rambling out of me! Smiley I'm glad both of your children have open minds about this whole thing, and that they are happy.
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« Reply #2: May 04, 2009, 01:48:58 pm »

I was just thinking about this now, as I was pretty much (and still am) exactly what your son seems like. Smiley I was probably the most read and most analytical and curious out of my group of friends, yet ended up the most religious, in a sense. Of course I don't think necessarily that's a paradox, and that our society just thinks and wants us to believe it is. Who knows, maybe after your son grew frustrated with the supposed "truth" about all religions he said "Screw it, I'm going to find out for myself!" and found something that really spoke to him, rather than taking the words of others. I have a friend who is like that but instead decided to not go looking for himself, and still pretty much rejects and ridicules anything religious (which, as of late, is starting to get worse and getting near-personal to me), and thinks all religion is some form of pseudo-Christianity with all-knowing gods and if they really do know all and are all powerful, why don't they take the pain away? So its pretty much all or nothing for him.

Okay, enough rambling out of me! Smiley I'm glad both of your children have open minds about this whole thing, and that they are happy.

You bring up some interesting points.  I've been proud of my son for not judging others based on their beliefs, but he does get really angry when people tell him he's going to hell (oddly enough it happens a lot).  He's still studying shamanism and is fascinated with divination and healing I just want to make sure I'm nurturing his natural curiosity without pushing my beliefs on him.

I appreciate your perspective.  We're/are your family supportive of your beliefs?
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« Reply #3: May 04, 2009, 07:32:43 pm »

Today we attended a Beltane ritual and he absolutely loved it.  I was amazed at how much he got into the ceremony and when we got home he started setting up an alter in his room.  I know this is a natural progression for him, but my concern is that I don’t want to push my beliefs on him, while still nurturing his curiosity.  He's a pretty level head kid and he also told me tonight he won't say he's Pagan yet until he's sure it's not a phase.

Has anyone else had experience with talking to older kids, sharing beliefs but not pushing them? 
Sharing without inadvertently pushing might actually be harder for someone who isn't the teen's parent - a teen is really used to having parental influence and is at a time of life where s/he is challenging that influence, so s/he has internal structures/habits for saying, "Back off, Mom; my stuff isn't the same as your stuff even if they do have points in common."  Much variable mileage there, of course; f'ex, not all 14-year-olds have quite reached the point where they realize they can do that - but it sounds like your son started to get a handle on how to individuate himself, not just from you but from social convention, pretty early.

Non-parents who are in a position to influence a teen, though, are often there because the teen admires them, and sees them as a role model for differentiation/individualization from the family culture - as someone who's often been on close terms with teens I'm not related to, I'm very conscious of how they might be drawn to my beliefs/practices because those beliefs/practices resonate, or it might be simply because they want to emulate me.  Or both; most of my experience is with teens who are already drawn to paganism, so there's a component of actual personal resonance, and the question is how much.

That can also come into the parent-child relationship as well, if - as it sounds like in your case - there's a strong bond and the individuation process isn't conflictive.  But there are limits on what you can, or even should, do to avoid it - when a teen decides I'm someone s/he wants to emulate, maybe the stuff being emulated isn't what'll ultimately be the best fit for hir, but the emulation itself is hir choice.  My job is to be careful not to assume that choice implies that other choices have been made when they may not have (true when I'm mentoring someone of any age, but especially so for youngens).

In your case, it appears to me that you'll pretty much be fine applying the kind of parenting you're already doing - it's clear that you heard him when he said he wasn't ready to identify as pagan, and are respecting that; believing and respecting how young folks talk about where their heads are at rather than imposing your own inferences on what it means is three-quarters of it right there.  Especially true when dealing with a teen like your son, who quite evidently knows how to identify and articulate where his head is at, and isn't afraid/ashamed of saying, "I'm not sure yet."

Because he's got it together as well as he does, one thing you could do is just plain tell him you don't want to influence him too much, and let him know it's okay for him to say, "no, that bit doesn't work for me," or, "I need to drop this and focus on other things," or, "Back off, Mom!" - I'm guessing he already knows this, and that there'll be at least one, " Roll Eyes Oh, Mo-om Roll Eyes" in the convo, but it doesn't hurt to explicitly put it in the realm of Things Up For Discussion As Needed.  Let him take some of the responsibility for determining how much of your influence is too much - ultimately, that really is up to him anyway.

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« Reply #4: May 05, 2009, 11:40:43 am »

Has anyone else had experience with talking to older kids, sharing beliefs but not pushing them?

Yes.  It can be a very fine line to walk.

I have two daughters, one is 19 and the other is 17.  When they were very little, I was pretty much non-religious -- mostly because I just didn't have the energy to deal with it (small kids, part-time work, grad school, volunteer work, and taking care of my dying grandmother were all I could handle at the time).  Eventually, though, I had to get back to my spirituality and I had a lot of spirituality-related things to work through. 

