Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Help! My Parents Will Not Let Me Be Wiccan!

As Wicca continues to grow in popularity it is understandable that young people searching for ways to make sense of the world and attain spiritual peace will continue to want to explore this path as well. Problems may arise when a teen’s parents or guardians do not understand the Wiccan faith, or, worse, are not open to understanding and exploring it for themselves prior to judging Wicca as evil. What should a young person do if confronted with this dilemma? Is what mom or dad doesn’t know still going to hurt them? Is it better to abandon all hope of studying Wicca to appease the family? 

No matter what lifestyle a teen is exploring within their own natural or constitutional rights, when in mom or dad’s home, one must do or not do as mom and dad say. If a teen has a true interest in Wicca that is more than a passing impulse, the opportunity to worship the God and Goddess and practice this faith will await them when they are independent and able to establish their own lifestyle outside of the confines of the family home. 

In the meantime, some potential for education or compromise may exist depending on the openness of the family as well as the diplomacy and behavior of the teen.  For instance, if Betsy, a 16 year old, introduces her interest in Wicca to her parents openly and shows her parents some positive books from the local library to help answer any questions they  have, or brings her parents to a positive practitioner of Wicca in the community to address concerns or questions, a discussion can ensue in which her parents can express their concerns or misunderstandings. They may still have concerns about Betsy being harassed or bullied at school or still have rules they wish her to follow such as not practicing with a group without their permission or without introducing them to the group leaders etc. but these matters are more likely to be discussed openly now. 

Say in contrast that Carrie, another 16 year old, becomes more and more withdrawn and secretive with her family. One day her mother is doing her laundry and finds Wiccan literature in a pocket of her jeans. Confused and concerned, Carrie’s mother confronts her daughter with her interest in Wicca. An argument ensues and her mother forbids her from practicing Wicca.  Her mom has come to associate secrecy and deception with her religious interests, and the opportunity to promote understanding and gain mom’s trust lost. 

The process of discussing interest in Wicca with a parent can vary but these examples illustrate the need to be open, respectful, and to go the extra mile to educate others. How a teen acts toward their religion and the process of sharing information they have learned with others will go a long way in building bridges vs. burning them. It remains the parents’ right to establish limits and rules in their house. A teen who is committed to exploring Wicca will have ample opportunity to pursue the faith in their own independent lifestyle when this milestone occurs. In the meantime, respecting nature, respecting parents as embodiments of the God and Goddess, and respecting Mother Earth are practices that can continue regardless of the title one wears or identifies with and will prepare the teen for a Wiccan lifestyle later on in the future.

Angela Kaufman is the coauthor of Wicca: What's the Real Deal? Breaking Through the Misconceptions, along with Dayna Winters, and Patricia Gardner.

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