A reader says, “I’ve been raising my son as a Pagan, and he is now seven years old and has some very unusual and occasionally disruptive behavioral traits that his teachers have commented on. I’ve thought about taking him for a behavioral evaluation to see what’s going on. Someone who is well-respected in the Pagan community told me that my son is an Indigo Child and that I should celebrate and encourage his unique personality, and that it was wrong to consider medicating him when it’s just his magical spirit and creativity shining through. I don’t know what an Indigo Child is. Should I just let him be himself? Is it un-Pagan to take him for intervention?”
This is a tricky question, and I’m reasonably certain that no matter how I answer, I’m going to upset at least a few of my other readers and get some hate mail, but I’ll give it a shot anyway. First, let’s talk about the definition of Indigo Children.
The phrase “Indigo Child” is one that became popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the metaphysical community, and was a term used to describe children who are believed to possess special traits that made them “magical.” Often these traits were along a supernatural vein, such as psychic and paranormal abilities – telepathy, clairvoyance, astral projection, etc. The theory was that these children were magically gifted in a way that made them far more creative and empathetic than other, “regular” kids. There is even, in some circles, a school of thought that says these children are not even of this earth, and carry different DNA strands than the rest of us. Feel free to take that with a grain of salt.
There’s no scientific basis for the concept of the Indigo child, and later, the concept got stretched a bit, so that some parents who had children with unusual behavioral traits defined their kids as being Indigo children. This became a popular trend, particularly in the New Age community, and there were a few cases of children with learning disabilities whose parents refused intervention on the basis that their child was an Indigo child, and to try to change them would stifle their creativity.
Pediatric behavioral specialists have theorized that the entire social construct of the Indigo child stems from parents who refuse to admit that their child has a behavioral problem – often ADD or ADHD, or autistic spectrum disorders – and that labeling the child as being not only special, but superior to other kids, is a parental coping mechanism. There’s a ton of information out there about the subject, so I won’t bog things down with any more detail. For more information, check out our About Healing page, where Phyl Desy has compiled a list of links to information about the concept of Indigo children.
Okay, so now, let’s get to the meat of the question. You want to know if you should take your child in for a behavioral evaluation. If your child’s behavior is so out of the norm – and you yourself used the word “disruptive” - that teachers have brought it to your attention, you’re doing your kiddo a disservice if you don’t get him evaluated. Remember, an evaluation is just that – an evaluation. It’s a way to find out, on a scientific level, what makes his little brain tick.
You didn’t specify what sort of behaviors we’re talking about, but there are a number of reasons why a child’s behavior might be out of the ordinary. He might have ADD or ADHD, sure. He also might have a nutritional deficiency or some other chemical imbalance that makes him act the way he does. He might not be getting enough sleep at night. He might be anxious about something that you’re unaware of. The possibilities are practically endless with a seven year old.
So on to the next question. Medication or not?
Well, first of all, that’s going to hinge upon whether or not a behavioral evaluation reveals something that can or should be medicated. Lots of kids with ADD and ADHD are medicated. Plenty are not. Some are functional without medication, some are not. There are some things that can’t be medicated, but can be kept in check by learning new coping mechanisms.
Whether you should medicate your child – for whatever reason – is not a question anyone can answer but you, because parenting choices are very personal decisions. That said, it wouldn’t hurt to keep a couple of things in mind.
First, if your child’s behavioral issues are such that they prevent him from learning effectively, or if they disrupt the classroom so much that he prevents other kids from learning, then they are definitely issues that must be addressed. Second, you need to focus on what is best for your family – don’t worry about the opinion of someone you just met who believes your child’s “magical spirit and creativity” are more important than his (and your) mental well being. This isn’t about being a “Pagan enough” parent vs. being “unPagan,” but simply about being a parent, and about raising your child to someday be a functional and self-sufficient adult.
No matter what your son’s diagnosis is, don’t get hung up on labels. If you want to call him an Indigo child, feel free. If you think that’s a silly term to use, then skip it. It’s entirely up to you. Bottom line is that it’s up to you to be an advocate for your child, and do what is best for his growth and development, without worrying about the approval of others.
Be sure to read more about Pagan parenting here:
- Pagan Rituals for Families with Children: Looking for rituals and ceremonies that work well for your young Pagans in training? Here's a collection of some of our most popular kid- and family-themed rituals and celebrations.
- Pagan Kids Activities: Got a favorite activity that helps share your Pagan beliefs and values with your children? Here's where you can share your ideas with other readers!
- How to Keep Your Kids Included in Pagan Practice: As the modern Pagan movement progresses and evolves, the Pagan community has grown to encompass people of all age levels. Those who discovered Paganism as teens or college students two or three decades ago are now raising their own children, and so the demographic within the Pagan community is constantly changing.
- Pagans and Homeschooling: As federal and state funding for public schools declines, more and more people are turning to homeschooling as an option. Once strictly the domain of fundamentalist Christians, homeschooling has seen an increase in popularity in many areas of the country. Pagan families have begun to join the movement as well, for a variety of reasons.
- Why Are Kids Sometimes Not Welcome at Pagan Events?: Ever wonder why kids might not be welcome at a Pagan or Wiccan event? Well, no matter how well-behaved your little darlings are, chances are there's a really good reason they weren't invited to join the adults.