Daughter2 has been a strong agnostic for many years.  And, although I'm happy to talk to her about religion, and she knows the basics of mine, she's just not interested.  OTOH, she has told me about some of her friends, who she says are "going through their pagan phase".  She usually seems rather proud of the fact that she can speak knowledgeably to them because of what she knows about me.  Apparently, she also gets points for having the coolest mom.   Cool

Daughter1, though, has been interested in paganism -- specifically, religious and non-religious witchcraft, I think -- for a long time.  However she doesn't really want to *talk* about it.  At least, not to me.  Like her sister, she is well aware of the generalities of my path, but she doesn't want to tell me much about hers.  Occasionally, she'll ask me for book/website recommendations.  But that's about it.

I'm really happy to support their religious explorations however I can.  But, since they're both so private about it, I find it very difficult to have those conversations.  I hope they know that they can ask me any questions they want to.

So I guess, in a way, my experience is the opposite of yours.   Cheesy  My kids have made it clear that they don't want me involved in their spirituality, so I don't really have to worry much about being too much of an influence.
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« Reply #5: May 08, 2009, 11:16:28 am »


Has anyone else had experience with talking to older kids, sharing beliefs but not pushing them? 

[/quote]

I have two daughters myself, one is 21 and the other is 20. The oldest has always had an interest in being a pagan/wiccan and I supported her looking at the religion and studying it. Her Mother (my ex- wife) didn't want her learning anything about it. We can to an understanding and my oldest continued learning. My youngest didn't want to have anything to do with me or my religion during her teen years, so I waited and was very tolerant of her views, needs and wants. I was always available to her and she knew it.

Last year, she moved in with her sister and is now a practicing Pagan. I should note that My oldest moved out of her mother's house and has been public as a Pagan since then. She is currently in the Army and has Pagan/Wiccan on her dogtags.

Now, their mother is studying the religion. Tolerance, and patience are the keys. Be available, present it and don't be surprised is they look at something else. Don't be hurt either, it is the "nature" of teenagers to be curious about things. All we can do as parents is to give them the options and steer them without pushing.

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« Reply #6: May 08, 2009, 11:50:29 am »

Sharing without inadvertently pushing might actually be harder for someone who isn't the teen's parent - a teen is really used to having parental influence and is at a time of life where s/he is challenging that influence, so s/he has internal structures/habits for saying, "Back off, Mom; my stuff isn't the same as your stuff even if they do have points in common."  Much variable mileage there, of course; f'ex, not all 14-year-olds have quite reached the point where they realize they can do that - but it sounds like your son started to get a handle on how to individuate himself, not just from you but from social convention, pretty early.

Non-parents who are in a position to influence a teen, though, are often there because the teen admires them, and sees them as a role model for differentiation/individualization from the family culture - as someone who's often been on close terms with teens I'm not related to, I'm very conscious of how they might be drawn to my beliefs/practices because those beliefs/practices resonate, or it might be simply because they want to emulate me.  Or both; most of my experience is with teens who are already drawn to paganism, so there's a component of actual personal resonance, and the question is how much.

That can also come into the parent-child relationship as well, if - as it sounds like in your case - there's a strong bond and the individuation process isn't conflictive.  But there are limits on what you can, or even should, do to avoid it - when a teen decides I'm someone s/he wants to emulate, maybe the stuff being emulated isn't what'll ultimately be the best fit for hir, but the emulation itself is hir choice.  My job is to be careful not to assume that choice implies that other choices have been made when they may not have (true when I'm mentoring someone of any age, but especially so for youngens).

In your case, it appears to me that you'll pretty much be fine applying the kind of parenting you're already doing - it's clear that you heard him when he said he wasn't ready to identify as pagan, and are respecting that; believing and respecting how young folks talk about where their heads are at rather than imposing your own inferences on what it means is three-quarters of it right there.  Especially true when dealing with a teen like your son, who quite evidently knows how to identify and articulate where his head is at, and isn't afraid/ashamed of saying, "I'm not sure yet."

Because he's got it together as well as he does, one thing you could do is just plain tell him you don't want to influence him too much, and let him know it's okay for him to say, "no, that bit doesn't work for me," or, "I need to drop this and focus on other things," or, "Back off, Mom!" - I'm guessing he already knows this, and that there'll be at least one, " Roll Eyes Oh, Mo-om Roll Eyes" in the convo, but it doesn't hurt to explicitly put it in the realm of Things Up For Discussion As Needed.  Let him take some of the responsibility for determining how much of your influence is too much - ultimately, that really is up to him anyway.

Sunflower
Thanks for your thoughts Sunflower, I homeschooled my son for many years and I think this made the dynamics of mother/son even more teacher/student.  Yes, he is VERY much his own person and he will tell me to back off.  But I still worry because being an parent/adult does put me in a position of power and I don't want to abuse it. 

