Patheos: When Kids Meet the Gods
"In a culture where our kind of spirituality is either seen as demonic or ridiculously silly, reacting to a child’s description of spirits or the supernatural by dismissing their experience is an awful thing. Growing up, I had many imaginary friends – and I wonder now how imaginary they really were, or if a society obsessed with objective reality and facts pushed me away from them." ~ Molly Khan
When I read this article, it instantly took me back to my childhood, sitting on the hill in front of my still BFF's apartment, by myself, against a tree and talking to the Spirits. They were my friends, companions. Then there was Hestia, who was like a step mom. Grown ups and other kids called them imaginary friends, but I don't know that I was ever that creative. They were real to me then, and still are. Some have come and gone, but a couple are still around. Some friends even stop by to check up on me, give me some reminders. They're real to me and that's all that matters.
When I see my kids grow, I've often seen the boys interact with someone--person or animal--that I wasn't able to see or sense. It's not my place to make a judgement on the who or what. I'm never going to call his friends imaginary. For all I know, they're interacting with our Ancestors, Spirits, Guides, their Spirit Animals, or even the Gods themselves. It's not my job to ruin his childhood and faith with my reality.
I know one person in particular who Wolfman interacts with is the baby I lost. He's a little older than Wolfman, but had told me, through the pendulum, that they play together sometimes. Who am I to tell my son that what's he's experiencing isn't real? And how hypocritical would that be? I believe in and interact with the Spirits and Deities daily, yet what my son is experiencing is wrong or fake? What? Get outta here with that nonsense.
I was watching Kate Plus Eight the other day and one of her boys had said that lobsters had souls. Kate immediately, rudely, shut him down saying that animals don't have souls. He was defiant, saying that he believed that they did, and she pretty much mocked him. In my opinion, that's not good parenting, then again, she's fairly controlling anyway. But I'm also controlling and I'd never tell my children that their beliefs aren't right because they're different than my own. I'd tell them what I believe and ask them about their beliefs. Hopefully incite some critical thought. Have them ask me about the what's and why's, as well as question themselves. Hopefully give them stronger conviction to their beliefs, so that when someone questions or judges them, they can give a strong answers and not be swayed by negativity. And most importantly, not feel bad or stupid about their beliefs!
I just don't like telling a child how to imagine, play, or believe. That's takes away the magik of the world. The innocence. It takes a part of them away and that's not right.
I didn't exactly have the most stable childhood, but at least my parents never told me that my beliefs were wrong. Although they did say that my imaginary friends were just that, imaginary. I went to Bible school, sometimes we went to church, yet I was allowed to buy my Wicca books and set up my altars. My parents thought it was weird, but then again, it fit me. To them it was a phase, a phase that I should be allowed to go through. I should be allowed to express myself and explore. I never grew out of said phase, but for the most part, they don't mock me for it.
I don't even want to ignore my children's Unseen Friends. I want to know about them. What's their name? Where are they from? What would they like to have for lunch? Would they like to be invited to the sabbat dinner or a ritual?
Like right now, my son is in the playroom talking to an Unseen Friend, probably his brother. How do I know he's talking to someone and not just himself? I'm around my kids 24/7, I know the differences in his voice by now, and he's in there playing with someone, other than his toys.
It's not my call, as to whether they're pretend, Spirit, or Deity. They make him happy and feel safe. That's what's important. Not my job to tell him what or Who to believe in. It's his life, his path, his choice.