I do think it is a parent's responsibility to teach their child about their religion. I think the idea that a parent will not share their religion with their child and will instead “let them figure it out on their own” is somewhat harmful. Children need to be taught spiritual beliefs in the same way they are taught how to behave in public.
|Joshua (5) is a rough-and-tumble kid who brings up the Gods and Goddesses quite a bit.|
If you do not teach your children about spirituality, the Gods, their Ancestors, and the way to live their lives in relation to the divine – then someone else most certainly will. If you do not teach your children your belief system as the basis for which they live good and honorable lives – then someone else most certainly will.
It might be their classmate, their Uncle Bob, their first girlfriend or boyfriend, or even some television show. But, when we leave a spiritual hole or emptiness in our children, they will find someone willing to fill that hole. When that happens, you will have very little input or control regarding how they fill that emptiness.
|Nathan (10) has begun helping with tasks during our Fainings, and is beginning to show an interest in toasting during Symbel.|
Some will say that teaching your child about your spirituality or belief system, is somehow “forcing them into a religion.” I believe that much of this reaction is based on negative experiences with being forced to go to Christian church or being forced to pray as a child. It is not about “forcing” your children to do or believe anything. It is about communicating, sharing, explaining, and letting them know what you believe.
I know that if I do not teach my kids about heathenry, no one will. I reached the age of 37 or so, without even HEARING of heathenry. I had no idea heathenry even existed.
Heathens describe being drawn back to our Folksoul. Heathens talk about the Gods calling us back to our native Folkway. But, our ancestors taught their children our Folkway from the day they were born. They did not remain mute about their Gods and Ancestors, and just let the Gods call their children when it was time. Our ancestors shared their culture directly with their children all through their lives. It should be no different for us as modern heathen parents.
|Elizabeth (8) has a keen interest in her Ancestors and our house wight, and will also toast during Symbel.|
We live in a world and culture with an immense amount of Christian pressures and indoctrination. There is also all this pressure from Science, which in many ways encourages a strong agnostic or atheist point of view. If we do not teach and share heathenry with our children, there is an immensely high chance that they will end up Christian or Agnostic. Having been Agnostic for 25-plus years, I can attest that it gave me a very empty and cold feeling about the world. I do not want that for my children.
If you are a parent and you are new to heathenry, take your time. Work your comfort level up, while also improving your own understanding of our native Folkway. When the time is right, share with your children the wonders of the world that you now know. Our Gods are amazingly inspiring, and your chlidren deserve to have that inspiration in their lives. Our Ancestors are an amazing foundation, and your children deserve to have that foundation in their lives. The Vaettir are a wonder all about us, and your children deserve to have that wonder in their lives...
Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods