Pagan Parenting and Why My Kids Aren’t Pagan

Anya and Ella

I have to admit that sometimes parenting as a Pagan woman can be hard. The desire to raise my children in my faith is there, but instead I am raising my daughters to think freely and openly about religion, and in doing so, I tend to focus less on my faith than perhaps I would like. I read a study that was published in 2014 that cited that children exposed to religion at an early age have a hard time distinguishing fact from fiction.

“Children who went to church or were enrolled in a parochial school, or both, judged the protagonist in religious stories to be a real person, whereas secular children with no such exposure to religion judged the protagonist in religious stories to be fictional.” – Corriveau, Chen, Harris.

This is a big deal, in my opinion. Critical thinking and reasoning skills are vital, and if exposing our children to something like religion too early – specifically teaching children one religion and denying that other religions exist, or worse – teaching intolerance towards those of a specific faith, can harm the development of those skills, then I wonder why we as collective parents allow this to happen at all.

I grew up sort of eclectically religious – my father, as far as I can remember, saw himself as Wiccan, but I was allowed to explore any religion I wished. I went to a Mennonite Church, a Baptist Church, Catholic, non-denominational, and even a Pentecostal one. My favorite was the Unitarian Universalist church that I was only able to visit once. Wicca has always seemed too rigorous for me in certain concepts, so I classify my religious beliefs as eclectic paganism. I am a Hearth Witch. My ‘magic’ goes towards my home. I clean and cook and make this apartment we have a home for my family and in doing so, I am worshiping the best way that I know how.

My daughters are not religious. Or at least, they wouldn’t be, had I not made the grave mistake of allowing them to go to church when they were toddlers. They didn’t go that often. My thought was simply that they were spending valuable time with family members. For the past few years, however, I’ve been struggling when discussing religion with them at all. The girls were “infected with Jesus” as some of my atheist friends like to put it. I am wholeheartedly opposed to indoctrination of any kind, and that is exactly what happened. I’ve had to console my oldest daughter after she was brought to tears because someone told her that my lack of religion would send me to Hell. How is that an okay thing to tell a child? How do you tell a child her parents are going to hell because they don’t go to church?

One of the key things I would like to include in our homeschooling journey is to introduce the children to a wide variety of religions and world views. When we have our discussions, I stress that the things I am telling them are simply the beliefs of certain people, and in general, not much can be verified as solid fact. It is important to me that my children (and all others, if I’m being honest, but I recognize that I have no control over that) discover their beliefs themselves, after much reading, and after they have lived life for a decent enough amount of time to make such decisions.

I can only hope I’m going about this the right way. I suppose that’s what all parents worry about though, isn’t it? “Am I royally fucking up my kid?” Let’s be honest: my biggest goal as a parent is to give them a childhood they don’t have to recover from.

Thanks for reading!