If you're a Pagan parent, there's a good chance you're raising your kids as Pagan as well. And if that's the case, you can be assured that at some point, one of your children is going to start wondering about Jesus. It may be something perfectly innocuous, like "Why is that naked baby in the manger at Christmastime?" or it may be something with a bit more depth, like, "My friend Sam told me Jesus loves me, and I don't even know who that is." Either way, at some point, you're going to have to sit down with your little ones and discuss Jesus, Christianity, and the fact that your family is not part of the mainstream. But how can you do this, without making your kids feel weird -- or worse yet, bad -- about your family's belief system? Here are some ideas on how to address the subject. Bear in mind that the specifics of the conversation will vary a bit based upon the ages of your kids.
Why Can't We Go To Church?
Here's the first one you usually hear. Junior spends the night at a friend's house on Saturday, and has to get picked up before 9 am the next morning because his buddy's family is off to church. Naturally, he's going to want to know why you don't take him to church too -- after all, there's lots of singing, and a bunch of kids from school will be there, so it sounds like fun, right? This is a good time to explain to your child that your beliefs are different from most of his or her friends' beliefs. You can try several different approaches.
For example, you might say "Well, we don't go to church because we're not Christians, we're Pagans, and our church is in our home/out under a tree/over at Aunt Bev's house." Perhaps you can tell your child, "We don’t go to church because church is for people who worship a different god than the ones we worship." However you choose to answer, be honest. Don't just say "I don't know" because that doesn’t answer the question.
If your child is mature enough to attend the worship services of another religion without you present, you may want to let him or her give it a shot, and then talk about what he saw and heard when he gets home. It's a good opportunity to discuss the differences and similarities between your family's faith, and the faiths of other families.
How Come We're Not Christian?
This question comes up a lot. After all, once you've had the "why don’t we go to church" conversation, this one is sure to follow. Why, indeed, isn't your family Christian? If your child hasn’t asked yet, he or she will do so soon, because they are surrounded by Christians and images of Christianity fairly regularly. At school, they'll hear other kids talking about the fun stuff they did at Vacation Bible School or how much they love Friday Night Youth Group. Eventually, your kid is going to realize she's the odd girl out, and you'll need to be ready to have an answer for her.
Tell your child the truth. You can say, "Mommy used to be Christian, but discovered she was happier as something else." If you wish to use the god/goddess aspect of your spirituality, tell your kid, "We're not Christian because the gods we believe in are Pagan gods, not Christian ones."
A word of caution here -- no matter how negative your experiences with Christians, Christianity, or churches may have been, be cautious not to bash them in front of your child. Little kids have big mouths, and your off-hand comment meant to be kept private may get repeated in front of friends, teachers, or other parents. The last thing you want is to be known as the mom who tells her children that Christians are dumb or bad.