For Concerned Parents

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More and more young people are discovering Pagan beliefs. Image by Dan Porges/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Note: Please keep in mind that this article is primarily aimed at non-Pagan parents whose teen has expressed an interest in Pagan faiths, and who may be trying to educate themselves. If you are a Pagan parent raising kids in your family tradition, obviously many of the aspects of this article will not pertain to you.

What to Do When Your Teen Discovers Wicca or Paganism

So your child has started reading books on witchcraft, likes wearing lots of silver jewelry, and has changed her name to Moonfire.

Should you be worried?

Not yet.

For many parents of teens who have discovered Paganism and Wicca, there are a lot of questions and concerns. You may be worried that your son or daughter has gotten involved in something harmful or dangerous. Moreover, Wicca and other forms of Paganism may be in direct conflict with your own religious views.

Sincere Interest, or Just Teen Angst?

First, understand that some teens come to Paganism because it sounds like a really fun way to rebel against Mom and Dad. After all, what could possibly be more irritating to parents than to have little Susie show up at Grandma’s house wearing a giant pentacle and announcing, “I’m a witch, and I do spells, you know.” For the kids who make their way to Paganism as part of a rebellion, chances are good that they’ll grow out of it.

Pagan religions aren’t fashion statements, they’re spiritual paths. When someone comes to them looking for attention or a way to shock their parents, they’re usually a bit startled when they learn that some effort, work, and study is required.

That’s typically they point where they lose interest.

If your child is saying he or she is Wiccan or Pagan or whatever else, there's certainly a possibility that they may not really be -- they might just be testing the waters. With the portrayal of witchcraft in the movies and television, it’s not uncommon for a teen girl to suddenly decide she’s Wiccan and can change her own eye color with a Super Cool Spooky Spell.

This too shall pass.

Keep Yourself Informed

One of the best ways to understand what your child is interested in is to do a little research yourself. If you're not sure what Wicca is -- or even if you THINK you do -- you might want to read up on Wicca 101 and Ten Factoids About Wicca. You may be surprised at what you learn.

Adult Pagans Won't Try to Convert Your Child

No adult member of the Pagan community will encourage a child to lie to their parents -- and people who do encourage it may not be Pagans at all, but people with far more sinister motives. Bear in mind that no respectable Pagan group will allow membership by a minor unless they have express consent from the child’s parent or legal guardian -- and even then, it’s still iffy. For more information on this issue, read My Parents Don’t Want Me to be Wiccan, Can’t I Just Lie? in the FAQ section.

So Now What Do You Do?

If your child isn’t just going through an I-Hate-You-And-Want-To-Shock-You-With-My-Outrageous-Behavior phase, there’s the distinct possibility that he or she is sincere about learning about Pagan beliefs. If that’s the case, you’ve got two choices:

  • Allow your child to learn a bit, explore, and make an educated decision later on, or
  • Forbid him or her completely from having anything to do with Pagan religions.

If the first option is right up your alley, great! Let's talk some more.

If you think the second one is what’s right for your child, that’s certainly your prerogative, and it‘s unlikely that there‘s anything anyone can tell you on a website that might change your mind. Don't forget, though, that a determined teenager can find a way to read books no matter who tells them not to, but you can certainly prevent your child from practicing their new path under your roof. It’s your right as a parent, and if your own spiritual beliefs tell you that Paganism is bad or evil, then explain to your child that you are uncomfortable with the interest he or she is taking. Communication is the key -- you may find that your teen is simply seeking something she didn’t think she could find in your family’s religion.

Talk to Your Child

If you’re willing to allow your child the chance to choose his or her own spiritual path, then there are many excellent resources available to you and your teen. Ask your child what it is he or she is reading -- they may be excited to share their newfound knowledge with you. Encourage discussion -- find out not only what they believe, but WHY they believe it. Ask, “Okay, so you’re telling me Pagans do such-and-such, but why do you think that would work out for you personally?”

You may wish to lay some ground rules as well. For example, maybe reading books is acceptable to you, but you don’t want your son burning candles in his room (because he forgets to put them out and you don’t want your house to burn down) or lighting incense because his little brother has an allergy. That’s fair and reasonable, and if you talk to your child rationally and calmly, hopefully they’ll accept your decision.

There are many different Pagan and Wiccan traditions or belief systems. Most of them are rooted in earth- and nature-based spiritual ideals. Different groups honor and worship a variety of gods and goddesses. Paganism is not the same as devil worship or Satanism. For more answers to questions you have about the myths and misconceptions of Paganism, including but not limited to the different Wiccan traditions, I’d recommend reading the Frequently Asked Questions page.

There's also an excellent book designed for non-Pagans to understand Wicca and Paganism better, called When Someone You Love is Wiccan, which is an excellent resource for parents of teens.

Be the Parent

Ultimately, your children and their well-being -- physical, emotional and spiritual -- are your domain. You may choose to let them learn more, or decide that it’s not compatible with your family’s religious beliefs. Regardless of your choice, recognize that your teen needs to have effective communication with you during this time of their life. Be sure to pay attention when they speak to you, and hear what they say and what they don‘t say.

Likewise, don’t be afraid to talk to them and tell them how you feel -- you may not think they’re listening, but they are.