Religion

Today I started thinking about religion. I hope in that writing this entry I will get some good comments and not be judged. This has been a big topic in my relationship with my husband. I am Jewish and he is a Christian. He is a lot more religious than I am and goes to church every sunday. I am not that religious and don’t really like going to religious services of any kind. However, I was brought up Jewish and I identify with it and will never convert away from it. I have told my husband that and he is ok with it even though he wishes that I was christian.

When we were dating we used to go back and forth on the subject. He didn’t want to get involved seriously with someone who wasn’t christian. We broke up once and weren’t sure if we had a future. In the end we decided to stay together because we couldn’t imagine life without each other. Things have been great since we got married, but I forsee some issues when we do have kids.

We have been talking about this our whole relationship so that it’s not just something we start to argue about when it happens. He wants our children to be bar/bat mitzvahed as do I. However, he is worried that that process will mean that they don’t go to church for a large chunk of time. I’m nervous for the scheduling since they both have aspects sunday mornings and I don’t know if administrators will deny our children into one sunday school or the other because we are also teaching them about another religion. I also don’t want to overload them and make them totally confused. We just want to expose them to both religions and teach them what mommy believes and what daddy believes, that they have some similar aspects, and let them go with what they feel comfortable with when they are old enough to decide.

Do you guys know anyone who has had to deal with anything similar? Have any suggestions? My thought this morning was to let our children do the church thing with they are younger and supplement at home with jewish books/songs etc with an occasional friday night service. Then when they get older and get ready to go to hebrew school they go to that and supplement with christian things like a small group or some sort of other group at a different time than sunday mornings. That was just my thought of the day, our whole arrangement could totally change. I guess we will just have to see how it all plays out. It’s complicated, but hopefully everything will be ok in the end.

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11 Comments

  1. Growing up in NYC, I’ve had many, many friends throughout the years who were half-Jewish and half-Christian. The parents who were happily married handled it without a problem for their kids. Sure there were challenges and disagreements, but the same could be said about any important issue in life. Most of my friends with this mixture celebrated both religions – had a Christmas tree, but also a menorah, etc. There were exposed to both and allowed to make their own decisions as they got older about which one felt right for them. By and large, most stayed with one foot in each religion. I think the most important thing most of them were taught was that religion wasn’t meant to be taken as literal gospel and that these two religions were not mutually exclusive. Just because Judaism did not consider Jesus as the son of God, didn’t mean they didn’t think he was a cool cat, etc.

    Personally, my DH and I are both Christian, but he is much more religious than I. He grew up going to Catholic school, being an altar boy whereas my family never went to church. He has relaxed in his religion as he got older, doesn’t attend church much anymore, has alot of disappointment in the current state of Catholicism. Whereas, I feel as I have always been spiritual but resent the idea that I must be inside a specific building at a specific time in order to practice my spirituality. We’ve both agreed that if we do ever desire to get involved in organized religion again, it’ll be a more laidback setting but for now we’re comfortable with practicing in on our own.

    Religion has definitely reared its head in our IF struggles, btw. We had some difficult periods when embracing the idea of IVF and the potential of excess embryos (and what to do with them). “Luckily” for us, that’s not an issue since I’m a very poor responder, but it definitely is a consideration in the whole process.

    Good luck working this out. I think if you and DH are happy and committed to working together (and you sound like you are!) then you’ll handle it just fine.

  2. My parents have two different religious backgrounds and it never was an issue. My dad talked about what he believed. My mom talked about what she believed, and we were left to make our own decision. My DH and I also come from two different religious backgrounds. He is a Christian. I am, in the words of a Catholic priest friend, a Buddhist-Catholic (it’s a long story). DH is okay with us letting our children decide what they choose to be their path with religion. I don’t feel comfortable force feeding children just one religion and not opening their eyes to others. My parents took us to Jewish Temple, mosques, Catholic and Protestant churches, Buddhist monasteries, and several other religious holy grounds. The result being, we are all very spiritually attuned and very respectful of others choices.

    Teaching your children to respect and love your and your DH’s religious backgrounds is very important. Your DH may wish you to be Christian…but the fact is that you aren’t and he should try to accept and love your choices. Whatever choice you make, it will be a good one…so long as you make it together.

    Have a great day.

  3. EC

    Those are hard questions. I grew up Catholic, and DH isn’t really religious at all, so it kind of works out (since he doesn’t really care). Even though I was raised Catholic, my family was laid-back about it. I’m not really a practicing Catholic anymore, but I would probably still lean that way with a child. I have issues with the Catholic church, but I still pretty much consider myself Catholic. It’s hard to know how I’ll feel when I actually have a child.

