Who Was Jesus, and Why Does He Love Me?
Kids will naturally be inquisitive about Jesus. He's all over the place, especially during the winter holidays, and the image of the Baby Jesus in particular is one that you can't avoid. There are songs about how much he loves us, and on some churches, his picture is visible on the sign when you drive past. At some point, no matter how Pagan you try to keep your household, your child is going to wonder about Jesus. So what do you tell him? Here's an idea of how the conversation might go:Kid: Mom, my friend Sam says that Jesus loves me.
Parent: That's nice. Eat your broccoli.
Kid: So who was Jesus? Is he a god?
Parent: Well, some people believe that he was the son of the Christian god. No one knows for sure. A lot of people believe that he was a great teacher, and he tried to show everyone how important it was to love each other and be good to other people.
Kid: How come Sam says Jesus loves me?
Parent: Some people who are Christians believe that Jesus is still around, because he's the son of their god. They believe that he loves everyone, even people who don't believe in him.
… and so on. You can see, clearly, how this conversation can spiral from simple dinner time chat into a theological discussion with a six-year-old. Your child will have questions about "is Jesus real" and "if he died how come he still loves people" and "is our cat Lucy in heaven with Jesus?" Be sure that you phrase your answers in a way that will allow your child to form his own opinions, while still sharing with him what you believe. If Junior really wants to believe that his dead pet is in heaven with Jesus, and it makes him feel better, then don't tell him how ridiculous you think the idea is.
A smart idea here would be to draw parallels between Christian beliefs and your family's Pagan spirituality. You could tell your child, "Well, in our family, we believe that Lucy is in the Summerland with all the other cats and dogs that have crossed over, but some families think maybe Jesus and the pets are together in heaven." This gives your child some room to ponder things, and will be comforting no matter which way he decides to believe.
Our Family is Different, This I Know
It's not going to take long for your child to figure out that what your family believes is very different than what most of his or her friends believe. In fact, it may be a good idea to be pro-active -- talk to your child about Christianity before other people do. Let him or her know that most of his friends and their families are in fact Christian, and that there's nothing wrong with being different. If you live in the United States or other country with religious freedom, be sure to stress that one of your civil rights is that of worshipping who and what you choose.
Because most Pagan families celebrate and worship at home, if your child is old enough to start asking questions about religion, he or she is probably old enough to include in family rituals and celebrations. You may also wish to take some time each week to work on some basic religious education. Use one of the books on the list of Books for Pagan Kids as a foundation, and build from there. For some great tips on Pagan parenting, read one of these:
- Raine Hill's Growing Up Pagan: A Workbook for Wiccan Families
- Kristin Madden's Pagan Parenting
- Family Wicca by Ashleen O'Gaea
- Circle Round by Starhawk, Diane Baker and Anne Hill
- Raising Witches: Teaching the Wiccan Faith to Children by Ashleen O'Gaea