So what is the role of children within a pagan family? Are they obedient slaves? Are they “seen and not heard”? Do they keep their opinions to themselves? Do they respect authority without question? And as pagans if we “spare the rod do we spoil the child”?
One of my personal Wiccan beliefs is that God Herself is connected to and is part of all living things and because of this all life is sacred. This means that every living, breathing thing holds within it deity. Me. You. And our children. With this in mind, I realize that all living beings deserve the same respect that I would give directly to God Herself; the living Earth, pets, friends, co-workers, neighbors and all other humans including strangers and most certainly my children those of my own flesh and blood. It is because of this perception that I encourage my children to give input on where we should go for family vacation. I see nothing inherently wrong with asking if they are okay with Mom and Dad going out on a date without them. I think that it is very important for children to feel as if they have a respected opinion on the daily activities of the family that they are a valued part of. I don’t view this as asking permission instead I view it as open communication. If the child has a negative emotion in connection to what Mom and Dad have planned then this is the opportune time to uncover the reason behind the reaction. I believe that this view creates harmony and nurtures love.
I am by no means advocating that children need no guidance. I am a parent of two wonderful, intelligent and compassionate children and realize that children need boundaries and guidance in order to feel protected, valued and loved. What I am saying is that they flourish when shown attention and interest. They need to have authority over some aspects of their lives even if it is what color clothing they wear that day. Our children have so much to teach us, so much to share with us if we only allow them the freedom to do so. They keep us young and happy reminding us to live in today with no regrets.
Will the child who is given such freedom be the child that commits parental abuse when they’re older? I highly doubt it. The child who is shown attention and respect, the child who is valued and love, the child who is taught to respect herself and others because she knows that we are all connected and sacred beings will be the child to guide others to love without restriction. That child will be the counselor, the mid-wife, the doula, the spiritual leader – the avatar. The child who is pushing their Mother in front of an advancing city bus at eight years old is the one who was abused and/or neglected. He is the child who visits my home and smiles when I pay him a compliment or asks what his favorite subject is in school. He is the one craving a connection with another. Children are sacred beings that deserve our respect, attention and love. They chose to be born to us. We should ask them their opinions because they have opinions. We should teach them about value, love and respect by showing them. We should lead by example so they will too.