    I did have a few friends who were raised by parents with different beliefs. It seems like it worked out fine – they’re perfectly normal. 🙂 I will say that the ones I know are not religious at all (and don’t really identify with either group), but they may have been that way, regardless of their upbringing.

  4. Al

    I think it’s very cool that you and your husband want to expose them to both religions. And it’s great that you’re hashing out the details of how this will work now, so you don’t fight about it later.

    I was raised Catholic and went to a Catholic school K-8. By the time I went to college, I was very eager to learn about other religions and get away from what I was immersed in as child. I learned how to tune out church after going 6 times a week as child (when I went to a Catholic school). So, I guess that’s my only advice is to make sure you come up with a plan that doesn’t give them too much of a good thing.

    Good luck coming up with something that works for you and your husband!

  5. JC

    I don’t have any tips or advise but I had a good friend in high school who’s mom was jewish and dad was christian and they did both. And I have a co-worker who is christian and his wife is jewish. So I know it can be done and be successful!

  6. Well, my DH and I are in a similar situation. He’s Catholic, and I am Wiccan… it poses wome weird issues, but I think one of the few advantages infertility provides is the time to discuss and work out what to do about these issues before they’re a pressing issue. We plan to ‘practice’ both, and expose any children we have to as many religions as possible and let them chose when they’re older. We’ll see how it goes if/when we actually put these ideas into practice… but I truly believe it can be done.

  7. My husband and I share pretty similar spiritual beliefs, so I can’t speak from experience, but I do know LOTS of couples who are from different faiths and expose their children to both. I actually think it’s really neat to teach your kids different faiths – they will have a much more well-rounded world view!

  8. Lin

    No personal experience, but dear friends of ours deal with this to some extent. She’s Baptist and he’s Catholic/Jewish. That’s to say that he was raised Jewish, but is now a practicing Catholic. Anyway, they have an adorable almost 4-year old, E. E goes to church with Mom one week and church with Dad the next. She’d one that most of her life, so it’s just what she’s used to. No confusion!

    It’s great that you are both so open to talking about the issue in preparation for baby. I suspect that it will be a much easier process when the time comes! Kudos!

  9. Jem

    My mom is Jewish and my father not. I was raised culturally Jewish, but I was exposed to a lot more Christianity than Judeism. My childhood was enriched by Christianity. I was not bat mitzvah’ed or given a Jewish name until I married. At times I wish I knew more Hebrew, knew more of the songs, the prayers, the holidays. We did celebrate Passover and Hannukah, but that was it.

    Later in life I have chosen a Jewish identity, a Jewish husband and we were married by a cantor in a Jewish ceremony. My husband isn’t religious at all. I go to high holiday services and the majority of my close friends are Jewish. My husband is an East Coast Jew, and I’m West Coast, which means his identity is much more Jewish than mine and I have to work at it.

    I’m of the “chose one and go with it” camp. That said, making sure the children are exposed to both faiths (and others, too) is important.

    Technically, your children will be Jewish, because you are, as the mother.

    Whatever you choose fro them will be good.

  10. Such a tough question especially since both religions are so different…I read in an article that parents should choose one religion and go with it, so the children aren’t confused and so the children don’t feel like they have to choose between their mom’s religion or their dad’s religion. I wish I saved the article. I don’t know if I agree with that but I don’t think I disagree with it either, lol, that doesn’t make sense. In one hand, I’ve seen confusion (I nanny’d for a christian/jewish) family and the kiddos would get the religions all mixed up (one was 12 the others were 9, 5, 3, so they weren’t all little) but I also liked that they were able to choose when they grew up. They observed all the Jewish holidays and all the Christian holidays. They would go to two services a week. Mom would go with dad and dad would go with mom…it was a lot but the kids actually liked it because they had two sets of church friends.

    My dad was a devot Christian and my mom was not. My mom never attended church with us and I hated it and for five years us kids didn’t go with my dad because we used the excuse well we want to stay home with mom. As we grew up, we decided to go on our own. I think because we weren’t forced it made us go. If I didn’t have to work, I would go every sunday.

    I think I would personally expose the kids to both.

    babyparamore.blogspot.com

  11. I think your plan sounds like a good one! Being a Christian myself, I don’t really know a lot about the Jewish culture (although, now that I have several blog friends who are Jewish, I’m trying to learn – bear with me if I say something stupid and please correct me but don’t be angry with me!). I can’t imagine a Christian church denying the children access to the church because they’re learning about Judaism as well. I wouldn’t think they would be denied access to a Temple either, but I don’t have any first hand knowledge on that end.

    Its a similar, yet still very different, situation with The Hubs and I being from different countries. Although he’s from England and I’m from the US and they’re not that different on the surface, there are some very large subtle differences. The Hubs and I want our children (when we have them) exposed to both. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting your children to know your culture as well as your husband’s. I hope things work out for you!

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