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Author Topic: When you discover Paganism and your kids are tweens/teens  (Read 3927 times)
SunflowerP
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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.

Sunflower
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