Raising a Spiritual Child in an Interfaith Marriage
All couples have to learn how to balance each other's backgrounds, but for interfaith couples this becomes a primary task. People who intermarry are making a strong statement about their tolerance for differences. By intermarrying, you give yourselves and your children a different form of religion and celebration from the one that you grew up with.
Interfaith couples must ask themselves: How do we balance our differing backgrounds in ways that can express each partner's heritage, without violating the feelings of the other partner? The answer can be found in creating new family rituals that speak for who you are and who your family is now, in the present.
Sit down with your spouse and talk about the childhood religious celebrations and practices that were the most meaningful to both of you. Ask yourselves:
- What were the elements of these that made them special? Was it the stories, the music, the lights, the food or the family connection?
- What elements of these would you like to bring into your current family life and celebrations? How can you do that in a way that your partner can tolerate?
A client of mine, for example, married to a Jewish man, sorely missed her Christmas tree. She worried that, with Christmas absent in her life, her child was being denied an important piece of her (the mom's) identity. Her husband could not tolerate a tree, but they came up with a solution: each year she placed her childhood ornament collection on the mantle and she described the meaning of each one to her child. In this way she shared her heritage with her child by creating a ritual that worked for all of them.