Deciding where to spend the holidays and what school to send your kids are things all families deal with. Now if you add the complexity of interfaith marriage in the mix, things get a lot more complicated.
Making decisions about how to raise your kids become incredibly complex when both parents have different faiths or disagree on the existence of a higher power.
According to Pew Research Center, 39% of Americans who got married after 2010 had spouses of different faiths; before the 1960s, only 19% of couples in the US married into another faith.
While the idea of putting differences aside and prioritizing their love for each other is commendable, many interfaith couples admit that raising children in such marriages can be quite a challenge.
If you’re raising a child in an interfaith marriage, these tips can help:
Talk it Out with Your Partner before You Have Kids
Ideally, couples should decide on how they want to raise their kids before having them.
Think about how your religion impacts your life. What do you do differently because of what your religion says? Do you think your religion made you a better person or did it cause unnecessary troubles in your life? Do you agree with your religion completely or are there things you don’t like about it? Very few people in the world can honestly say that they follow their faith to the tee.
Discuss all these things with your partner and see what they have to say about their faith.
Don’t Wait For Your Kids to Decide
Some parents are under the impression that it’s best to leave it to the kids to decide what faith they want to follow if any at all. The problem with this is that most kids will have exposure to faith way before they gain an understanding of what it really is. It’s natural for them to get curious about Christmas trees, Hanukah, churches, mosques, etc.
They’re going to have lots of questions and parents will have to come up with answers.
Focus on Raising Good People
One of the reasons people hold on to religion is that it serves as a guide; most religions instill a set of values in those who practice them. Whether it’s to give charity, to look after the elderly, to practice forgiveness, etc. Many of these values help people become better humans.
Think about the values both your religions promote and focus on those. Most religions share similar values, you may find that there are a lot more similarities in your faiths than there are differences.
If you decide to raise your child with a single faith, make sure you also teach them to respect other faiths.
Still have doubts about how to raise kids in an interfaith marriage? Consider working with a cross-cultural marriage counselor.
Azizeh is an experienced couple’s counselor based in Palo Alto. She offers cross-cultural couple’s therapy through which she teaches couples communication tools that they can use to have a healthier relationship and provides guidance on parenting.
Call(650) 206-9973 today for a free 20-minute consultation and to book an appointment.