When a Child asks, Why Aren’t You Jewish?

Some parents fear this question. They aren’t sure what to say. Let’s consider the question and the possible answers.

First, why is your child asking that question? You want to find out what she is thinking. Begin with, “what made you think of that, honey? Why do you ask?”
Some possible reasons are:

Your child may be looking for reassurance that he is close to you even if you are different religions.
Or she may worried that you are not OK about being different.
Is it that someone else, perhaps at school, has said something confusing to him.
Or it could just be curiosity – as in how come our family is like this?

You want to find the source of the child’s question so you can be sure to address it in your answer.

Here’s an answer I think just about anyone can use: “Some people are born Jewish; I wasn’t. Some people decide that in their hearts they want to Jewish so they convert. I haven’t felt that in my heart so I am staying the same way I was born.” (If this answer doesn’t work for you, contact me and we’ll figure out what works for you.)

Wait to see how your child takes that answer. You may want to probe a bit. “Have you been thinking about this? Did someone say something to you about it?” You may even ask, “Is this OK with you or does it bother you?”

Many children want their family to be all the “same.” What SAME means to each child is unique. Take a moment to determine what that is for your child if you think this is a concern. SAME can be that we all sleep in the same house, eat together, love each other, play games and go to the park together, enjoy the same cartoons and books, etc. I have known kids who were upset that their opposite gender parent didn’t have the same genitalia. Why? Because they are very young and haven’t figured out that it’s OK for Mom or Dad to be different that me.

Follow up by pointing out the things you share and enjoy doing together. Reading, baking, going for walks are all things that you may both (or all) enjoy. But most of all it is love that binds you together. Assure your child that you love them SO MUCH and that will hold the two of you together FOREVER.

Posted in Children
Published on May 20th, 2013