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Good Witch vs. Bad Witch Returns: Raising Kids Church-Free

Many sites have a personal affairs columnist, but here at PaganSquare we have a pair of dueling advice divas: Good Witch and Bad Witch. Yes, the witchy separated-at-birth twins from newWitch magazine are back!

Good Witch and Bad Witch are open for business and ready for your questions. Ask our Dynamic Duo anything witchy, Pagan, and of a personal nature. (Don't ask them to do spellwork for you, or predict the winner of the next Presidential election, however. Even GW/BW have limits.) To submit your question use the form at or private message them at the Witches & Pagans Facebook page.)

First Question:
I'm upset because it seems my own family takes my daughter to church behind my back. It upsets me because they don't tell me. What can I say or do about this to my family? My sister-in-law will not allow her 8 year old daughter know that I'm Pagan but she takes my daughter to church. What can I do? Please Help!!!

— Sara from Seattle

Good Witch writes:

Dear Sara,

I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this. It sounds like what you’re most upset about is your sister-in-law going behind your back, so you need to talk to her about that first. Find a time when the two of you can be alone. Take a deep breath and try to stay calm throughout the conversation. If you get angry or dramatic, she’s less likely to take you seriously, and if she already thinks you’re weird for being Wiccan, going all berserker on her isn’t going to help your case.

Tell her you know she’s been taking your daughter to church, and you feel betrayed because she kept it secret from you. Tell her it’s not okay for her to keep secrets about your daughter, and moving forward you expect to be informed about where she takes your child. Say that you’re family, and even if you disagree on religion, you need to treat each other with respect.

Next bring up the religion issue. Tell your sister-in-law firmly that you object to your daughter being brought to church. Remind her that you have respected her wishes and have not told her daughter you’re Wiccan, and you will continue to do so, but you expect her to respect your right to your own religious choice in return, even if she doesn’t agree with it. Make it very clear you’re NOT threatening to break your promise if she doesn’t stop taking your child to church. Threatening her will not help you.

It’s possible she won’t understand why you’re upset about this. After all, she’s not putting your child in harm’s way, right? Many Christians don’t see the privilege they have as the most prominent religion in the country or know what it’s like to have to defend your religion over and over again. (Some think they know, but that’s a rant for another time.)

Out of curiosity I searched for “took my child to church without my permission” on a couple of parenting blogs and found an answer to the effect of: “What better group of people would you want your kid around than a group of Christians? Oh the horror of them, telling your kid Jesus loves him!” Unfortunately, this attitude was fairly common.

If she doesn’t understand, or—worse yet—thinks she’s “saving” your child, tell her firmly you won’t tolerate your daughter being told her mother’s religion is wrong or evil or having your parental authority undermined. Then ask her how she would feel if you took her child to one of your religious ceremonies without telling her. Again, do not make it sound like you’re threatening to do this; just try to show her why what she’s done is hurtful.

If the sister-in-law is on your daughter’s father’s side rather than yours, and if you’re still together with your daughter’s father (or at least friendly), it would be best to get him to help you present a polite, firm united front. But don’t gang up on her; it will only make her dig her heels in harder.

Bad Witch sez:

Dear Seattle:

Does it upset you that they take your child to church, or that they don’t tell you? If it’s the latter, as you wrote, then it’s simple — tell them, in no uncertain terms, that you must be informed about your child’s whereabouts at all times. There — done! And make sure and give her a shiny quarter for the collection plate.

But if what you really object to is your meddling sister-in-law trying to indoctrinate your beloved offspring into a religion you disagree with, you need to consider your personal situation. Do you have a partner/mate/baby daddy who will back you up? Check with him and see. This sister-in-law baggage — is this your brother’s wife? She’s not your boss. She’s barely in the family!

Do you like your family? Does your family support you financially? Do you live with them? Are you tied to your mother’s apron strings?

Look, I don’t know you and I’m guessing you’re pretty young. You have several options but what you decide to do will depend on your relationship with your family and, honestly, how tough you are. Here are some possible tactics, from the easiest to what we will cheerfully call The Nuclear Option.

  1. Have a heart-to-heart chat and don’t be wimpy about it. “This is my kid and I don’t want her going to church with you. Got it?” You run the risk of making them even sneakier. The further risk is that you will make the Everlasting Church of Evangelical Pulchritude (or whatever the church is called) look like forbidden fruit for the kid, who will sneak off at fourteen to join the lively youth group, the one with the cute boys.
  2. Don’t leave your kid with your family, especially on Wednesday evenings and all day Sunday. Duh. If you are visiting your family, take the kid — and try to figure out how to lure that 8 year old cousin over to our side. I recommend cookies. But don’t expect them to watch your kid all day Sunday and not take her to church. That dog won’t hunt, girlfriend.
  3. Use witchcraft, yes, witchcraft. (NOTE: Only do this option in combination with #1, 2, or 4, not on its own. You can’t expect the Powers to Back you if you don’t act on the mundane plane as well.)

You can start with setting wards around your property and shielding your spawn. Next, dress a 7 day candle with Mind Your Own Beeswax oil (see recipe below) and let it burn until it’s completely done. While you’re at it, make a little doll of that sister-in-law (obviously, she has ticked me off) and put duct tape over the mouth and chant three times — "May the Goddess awaken in every heart." Heck, just asking her for some fingernail clippings or a lock of her hair should be enough to shut her up.

If all these options fail and you fear for your child’s immortal soul, go to the Nuclear Option. Tell the Patriarch and Matriarch (your mom and dad) that if your wishes are ignored regarding how you raise your children, you will only visit on Christmas and Easter (when the food is likely to be good but the prayers are long). Make sure they know you are not delivering an ultimatum, you are giving them choices. They decide whether they see their precious grandchild more often than twice a year — not you. You are sad it has come to this but it’s out of your hands. You have to have the courage of your convictions to pull this off. If you give in, you will lose this and every future argument.

Personally — not knowing you or your partner or your family — I’d go with #2, possibly in combination with #3. You keep control of the situation, you show you’re a mature and responsible adult and you get to be the boss of your sister-in-law. Never let her forget it either.

But if you aren’t ready to kick butts and stand your ground, go ahead and buy your kid some nice ruffly church dresses. Lots of them, in pastel colors.

Mind Yer Own Beeswax Dressing Oil. Start with 1/4 cup safflower oil. To that add 3-5 grains of annatto and the following essential oils in the amount indicated: 10 drops of lime , 13 drops of anise, 9 drops of bergamot. Put into a small jar, tighten the lid and shake well before use.

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Aryós Héngwis (or the more modest Héngwis for short) is a native of the Pontic-Caspian steppe, born some 5000 years ago, near the village of Dereivka. In his youth he stood out from the other snakes for his love of learning and culture, eventually coming into the service of the local reǵs before moving westward toward Europe. Most recently, Aryós Héngwis left his home to pursue a new life in America, where he has come under the employ of BBI Media as an internet watchdog (or watchsnake, if you will), ever poised to strike the unwary troll.


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