This year will be remembered in my family, as I am sure in yours, for many reasons, some of them wonderful highlights to our family’s story, others we would sooner forget.
Then there are those moments that have proven tricky to navigate while still maintaining a culture of honour and respect in key relationships with others.
Our five-year-old son attends a small school, where he has been very happy and quite honestly, we as parents have had no serious issues or concerns at all in the three years he has attended the school. But what has become clear following a change of ownership and as the year has progressed, is the fundamental difference between our worldview as parents and that of the leadership of the school, as evidenced in the types of extracurricular activities the school hosts and what is cause for a “celebration”’.
To be clear, we have not taken issue with all activities or celebrations in the school calendar, only a few, and for what we as parents deem to be good reason based on our personal Christian belief system.
Some of the questions we have found ourselves asking this year include:
Can I as a parent allow my child to participate in the fun and educational aspect of “fairy gardening” while ignoring the fact that the purpose of the garden is to lure fairies (morphed spirits who previously dwelled in trees, plants and rocks) so that they can live there?
Can I as a parent send my child to school on a day specifically set aside for “dress up” and “trick or treating” when I disagree with the form these traditions have taken over the years and their connection to the celebration of Hallowe’en?
Then there’s the tooth mouse or tooth fairy (depending on where in the world one grew up) and the questions we have concerning a childhood tradition that has its roots in an old protective custom involving witchcraft and the ‘power’ of body parts such as teeth and hair, which could be harnessed to harm or control a person.
Now some might say that these concerns are petty, that this is just “innocent fun” and that the heart behind the school’s initiatives is good and even to be applauded: to foster the idea that school is also a fun place to be, to cultivate team work, while also finding creative ways to do fundraising for the school.
To which I say, there are many other ways to have good, clean fun and to cultivate a sense of belonging even imagination in children while also coming alongside the school to fund projects. There is simply no need to associate any school event with pagan rituals or traditions even if that is what is popular or expected.
I am, of course, aware that there are many traditions in our modern day lives that have their origins in pagan rituals and traditions. The Christmas tree is one of them. What I am not saying, and what we as a family certainly don’t do, is make a point of analysing in excruciating detail the origins of every custom we encounter. What we do try to do is to first apply our minds and our hearts to those things that we do engage in or are expected to participate in and ask ourselves the following questions:
- Does it align with our personal Christian belief system (Ephesians 5 v 7 – 17) and, if it does, then
- Does it also align with our family value system (and how we choose to spend our time and our resources)?
In all of these things, we try as far as is possible to adopt a culture of honour and respect towards those that may have a different worldview to us. It is not about who’s right and who’s wrong. That is not for us to decide.
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