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Thought of the day

You know what I've noticed in a lot of pagan event announcements? Explicit references to kids being welcome (or "welcome with parents" or "welcome if supervised," etc.). It's good to know, I'm sure, but it also seems to establish a norm of kids not being welcome at religious services, or at least the idea that you shouldn't assume that it's all right to bring the kids.

And I'm not saying that kids should be welcome at every pagan ritual, I know that there are many that are not child-appropriate. But I'm talking about public rituals, not intimate circles, not intense magical work, but devotional rituals.

(Granted that I'm heathen, and heathen groups tend to be more child-friendly than neopagan groups overall, but years ago I used to be generically neopagan and our group always made a point of being child-friendly. The non-child-friendly event was the exception, the rarity.)

Although it may be that the point of these announcements has to do with the "if supervised" part--so that parents know that they have to watch their own kids (what a shocker!)--which is a bit different.

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( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
bernmarx
Sep. 19th, 2006 04:18 pm (UTC)
I've organized pagan events, and that's probably the #1 question when it's not explicitly mentioned: Can I bring my kids?

Plus, I think a lot of liberal-minded (high overlap with pagan) folks think that kids are either a community responsibility or should run free and unoppressed, leading to emnity especially among the wilfully child-free. Hence "with supervision" and variants. I love kids, myself, but I can see how other people can get impatient with them. (This was a discussion we had multiple times when I was involved with ADF, and my attitude was, "Why limit 'disruption' to children? If someone is disruptive, ask them to leave. That simple, no reason to be agist except to the degree that parents have to leave if their children do, but that's a legal restriction, not ours.")
hearthstone
Sep. 19th, 2006 10:37 pm (UTC)
I'd think that "with supervision" should go without saying (although I know better :)), particularly in a public ritual. But you have a good point--although we have honestly had minimal disruptions at our gatherings, the worst was an adult.
rowanf
Sep. 19th, 2006 05:00 pm (UTC)
Hmm. I don't know that I've seen that around here. But "welcome if supervised" sounds like a great variant. Too many people in our community can't bring themselves to set limits for their children. *growl*
ravan
Sep. 19th, 2006 07:28 pm (UTC)
Too many people in our community can't bring themselves to set limits for their children. *growl*

Aint that the truth! That's part of why I don't bother with South Bay events any more. Too many permissive parents or parents hust looking for reproductive ego-boo.
zoe_me
Sep. 19th, 2006 09:02 pm (UTC)
How bizzare. All the pagan parents we know won't go near the public events.
hearthstone
Sep. 19th, 2006 10:43 pm (UTC)
I wonder if it may be the difference between what's expected at small group (kindred, etc.) events and what's expected at larger, mixed or public events.

At our kindred gatherings, the kids can participate or not as they prefer, and if they don't care to they can play elsewhere; when they were younger the non-heathen spouse of a kindred member kept them with him, but they're pretty self-entertaining at this point, they know where they may and may not go and what they may and may not do.

If I were to take them to a larger gathering, I think I'd pay attention to the norms of that group (some having greater tolerance for kids than others), which vary a lot. Certainly they wouldn't have the freedom they have here. It does, however, annoy me when kids only because of their age are held to a stricter standard of behavior than adults are (see comment above by bernmarx
smithing_chick
Sep. 19th, 2006 06:34 pm (UTC)
If you don't say they can come, people will often assume that kids aren't welcome. Don't know why, that's just an assumption they make.

Second, the "with supervision" is usually key. There's an amazing number of parents that expect there to be some sort of kid-drop-off point or will just let their kids run amok.
hearthstone
Sep. 19th, 2006 10:48 pm (UTC)
If you don't say they can come, people will often assume that kids aren't welcome. Don't know why, that's just an assumption they make.

I've noticed that as well, and I still find it surprising--I'd think that the standard would be family-friendly, and the exception would be child-free. Not that there's anything wrong with child-free rituals, I can think of plenty of cases where that would be best, just that when there's any other exclusion made (women-only, men-only, over-50-only) the exclusion is stated. The norm should be inclusive.

Second, the "with supervision" is usually key. There's an amazing number of parents that expect there to be some sort of kid-drop-off point or will just let their kids run amok.

See, that I don't understand--apart from the issue of inconveniencing others, there's a safety issue here! When my kids are at a mixed gathering of any sort with people they and I don't know, I don't want them where I can't see them.
gothicdruid
Sep. 19th, 2006 08:09 pm (UTC)
^^^ What they said...

We have a couple small children in attendance at FoDLA/Druid Academy rituals in LA periodically and they are well-behaved...mostly because their parents (whom I know well) are bringing them up to respect ritual (and ritual space).

