August 20, 2011

Godlessness is NOT the Source of Delinquency in Children

When I was growing up, children were given boundaries and rules. They were expected to show respect. Family structures were not "democratic societies" - when the adults said "no" that was the end of the conversation - no debating, compromise, or bribing attempts followed. If Mother or Dad didn't punish for misdeeds then there were neighbors, school officials equipped with paddles, and other relatives waiting in line to set things straight.

My own curfew was whenever the street lights came on. I wasn't to interrupt in adult conversations, touch anything that didn't belong to me, question authority, or leave the premises without permission. Saying "please" and "thank you", or calling adults by proper names, like "Mr. Smith" or "Miss Jones", came naturally. I knew I was part of a family unit and that contributing to housework, gardening or yard work was a way to help out, or as they used to say, "earn my keep". No one entertained me, yet I was never at a loss for something to do. No one fixed me a special meal if I didn't like the tomatoey-ghoulash being served for supper. I would either eat it, thankfully, or go hungry.

My older siblings worked and either shared their income with my struggling, divorced Mother of seven, or they bought their own clothing, etc. No one sat idly in front of the television or video games (we didn't have video games back then anyway) for hours and days on end, never lifting a finger to pick up or take responsibility for a single thing. Even though, like many others, my family had its' own share of difficulties and what they now call "dysfunction", we usually did our best to be responsible, respectful, pleasant and grateful.

No matter the "rules" presented me, my childhood was filled with magic and wonder, imagination and fantasy! These things were encouraged and accepted. It was a pleasant and rewarding experience, despite the difficulties we faced or the shortcomings of my parents.

Today, things are so much different. Way too many kids are unruly, demanding and disrespectful. It seems, though, that the same people who whine and complain about your child's misbehavior (at school, or within the community) are those who also have one hand on the phone ready to call Protective Services if you even MENTION punishment.

Many attribute this loss of control to "God being stripped from society in general", but not me. My folks didn't discipline me because they were "religious". They definitely were not religious! I asked my Mother once, "what is our religion?", after being prompted by classmates in middle school to explain my "position". Her response was, "just tell them you're Protestant" (meaning...give them this standard answer to keep them off your back). I had no clue what being "Protestant" was, so it's a good thing nobody ever asked me!

My folks disciplined us because it was morally right to teach boundaries and instill attributes that would carry us through our lives. It had nothing to do with God or the Bible. The world "going to hell" (for lack of a better description) has everything to do with poverty, struggling single-parent families, government interference and insane restrictions placed upon us as parents, and absolutely nothing to do with the Christian God - or the lack thereof.

As Pagans, though, how do we establish and maintain "control"? Our society is based on a "gimme instant gratification right NOW attitude", and "anything goes". As a child in the seventies, I would have been appalled to see a TV commercial showing a woman modeling a bra or a man talking about his erectile dysfunction. I would not have had a clue what "erectile" even was, but it sure would have sounded like something naughty that I had no business knowing about at the age of ten! I'm pretty sure my Mother didn't know what "erectile" meant either! Well, she did have seven children, so maybe she did have an idea. Or maybe not knowing the term is WHY she had seven. (chuckling here). Hmm? At any rate, I'm sure I've never heard her say that word.

Even without Christianity, Pagan children are still taught to be respectful, responsible for their actions, mindful of the needs of others, patient, aware of the effects their deeds have upon the earth, themselves and others, polite and grateful...not because they may be "struck down" by some unseen "God", but because it is instilled upon them that every action causes a reaction and that their personal growth and wisdom will not be "handed to them" - it is a process of experiences and mistakes - learning and achieving from within.

I think that Pagan parents typically have a solid idea of boundaries for their children, a firm grasp on what is unacceptable behavior, and will not bend during conflict since their "faith", and belief in unity among All, is strong and unwavering. They tend to encourage free thought and imagination with their offspring, within unwritten parameters of morality, leading the child to become a complete, stable, responsible and moral individual from within, rather than asking "forgiveness" of misdeeds from some unknown outside force.

How do you, as a Pagan parent, instill the positive values in your children when the world has become so "warped"? What are your greatest concerns? Have you found ways to circumvent the chaos presented within our society? 
Inspired by her Native American roots and Bradbury lineage, Polly Taskey is a writer and grandmother in the northern USA.  She shares her wisdom and pagan interests through Pagan by Design and The Moonlit Grove.


Salem Witch Child said...

In my house, Momma is boss. There are no ifs and or but. If I say you do or not do something that is LAW. Breaking that law means you will either loose a privilege, personal item, or result in being spanked. My DD is required to do chores and has been that way since she was 2 yrs old. (Age appropriate of course). If she doesn't like what I fix for dinner she can fix something herself. (again age appropriate for working in the kitchen).

I certainly do not teach that the world is a "fair" society. If she dares tell me she's bored I ask her if she wants me to find something to do for her. That quickly solves that problem! She knows if I have to find something for her to do its either going to be educational or helpful things around the house.

We try to teach good work ethic. Something we've had problems with DD recently. (She likes to spend way too much time on dishes) DH is more patient so he works with her more on this than I do. Personally, I wouldn't be so lenient.

That said, there are also rewards for good behavior and good jobs too. She's rarely in trouble and I can't remember the last time I had to spank. (I only spank for major offenses or last resort).
She does get a small allowance, generally can go play everyday with her friends, and is given treats (with some restrictions).

Sisterlisa said...

I know I'm not fully pagan, yet I'm not in the Christian religion either.. I'm an organic faith kind of person but I totally feel what you're saying. For our family it's been about maintaining a balance and emphasizing the family unit as sacred. I'll share more when time allows.. I'm off to a family trip .. and you've been featured today..

Kallan said...

I grew up in a secular household as well. We were free to choose our own beliefs. I had the same type of upbringing- we didn't dare mess up in the neighborhood- someone's parents were sure to tell ours, and not only would those parents yell, but mine would have been livid. Shame the family name with your bad behavior? Inconceivable! Great post!

Delphi said...

How do you, as a Pagan parent, instill the positive values in your children when the world has become so "warped"?

I had to pause a moment and really think about this...I was raised Catholic and in a household of children are seen and not heard kind of attitude. Guilt rang supreme.
When I had my children I felt the best policy was teach them honesty, respect and manners ( I greatly dislike rude people)Respect of themselves and the Earth and for others since we are all connected. I answer questions honestly but not crudely and I try my best to explain the world to them,I tell them (bluntly) "There are enough assholes in the world we do not need to add to the population" They are allowed to dream and hope, but they are learning the value of hard-work. I teach by example, I give to charity, I save animals off the street ( I get laughed at for that one) I ALWAYS speak to people with respect and honesty. Magick, joy, honesty,respect and hardwork...its is the best I can do.
Sorry for a long comment.
Blessed Be*

Polly said...

Salem Witch Child, it seems "Mom" (me) has been the main disciplinarian in my household as well. Great comments!

Sister Lisa, What an honor! Thank you so very much ~ I am blushing here. :)

Kallan, thank you and I agree ~ disgracing the family had the potential of easily leaving unseen scars that lasted years.

Delphi, I agree! Respect is a number one priority! No need to apologize for commenting - I love comments!

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