A reader asks, My parents don't think I should study Wicca because our family is Christian. I'm thinking about just telling them I'm not studying Wicca, but doing it anyway and just not telling them, or maybe telling them I'm still Christian. I have a place I can hide some books, and I can probably find someone to teach me in secret. This should be ok, right?
No, no, a thousand times NO.
If you’re underage, then whether you like it or not your parents are responsible for you, and ultimately get to make decisions for you. If you’ve decided to convert to Wicca or Paganism, you need to have a serious heart-to-heart conversation with your parents. They either (a) won’t know what you’re talking about (b) are going to be really opposed to it because of their own religious doctrine, or (c) are willing to let you explore your own paths as long as you do so in an informed and intelligent manner.
Educating the Parents
If mom and dad have no idea what Wicca or Paganism is, it might not be a bad idea to educate them. To do that, you’ll need to figure out first what it is you actually believe – because if you don’t know, how can you share it other people? Make a list of the things you believe in, so you can share it with them. This may include your thoughts on reincarnation, sin, your personal interpretation of the Harm None guideline or the Rule of Three, or ideas on how Wicca or Paganism can empower you and make you grow as a human being. If you can sit down and have a mature and rational discussion with them – and that means no throwing stuff and shouting “YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND!!” – then you may have a better chance of convincing them that it’s okay.
Remember, they are concerned for your safety, and so it’s important that you answer their questions truthfully. There’s a great book called "When Someone You Love Is Wiccan", which I would recommend sharing with your parents or other family members who might have questions.
What if They Say No?
In some cases, parents may strongly object to their child’s practicing Wicca or Paganism. This is usually because of the teachings of their religious beliefs – and as parents, that is their right. As unfair as it may be, they are entitled to tell their child that he or she is not allowed to practice Wicca, belong to a coven, or even own books about the subject. If this is the case in your family, there are a number of things you can do.
First of all, don’t lie. No spiritual path can get off to a good start if it begins with deception. Secondly, you can learn and study plenty of other things besides Wicca while you live in your parents’ home. Mythology, history, herb and plant lore, astronomy, even the religion your parents follow – all of these are things that will come in handy later on. Save your Pagan books for when you’re an adult and have moved into your own home. The Pagan community will still be there after you turn eighteen, so as long as you’re living under mom and dad’s roof, respect their wishes.
Does this mean you can't believe in things that are compatible with a Pagan or Wiccan belief system? Absolutely not - no one can stop you from believing in anything. More and more teens today are exploring the spiritual aspects of Pagan faiths, and if the gods are calling you, there's not much you can do to make them go away. Read this great article by David Salisbury for some perspective on what other teen Pagans are dealing with right now: What Young Pagans Like.
What if They Say Yes?
Finally, you might be fortunate enough to have parents who will allow you to practice Wicca or some other Pagan path with their blessing, as long you make an informed and educated decision. In these cases, you may have parents who are Pagan themselves, or they may understand that spirituality is a very personal choice. Whatever their reasons, be thankful that they care, and share information with them at every opportunity. They will want to know you are safe, so be honest and open with them.
Even if they allow you to practice openly, your parents may still have rules they expect you to follow, and that’s okay too. Perhaps they don’t mind you doing magic, but they don’t want you burning candles in your room. That’s fine – find an acceptable substitute for candles. Maybe they’re okay with you learning about Wicca, but they’re concerned about you joining a coven while you’re still underage. That’s a legitimate worry. No sneaking out to meet with the local coven! Find ways to study and learn on your own, and when you’re an adult you can find a group then. Another option might be to form a study group of some sort with other people your own age, if your parents don’t object.
Remember, the key here is honesty and integrity. Lying will get you nowhere, and will present Wicca and Paganism in a negative light. Remember it’s their job as parents to be worried about you. It’s your job as the child to be respectful and honest with them.