- Raising Children when Parents do not Share the Same Faith Background
- Children's Religious Development After a Divorce
Question: "My future wife and I are continuing to discuss our hopes and plans for the future and are fully committed to one another, to having a family together and raising our children in a loving and supportive home. I am seeking your insight and advice on how we can best accomplish this and raise our children as much as possible to be good, kind and successful people."
Answer: Work hard at identifying any potential parenting disagreements you might have regarding future children.
In addition, while it's not inappropriate for interreligious couples to expose the children to both partners' religious and cultural traditions, parents in an interreligious home must be more sensitive about the effects this process might have on their children's religious and cultural development.
Interreligious parents should also be familiar with their partner's religious and cultural tradition and express any discomfort respectfully whenever possible. This ground rule will help model respect for religious and cultural differences among all members of the family.
Comments and Question: I recently suffered through an unwanted divorce. Anyway, she is Greek Orthodox and I am from another Christian tradition. We have 3 children. They have been baptized in the Greek Church. Anyway, I am finding it to be difficult to continue to foster and encourage them to attend, participate and observe Greek Orthodoxy versus my Christian faith as well as what would appear to be simple things such as do I take them to my Church on Sunday or to the Orthodox Church? Any recommendations on how to resolve this internal conflict would also be appreciated.
Answer: Although you are seeking specific suggestions, I cannot answer until I have more information related to questions like the following: Which parent has custody? Which parent is the most religious and spiritual? Which parent cares the most about the children's religious and spiritual well-being? Which parent is most likely to assume responsibility for nurturing the children's growing faith. What are the terms of the civil divorce?
I will offer a few observations. Children need consistency in all aspects of their lives. This includes their religious development. If the two of you are on speaking terms, I would suggest you both try to work through this developmental need in a way that places your children's needs first. Some realities that may influence this discussion are as follows:
Which parent may be the most committed parent when it comes to meeting your children's developing religious needs?
Should we expose them to both parent's religious traditions?
Are your children old enough to make decision on their own, if so, do you know their preferences?
How will exposure to both parent's backgrounds enhance or detract from their religious development?
Other than both of you and your children, which extended family members' feelings and thoughts might be considered?