Fostering Children's Spirituality

Discussion of raising your family in the pagan tradition.
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Yex
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Fostering Children's Spirituality

Post by Yex »

This is a pretty open-ended question about fostering a child's innate spirituality. I have a three-year-old daughter, and she often talks about spiritual topics and/or supernatural contact - completely nonchalantly, as if it were completely "normal"... as small children are prone to do.

An example: she often talks about "when I was a little baby", and tells these stories of things that never happened to her as a baby/child, that range from mundane anecdotes to fanciful stories... nothing out of the ordinary here, but I suspect that some of these stories touch on things that may have happened before she was incarnated in this form, because she's told stories about her grandson before.

Another example: She's really into dragons, and to-day told me that she knew a dragon "before I was a [her name]".

So here's my question:

If these were my own experiences, I'd delve into some past life work, or start studying draconic magic (which, incidentally, I know nothing about). But they're not my experiences. Other than the obvious of just being supportive and validating her when she tells me these things, how do I help to encourage her to cultivate these spiritual insights? Plenty of kids have these experiences and then grow out of them as the rational material reductionist world squeezes it out of them... but on the other hand, as I think has been discussed on this forum before, one doesn't really want to shove their own beliefs, however nuanced, down their child's throat. So what does one do? I don't even feel comfortable doing a shamanic journey to meet her guides, because I've always been taught that it's unethical to journey for someone without their expressed consent, and she's quite frankly unable to consent to such a thing at this age.

Hopefully this will spark a conversation about this delicate topic; and of course, any advice is welcome, and will be gladly considered with a grain of salt. :flyingwitch:
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SnowCat
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Re: Fostering Children's Spirituality

Post by SnowCat »

My daughter and two of my granddaughters talked about things in a similar vein. I just always listened, and asked open ended questions. I tried to avoid asking leading questions, because those tend to provoke the answer that someone thinks you want to hear. I would just follow her lead in things. She knows what she's experienced and experiencing, and she can let you know how involved she wants you to be.

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corvidus
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Re: Fostering Children's Spirituality

Post by corvidus »

I always heard that for children, the best thing you can do is to introduce them to the occult through the stories and lore. So maybe a good way to develop her 'innate spirituality' is by taking her to a bookstore with a healthy variety of occult fantasy literature, and letting her pick which ones she likes best?

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Re: Fostering Children's Spirituality

Post by Xiao Rong »

Haven't decided if I want kids yet, but this is something I've given a lot of thought about. While I think none of us want to force religion down our children's throats, but there is also a case to be made that kids need some kind of spiritual grounding. They're already being bombarded with external advice, and parents keeping totally silent isn't doing them any favors either. I think there should be a way to do it such that it's clear to the kids that this is what their parents believe and why, but they also have freedom to explore and question spiritually as well. (but again, all this is conjecture from someone who doesn't have kids yet!).
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Yex
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Re: Fostering Children's Spirituality

Post by Yex »

corvidus wrote:I always heard that for children, the best thing you can do is to introduce them to the occult through the stories and lore. So maybe a good way to develop her 'innate spirituality' is by taking her to a bookstore with a healthy variety of occult fantasy literature, and letting her pick which ones she likes best?
It's timely that you bring this up, as, aside from it being solid advice, I happen to have just purchased my daughter a book called My Name is Cernunnos. It's a children's book in which the Cernunnos, the Celtic Horned God, introduces the reader to animal medicine, covering a variety of animals, and explaining the message that each animal brings. I think it aligns well with my own animist theological framework, and she seems to like it.

I know that as a child, I was exposed quite a bit to Greco-Roman mythology, and that the effects of this exposure persist to to-day.
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Re: Fostering Children's Spirituality

Post by Kassandra »

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Refrain from Crutches

Hey Yex. I know my advice is going to be different than everyone else's, as always seems to be the case, but I don't think you need to "do" anything about it. In fact, I think doing nothing may be the best thing you could do.

Personally, I wouldn't cloud her 3-year-old mind with these pieces of literature, with draconic magic, and any such stuff just yet. The reason is, she's already "there," so to speak. No one has to make her be there. At her age her mind is already occupying a magical place. It doesn't need assistive crutches (occult literature, magical paths, altars, rituals, etc.), like adult minds seem to need because we have lost our magical consciousness and have to frequently revive our connection to it via these many paraphernalia. Let her natural thoughts have court. Let them air out, be expressed untainted. If you proselytize/evangelize "magic" and "paganism" to her, she will naturally graft those ideas onto her pristine, soul-expression energy, if for no other reason than she thinks that's what you want to hear her say.

In my opinion you should help her keep her thoughts as clear as possible, and in fact, preserve them for her. I say preserve because When she hits her teen years, some or all the doorways to these memories and magical thinking will have closed (perhaps, to be re-opened in adulthood sometime, perhaps not). It's just the way it works for most of us. We have to go through the Dark Night of the Soul of our teenage years, "individuation" some call it. The energetic break from the parental umbilical cord can be kind of traumatic, as most of us must rebel to make the cut happen. Sometimes this means cutting off parts of ourselves, only to find them again years later. This process is more or less severe, depending on the individual.