In general, as a ritual facilitator over nearly ten years now, I'm fine with kids in attendance...with the supervision caveat. I don't include any verbiage fur-or-agin in ritual announcements, but when asked by a parent, I typically put the onus on them to honestly describe the child's attention span, exposure to ritual, etc. I have absolutely been in rituals that were destroyed by crying infants or older kids running around the sacred space. I definitely have a suspicion that some kids I've seen in various circles are only getting ritual exposure in public ritual and believe that no kid should attend public ritual who is not participating in family rituals first to build a foundation of respect for occasion. (I'm also not 100% convinced that the ancients or various tribal societies willy-nilly have included children in various temple observances...some cultures' rites and some cultic activities are for initiates who've generally passed puberty and/or a rite of passage and it may be that some of those boundaries are still worth considering in certain traditions, even in "public" rituals...which I say even though I'm perfectly fine with kids of all ages in the rites I lead.) Just my .02, of course.
hearthstone
Sep. 19th, 2006 10:50 pm (UTC)
I definitely have a suspicion that some kids I've seen in various circles are only getting ritual exposure in public ritual and believe that no kid should attend public ritual who is not participating in family rituals first to build a foundation of respect for occasion.

That's a very good point. Then again, there are plenty of adult pagans who don't participate in rituals unless someone else is putting them on, so I guess it's not surprising. :)
weofodthignen
Sep. 20th, 2006 01:57 am (UTC)
I think you've put your finger on something important. There are those who are raising their kids in "comparative religion" rather than paganism, and there are those who grew up going to church on Sunday--or occasional Sundays--and just haven't even thought about home rituals.

But candidly, to me it's really simple. Children can be really disruptive--I've heard some awful stories--and "public" ritual means different things in different contexts. I would actually assume no children was the default, and if I were a parent, I would ask. And ask further whether they would be able to participate or just be minded. I'm still a little surprised when parents assume their kids are welcome at any event without asking, and I have seen heathen parents on e-lists complaining about their kids seeing nudity at pagan gatherings--where I would rather expect nudity to sometimes occur. Not every rite, or gathering, is for children, or seekers, as well as the committed.

But then I don't have kids; those who do tend to have a different perspective on many things.

M
zoe_me
Sep. 19th, 2006 09:13 pm (UTC)
We belong to a neopagan playgroup (as a recon it's exasperating, but it's my own issues). None of them go to public ritual.... but in the SF bay area a lot of time the times are too late, or don't seem kid friendly. (from the comments above I am seeing why).

But we have guidelines for the group rituals..... no long invokations... anything on the altar is fair game for the kids to see it with their hands... When you have a toddler who gets to explore at the family altar, it's setting the parent up for a lot of policing stress if the altar is "their private space".

The Hellenic Recons that meet a couple times a year in Berkley are HELLA kidlet friendly, and thus our experience is that Hellenic ritual is perfect for kids. Okay, Katie loves her offerings, and will just keep going with the barley as long as she can think of gods and more things to be greatful for until the barley is gone. The LA folks have tons of kids, but somehow we only hear about their non-kid rituals.

~ le sigh ~

-Zoe, who needs to find a park ritual space she feels okay about
hearthstone
Sep. 19th, 2006 10:54 pm (UTC)
I live in a rural area, so I've always been involved in creating ritual (or else I wouldn't get to go to any!); it must be different in an urban setting where there's more than just one game in town.

On the whole I've noticed heathens and other reconstructionist pagans putting a greater importance on including kids, but I think on the whole they're also more concerned with passing the faith on to the next generation, which may also be a factor here.
psyilax
Sep. 19th, 2006 10:24 pm (UTC)
I think it may have something do to with teenagers coming alone to rituals, or with a group of friends, without of their parents knowing. It does bring a certain burden…
hearthstone
Sep. 19th, 2006 10:56 pm (UTC)
You know, that hadn't even occurred to me--it would definitely be a consideration in some areas. Excellent point!
psyilax
Sep. 19th, 2006 11:01 pm (UTC)
It came to me a few minutes after reading your post.
brujaoscura
Sep. 20th, 2006 02:12 am (UTC)
Well- being a RESPONSIBLE parent myself I ask(unless of course I am HOSTING the gathering) if kids are welcome- then I supervise them at all times AT the gathering.
I have had people who complained about children running amok at gatherings come to me and complain whether it was my children or not. I simply shrug and say that if kids are a problem- I'll stay home
But then- I go to very few public gatherings
dinpik
Sep. 22nd, 2006 06:54 pm (UTC)
From past experience, I'd guess the "if supervised" comes from having to deal with parents expecting other people to watch their offspring -- and getting bent out of shape when told it's their job to do so.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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