I’ve found the majority of mommy bloggers are Christian – not that there’s anything wrong with that of course! – so I wondered about writing a piece about being a Pagan mama and how I currently (and plan to, in future, as they grow older) enrich my children’s souls and spirituality.
I’m not one to force any particular belief on anyone else. I think it’s unnecessary. But I do believe in providing experiences and knowledge for my children, and encouraging certain ideals. I hope by providing these things will help grow them into amazing human beings who are able to think for themselves and make the decisions about their own lives that are right for them.
So my general outline for providing spiritual enrichment for my children is:
1. Get them out in nature
As a Pagan myself, I revere and worship nature. Nature is my god. We have a beautiful silver birch tree in our front yard that I have lovingly named “Berkana”, and she will never (not while we’re living here!) be cut down or damaged by human hands – other than the occasional ‘hair cut’ when she’s growing a bit too close to our roof! As the kids get older, I can see us sitting out under Berkana with a picnic lunch and looking up at her branches as the sun filters through her leaves. Taking that time to sit and appreciate the beauty of nature – of the simple things in life – I hope will encourage them to care for their environment.
2. Take them to museums and the library
I was an avid museum and library attendee as a child, and I LOVED the adventure that a new book would bring, or staring at the stars in the planetarium, or studying bugs. You know how, when our kids are babies, we’re told that sleep promotes sleep, so naptime is crucial? Well the same is for learning – learning promotes learning. The more we learn, the more our minds open to new and wonderful things. I think I can thank museums and libraries for opening my mind and helping me become an independent thinker.
3. Have pets
This we can already check off the list – we have two cats, Delilah and Hendrix, who were here before the children were! – but having pets promotes love and care, as well as responsibility. By having pets, my children will grow up learning how to respect other life, and taking responsibility – of feeding, brushing, changing cat litter (when they’re a bit older, of course!) – is an important life skill. It’s also been shown that pets make our lives happier and healthier – they provide meaningful social support, greater self-esteem and promote physical fitness.
4. Encourage to learn music and dance
It’s already known that music is a strong emotional tool, and learning an instrument or singing stimulates the brain, emotions and the body. Learning music and dance helps our speech, movement (including coordination) and self-expression. It has also been proven as a healing tool – one in four adults in the US suffers from a mental illness, and it has been shown that listening to and playing music is a potent treatment for mental health issues. It improves symptoms and social functioning amongst schizophrenics and has demonstrated efficacy as an independent treatment for reducing depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.
5. Meditation and yoga
Yoga has been used for centuries as not only a physical exercise that strengthens our bodies, but strengthens our minds and spiritual selves as well. It teaches a respect for our bodies, encourages good health choices, and opens the mind. Meditation is also important, if not only for the simple fact it provides quiet time for our minds to rest and relax. Researchers at Harvard Medical School discovered that, in long-term practitioners of relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation, far more ”disease-fighting genes” were active, compared to those who practiced no form of relaxation. Genes that protect against high blood pressure, infertility, pain and even rheumatoid arthritis were shown to ‘activate’ through meditation and yoga.
I most certainly will enroll my children in karate or other martial arts when they are old enough. Why? Knowing that you’re able to defend yourself builds self-esteem and reassurance. The fact that these arts are also strong reminders to respect others and their bodies – don’t touch another person without their permission unless they touch you without your permission – is important to me as the mother of both a boy and a girl. My daughter needs to know she has rights over her own body, and my son needs to know he has no right over anyone else’s.
7. Arts and Crafts
Even though I’m not a particularly “arty” person, I enjoy creating – I crochet and knit, I like to paint, and I like to design. Exercising the creative parts of the brain is just as important as the logic side. Having an appreciation for art and creation and knowing what kind of work goes into creating a masterpiece (and indeed defining one’s idea of what a masterpiece is) is oh so important to open minds and respecting others.
There’s of course a mass amount more I could mention, but these are the key points for me personally. How about you? How do you (or how do you intend to) enrich your childrens’ souls?