To help her reconnect with that part of herself when the time comes, have solid documentation preserved. It's like trying to remember a dream. Dreams start to disappear with time. They have a shelf life. Past life memories are the same way. By the time she's six she might remember some of what she's said to you at three, but not all. By the time she's nine she might not remember the content, but she might remember the feeling of telling you these things. And by the time she's twelve, well, for one, she's going to think you are weird just bringing these things up, two, she is going to be more interested in giggling with her girlfriends about cute singers and actors than she will be in talking to you, and three, getting used to menstruation can be quite...challenging...for everyone involved, to say the least. Past life, what past life? For many reasons, she might be very disconnected to what she's connected to right now. Help her return to herself when she's older by documenting everything now.



Preserve the Memories

So, preserve the memories now while you can. Just focus on that. Every instance you chat with her about these things WILL be an actual past life regression session. As I said, remember, it's adults that need assistive spiritual crutches/technologies like "hypnosis" in order to disconnect from the superficial thoughts of our mundane minds, and re-connect to our alternate selves. Kids, on the other hand, especially toddlers like your daughter, literally stay in a perpetual light trance state (seriously, this was actually taught in some child/human development courses I took in college; that's why I tend to believe kids when they say things like what your daughter says).

You could make preserving the memories really fun:

Artwork
Have her draw her memories. Have her sketch and paint the beings she talks about. Have her illustrate the dragon she knew, for instance, and talk about where he is today, what he's doing. Where does he live? Why are the two of them friends? Was she a dragon before? What was the nature of their relationship then, what is it now?

Have her paint pictures of her grandson, give him a name (which is probably really going to be the name of her actual grandson in the past life). Take her to the toy store and let her pick out a doll that resembles him. Let her narrate his story to you, as you video record it. How did her grandson die? What did she do with him as his grandma? What happened to his mother and father? Ask things like that.

"Storybook" Documentation/Photo Album
Take photos of all this, and don't leave them on discs, but print them out and put them in a photo album she could hold in her hands. This way, she could review them with you, keep the memories alive. The two of you could read the album like a story book. Let her narrate the story.

Videos/Interviews
Make video recordings as she's painting/drawing/talking. Ask her questions, like it is an interview that would be posted on YouTube, etc.

Role-play Costumes/Puppets
Do some role-playing. Make costumes or sock puppets. Pretend to be one of these characters, and have her tell you what to say, let her dictate the "script" (which might be actual recall of past life events).


You get my drift. Hope something of this you find helpful.


Thanks.





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Re: Fostering Children's Spirituality

Post by firebirdflys »

When you go for walks in the parks (you have some amazing forrests there ::coolglasses:: ) ask her what she feels when you examine the trees, plants and the bugs or locate a great stone. See if she can tap into their aliveness without necessarily prompting her she may come up with some great stories that you can form your own family mythos about the inherent life connection to all things.
My child was 12 before I began exposing her, and I wish I would have started sooner. I don't mean shoving it down their throats, but participation on a mild level could really enrich her life. Like celebrating the holidays, that would be gentle. Coloring eggs at Ostara, making May baskets, honoring the Sun at the solstices. If you have a garden ...a great example of the harvest celebrations when she helps bring in the food.
My daughter dabbled in a couple other religions as she was growing up, but even though she rarely joins me in circle these days, she considers herself a pagan woman, she's 33 now.
Best wishes Yex, it's awfully good that you are exploring options. You sound like a great dad.
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Re: Fostering Children's Spirituality

Post by Kassandra »

firebirdflys wrote: it's awfully good that you are exploring options. You sound like a great dad.
Here, here. What an incredibly in-tune, spiritual dad you are. How many dads --moms and dads for that matter-- would even notice these things, or just shrug them off as "imaginary friends" and whatnot, or otherwise not care? Very cool that you do. Thanks for bringing the question to us for discussion.




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Yex
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Re: Fostering Children's Spirituality

Post by Yex »

Thanks for the advice all. It's exactly what I was looking for, because, as I said, I really don't want to be too heavy handed, as that is clearly neither appropriate nor helpful. When she brings these things up, I strive to engage her, but not prompt her, if that makes sense. (Whether or not I succeed is an entirely different matter).
Kassandra wrote:
firebirdflys wrote: it's awfully good that you are exploring options. You sound like a great dad.
Here, here. What an incredibly in-tune, spiritual dad you are. How many dads --moms and dads for that matter-- would even notice these things, or just shrug them off as "imaginary friends" and whatnot, or otherwise not care? Very cool that you do. Thanks for bringing the question to us for discussion.
Thanks to both of you for these comments, too. As a stay-at-home parent, it's good to hear validation from time to time.
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