If you happen to know couples who are involved in an interfaith marriage, while there may have been a couple of challenges when they were newlyweds, most of them will probably tell you that real difficulties did not arise until after they had children. That’s because when it’s simply two adults sharing a life together, there tends to be a natural and mutual respect for one another’s beliefs. But, when children come into the picture, a heartfelt passion about teaching them each religion tends to become a really big issue.
If you happen to be a part of an interfaith union and you’re either planning to have children or just found out that you are pregnant (and if so, congrats, by the way), in order to make things as easy as possible for you, your partner and the little one who’s on the way, we wanted to take out a moment to provide you with five tips on how to successfully raise children in an interfaith home below:
Make sure that love is the foundation of everything. If there’s one thing that basically every religion has in common, it is the belief that love should be the basis of all things. If you and your partner can come to that agreement, then it will make raising your kids much easier, even if it is in an interfaith environment.
Be clear about what you agree on and what you don’t. Say that you’re a Christian and your spouse is Jewish. Obviously, your beliefs on Jesus are going to be pretty different. So, make the time to share the fundamental differences with one another and then talk about what you both agree on. If, for instance, you both agree that he was a good man who did nice things for others, then focus on that being what you talk to your children about.
Answer questions as they are asked. Sometimes parents make things more stressful than they have to be because they are trying to teach all of the pinnacles of their faith at one time. When that means two different religions, understandably, that can be overwhelming for just about any child. In order to make it easier on everyone, agree that you both will answer specific religious questions only when your children ask them. Typically, once kids are able to formulate a question in their own mind, they are better equipped to process the answer they receive.
Show one another support. Although you both ascribe to different beliefs and quotes about religion, your children need to know that you still respect one another as individuals. One of the best ways to convey that message is by showing your spouse support of their own faith. You can do this by attending certain events or special days at their church, temple or synagogue. This is just one more step that you can take to make them and your children feel more comfortable.
Let your children choose. At some point, your children are going to get to a place where they have to choose for themselves what they believe and what they don’t. It may be your faith, it may be your spouse’s or it might be something totally different. Whatever the outcome, be willing to let them make their own decision. At the end of the day, faith is a very personal thing and each individual has the right to come to their own conclusion. This includes your own children.