July 16, 2011

Thoughts on Faith

What is Faith?
The dictionary tells us Faith is
1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability.
2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
3. belief in god or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
5. a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.
6. the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.: Failure to appear would be breaking faith.
7. the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one's promise, oath, allegiance, etc.: He was the only one who proved his faith during our recent troubles.
8. Christian Theology . the trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which humans are justified or saved.
To me faith is pure and simple belief in something.  For children faith comes almost naturally; they just believe.  They can see the magic of things all around us.  They will ask questions about everything, and they have faith that what we say is truth.  They are like sponges soaking up knowledge with every experience, every conversation heard, and everywhere they go.  Knowing this makes teaching them your Faith almost simple.
Easy that is if you know how to teach them.
I was brought up a Catholic.  I went to church with my mom and grandma before I could even speak a word.  My mom taught me to say my prayers before meals and bed.  And I went to religious education classes once a week.  As a child I believed in the Catholic faith, it was all I knew.  As a teen I began to question those beliefs, and until I chose to go down a different path.  When my oldest was born, I didn't want to teach her my Faith.  I didn't want her to "forced" into my beliefs, as I felt I had been as a child. (I was still angry with the Christian God and Christianity at the time.  A story for another day.)  Obviously I have changed my thoughts and I'm teaching my Faith to my children.
Teaching my daughter was a learning process for us both.  I don't practice with a group or Coven.  Where I live there are not regular Pagan classes for children.  So I turned to books about raising and teaching children in the Pagan faith.  I never would have guessed that I was already raising her in my Faith, because it's a part of my everyday life.  Believing in a specific Faith isn't just about worshipping on Holidays/Sabbats, specific moon phases, days of the week, or doing specific rituals.  It's living your daily life, from the mundane to the spiritual, in the belief of your Faith.  With each child it became easier to raise them in my Faith.  I had more experience and they had the older child/children example to follow.

A few ideas for teaching children your Faith:
  • "Practice" your Faith in everyday life.  Everyday experiences provide a chance to talk about your beliefs with your children.  For us, we see the Goddess and God in all living creatures.  We know that everything on the earth has a spirit and deserves our respect.
  • Teach simple prayers.  We pray before dinner as a family.  I've taught my children a bedtime prayer.
  • Choose a few Holidays/Sabbats to really teach them about and then keep adding more.  With my children I started with Yule and Ostara, since they are similar to Christian holidays.  I knew that they could relate (from stuff they learned in school and with Grandma).  I also hoped it would help to feel like they "fit in" with their peers.
  • Read stories.  We read stories as a family.  I'm usually the reader and everyone gets comfy and sits around me.  While I'm reading I'll stop so we can talk about the story.  We talk about how the story makes us feel, the characters, what we think will happen, and anything else that comes up.  Some of our favorite stories come from the book Circle Round.
Over the last 12 years the biggest thing I've learned is to keep it fun.  Kids learn best when they are enjoying themselves.  The time I have with my children is precious to me; I want to be having fun and enjoying myself right along side them.
For anyone raising their children with the influence of other faiths (whether it's your choice or not).  Talk with them about how your beliefs and other's beliefs are different and the same.  I find if I'm open with my kids about other faith's they are more open to talk and listen.

~Earthy Mom

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