This week he's been extremely curious and he's even asked me if he could borrow a few books so he could read more on his own.  It's funny though, he's much more interested in Wicca and Magic than I am, so I'm letting him read and discover on his own.  He did ask me to teach him to meditate and I laughed when he said "This is how you used to get me to sleep when I was younger".  Yes, that's exactly what I did.  He's a lot like me and finds meditation to be almost a second nature.  I'm glad he has that tool to help him relax and connect with himself and his thoughts. 

We had a long talk and I did tell him that I was concerned about pushing my thoughts and feelings on him.  Of course he laughed and told me that I can't make him think anything. 
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« Reply #7: May 08, 2009, 11:59:05 am »

Yes.  It can be a very fine line to walk.

I have two daughters, one is 19 and the other is 17.  When they were very little, I was pretty much non-religious -- mostly because I just didn't have the energy to deal with it (small kids, part-time work, grad school, volunteer work, and taking care of my dying grandmother were all I could handle at the time).  Eventually, though, I had to get back to my spirituality and I had a lot of spirituality-related things to work through. 

Daughter2 has been a strong agnostic for many years.  And, although I'm happy to talk to her about religion, and she knows the basics of mine, she's just not interested.  OTOH, she has told me about some of her friends, who she says are "going through their pagan phase".  She usually seems rather proud of the fact that she can speak knowledgeably to them because of what she knows about me.  Apparently, she also gets points for having the coolest mom.   Cool

Daughter1, though, has been interested in paganism -- specifically, religious and non-religious witchcraft, I think -- for a long time.  However she doesn't really want to *talk* about it.  At least, not to me.  Like her sister, she is well aware of the generalities of my path, but she doesn't want to tell me much about hers.  Occasionally, she'll ask me for book/website recommendations.  But that's about it.

I'm really happy to support their religious explorations however I can.  But, since they're both so private about it, I find it very difficult to have those conversations.  I hope they know that they can ask me any questions they want to.

So I guess, in a way, my experience is the opposite of yours.   Cheesy  My kids have made it clear that they don't want me involved in their spirituality, so I don't really have to worry much about being too much of an influence.
I really appreciate you sharing your experience with me it helps a lot to have another mothers perspective.  My daughter is much like your youngest #2, she's fascinated in what I'm doing/thinking.  She loves to play with my alter and ask me questions, but she has no real interest in participating.  I am a bit concerned right now because she's been talking to all her friends and cousins about Paganism and I get the impression it's more for shock effect than anything else.  Even my son has asked her to stop mentioning it to mutual friends and family because he's just not ready to 'come out' and share it with everyone around him.  I get the feeling she's trying to get attention this way.  Oh, I've got some work to do with her!

Like you, I want toe support their religious exploration.  My daughter is very private too, so I'm stepping back and also reminding her that it took me 40 years to be sure and really start practicing something that felt right to me.  I also assured her that she can always grow and change and her religious beliefs can too. 

Like I said above, I try to keep in mind that I am in a position of power just by being their mother and as you said, it can be a fine line to walk.  I think I just need to keep the lines of communication open and also continue to be aware of what I'm saying and doing.
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« Reply #8: May 08, 2009, 12:06:32 pm »

I have two daughters myself, one is 21 and the other is 20. The oldest has always had an interest in being a pagan/wiccan and I supported her looking at the religion and studying it. Her Mother (my ex- wife) didn't want her learning anything about it. We can to an understanding and my oldest continued learning. My youngest didn't want to have anything to do with me or my religion during her teen years, so I waited and was very tolerant of her views, needs and wants. I was always available to her and she knew it.

Last year, she moved in with her sister and is now a practicing Pagan. I should note that My oldest moved out of her mother's house and has been public as a Pagan since then. She is currently in the Army and has Pagan/Wiccan on her dogtags.

Now, their mother is studying the religion. Tolerance, and patience are the keys. Be available, present it and don't be surprised is they look at something else. Don't be hurt either, it is the "nature" of teenagers to be curious about things. All we can do as parents is to give them the options and steer them without pushing.

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Welcome to TC John.  Thank you for responding, I've been thinking about the other responses for a few days now, it's a lot to work through.  It's funny, my X is upset about this too and I don't think my son has shared with him just how much he believes and is practicing.  However, it did come up a few weeks ago and I told my X to please come to me with any questions or concerns.  He did ask me a few things and we had a decent discussion about it.  But I know how much he hated Paganism years ago and made snide comments about it.  It is likely because he didn't know enough about it and didn't understand.  Hopefully, he'll be open to more discussion so he too can help the kids on whatever path they chose. 

Yes it is in the nature of a teen to be curious and my son has proven to be a particularly curious young man!  He's interested in the darker side of things which I understand and feel is really normal for a young boy.  I'll continue to tyr and nurture his curiosity and try to guide him the best I can.
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« Reply #9: May 09, 2009, 04:35:27 am »





John Just a quick note. When responding to a post please endsure you leave in the Quote code header and footer - I've copied them below for refrence.

I't provides us a link back and allows us to check whats being responded to.

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