This is a topic that my opinion on has changed in the last two years. I originally believed that a child should not have religion until they were old enough to choose, this probably comes from the fact that I had no choice in religion growing up and when I got old enough to choose, I chose Wicca. Then as I started my blog, PaganDad, I started thinking that a child needed spirituality and could do without religion. Yet lately I have come to the realization that spirituality alone is not enough in most cases. Oftentimes spirituality needs a "framework" to grow on. I think that the best framework for spirituality is religion. As long as that religious choice is up to the child when they get old enough to make their own decisions.
Imagine, if you will, a viny plant (something like ivy) without a trellis to grow on, it will grow out everywhere and be wild and out of control. This vine is very much like one's spirituality, without religion to grow on and be supported by it can become wild or unfocused. But with that trellis it can grow up and up, with no limit but the sky. Becoming stronger and harder to cut away.
On the other hand, I know that some of you may be trying hard to see how the two can be separated. I know that at one point I saw no distinction either, but I have found that spirituality is best defined as the belief in something greater and larger then ourselves, something not of this physical plane. On the other hand religion is the worship of that greater and larger thing, a belief that Deity is there to guide us and help us. With these definitons it is easy to see a separation between the two.
In relation to family, I hope that you do decide to include your child in your religion. If you are Pagan then you should not be worried that they are going to feel obligated to stay here, since our religion is about personal choice and lacks the concept of guilt over "sin". Then again they may stay after they "shop" around the other religions, for I like to think that we have more fun in Circle.
With my family I plan on exposing my youngest, who I am homeschooling, to all of the religions in an objective manner when she approaches the age of choice. This age of choice will be determined upon her maturity.
Now if you do decide to include your kids remember to regard your children's ages when you do so. They have different levels of attention spans, adjust your rituals contents and length according to that. I have a five year old that I include in ritual, and my rituals are fun and short. No long invocations or elaborate rules, just an acknowledgement of the elements and a conversation with the Gods. Then a small explanation of what that night's ritual means and then a quick closing. Short, Simple, Easy.
To close I wanted to leave you with a quote from a friend of mine, Jon Edens of Blackberry Circle in Texas, "The Family that Circles Together Dances Forever".
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