(Closed) Raising kids in an interfaith household

posted 10 years ago in Interfaith
Post # 47
5822 posts
Bee Keeper

As a Hostess, I am asking that all users please try to stay on topic. What exactly is the topic?

  • The OP is in an interfaith relationship.
  • Her wedding is being co-officiated by a Catholic priest and a Rabbi.
  • Her rabbi has asked that they promise to raise their children Jewish.
  • How should she handle the situation?

Judgements/arguments on the validity of a co-officiated marriage should be left to another thread (POST YOUR OWN IF YOU HAVE TO).  Please stop bringing this topic up in every interfaith thread, especially if that is not one of the questions the OP is asking.  It doesn’t help anyone, and it’s hard to follow the advice and sort out the rest.

Post # 48
642 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

I would like to apologize, I feel like one or two sentences in a PP of mine may have led to this getting off topic in the first place.  

Now, staying on topic: I actually enjoyed growing up with both sides of my family teaching me about Catholicism and Judaism.  I did feel like I lacked a little on Judaism so in college I took a course on it and found it very interesting.  As an adult, I have made the decision to practice neither.  BUT, I feel like learning about both as a child contributed to me having an open mind regarding religion and embracing people’s differences.  (And I liked being able to identify with one group over my Jewish last name and grandma’s matzah ball soup and the other over my participation in the church).  I guess the hard decision you are faced with is whether or not to raise them as Jewish or Catholic, or both.  You could just educate them on both, but not practice and leave that as a decision they can make as they get older.

MissEmilyMarie, what does Fiance think?  What is his opinion on raising the kids?

Post # 50
1309 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: December 2011

Oh gosh this is a tough situation. I am coming from the Catholic perspective so I am surely biased that way.

The one thing that sticks out is that you said his family is not very religious, and yours is. I think it is MUCH harder to raise kids in a faith without support from the extended family.

I come from interfaith parents. Mom is Catholic and her family was dead, Dad is Protestant and all of his relatives were alive and Protestant although not devoutly so. They decided to raise us kids Catholic.

But we wound up not being raised in ANY faith, really, because it was so hard for Mom to manage without support and kind of go against the grain of the rest of the family. This really upset her over the years, that she wasn’t able to give us more of a spiritual foundation, although she tried her best. It’s hard to get all the kids up on Sunday morning and go to Mass without your husband, or teach the kids to say their prayers that don’t match what their cousins have learned (the Catholic and Protestant “Our Fathers” are different etc.)

I don’t really mean this, because I love being and am grateful and proud to be Catholic, but perhaps it would have been a better choice on Mom’s part to raise us Protestant as she would have had a lot more support from Dad’s family, who were still living. In my case and my sister’s case we both chose to become very committed to Catholicism as adults (my sister even entered the convent at 22!) But my two brothers are kind of lost in the world, not just spiritually but in general (drinking, no direction in life etc) and maybe it would have been better to have a strong Protestant foundation than a very weak Catholic one.

My FI’s extended family is Catholic and when his mom was sick and his dad was out of town, his grandparents and aunts were always available to take him and his siblings to Mass. They also were able to particpate as an entire family in feast days, baptisms, prayers before meals, prayers in times of sickness etc.

I pretty much chose to only pursue courtship with men who shared my faith tradition as a result of this issue. If you wind up choosing to raise the kids Jewish, will FI’s family maybe try to step it up and become more practicing/devout themselves? Otherwise I would definitely go with the Catholic side of things, simply because I could never see myself trying to bring kids up in a religion without that kind of multigenerational support. But that is just the fruit of my own personal experience.


Post # 51
125 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

@MissEmilyMarie: very similar situation here.  I’m a fairly devout (but liberal as all get out) Lutheran; Fiance is Jewish (Reform).  He’s not spiritual, really, but does deeply value the tradition and culture of Judaism.  It isn’t a stumbling block in our relationship (we enjoy discussing our religions and go to services in each other’s houses of worship on important holidays, etc) but I know that if we had children, our memories and traditions would rise to the surface and it would become a much bigger deal than it presently is.

I’m sorry that your rabbi drew such a hard line.  Raising the children Jewish isn’t in itself a bad idea, but it should be your family’s decision and not something you feel pressured about. 

I’ve thought about saying, “Let’s just raise ’em Jewish” BECAUSE Judaism is such a cultural and familial experience.  It’s a history and a background to draw from, and I don’t want to deny my children the richness of that heritage.  It’s also an extremely time-intensive religion to grow up in (Hebrew school anyone?), and I don’t want to overwhelm my children with religious school & Hebrew school AND church and Sunday school.  I don’t want them to burn out on religion or become Scientologists or something.

But my faith is such a deep part of me.  It’s a core.  I can’t imagine not sharing that with my children, I think my heart would break a little bit.

Our current plan is to raise any children in both faiths.  But how do we do that?  How do we teach them (with their often contradictory points) to our children?  How do we find local clergy who will support this path? 

I don’t have an answer, just an expression of solidarity, really.  If you think of anything, let me know.  🙂  Blessings and good luck. 

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