August 20, 2011
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.
Labels: Pagan Parenting