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Is your family a blend of faiths?

Created date

September 21st, 2009
Just as America is a melting pot of people from different parts of the world, we are also a melting pot of religions, some imported and some home grown. Now there are some major differences between blending cultures and religions. If a family is half Italian and half Mexican, for example, it s easy to mix the two cultures into everyday life, especially at the dinner table. You can have lasagna for dinner one night and tamales the next, or even lasagna and tamales at the same meal. But religions require that you believe in one set of principles, and while a husband and wife can have two different religions, this becomes more difficult when there are children. You can t really raise them in two religions, as the belief systems may clash. And choosing one can easily cause conflicts, even if not between husband and wife, then between one set of grandparents and the other. And these conflicts can become heightened during the holidays. To me the answer is simple grandchildren are too precious to risk losing over religious differences, so compromise is the order of the day. No family is perfect and so you have to learn to adapt to the situation. If the conflict is religious in nature, my advice is not to raise tensions but do all you can to ease them. Let s say you re Christian and your child has married a Jew and they ve decided to raise the children as Jews. I would advise you to give your grandchildren a Hanukah present as well as Christmas presents. Why? Because you probably don t have enough influence to change your grandchildren s religion, and the more conflict you sow, the less likely those youngsters will grow up sticking with any set of beliefs. You should look at your main job as making sure they do believe, even if the manner in which they show their belief is different from yours. All religions share in the moral values you want for your grandchildren. Shake their belief in their religion and you are also weakening their moral compass. As we get older, religion can become more important to us. But that is a very personal matter, and your long-term view should be that you want your grandchildren to have a religion they can turn to when they get older rather than to try to undermine their belief in one religion in the hopes that they might one day switch to yours.