One of the concerns that is raised by interfaith couples who are thinking about having children is – will I feel different or separate from my child if they are raised in a religion not my own? This is not strictly a problem for male parents but it is more common for men. I suspect that women’s brain differences allow them to feel more connected to their children, whether born or adopted. (Take a look at The Female Brain by Dr Louann Brizendine to get some wonderful insights into how women think differently from men.)
So what can be done to address this worry that having different religions will separated us from our children? A Catholic father raising his three children as Jews was asked that question when he served on a panel of non-Jewish parents. He replied, “Two of my children are girls. Their gender makes them more different from me than religion. Neither bothers me.”
It is important to figure out what bothers you. Is it that your child will not perceive God the same way you do? Or perhaps that they will not DO certain things that you did – be baptized, pray to Jesus, believe in Santa Claus? Or is it that they WILL do something that is not familiar to you? Learn Hebrew, have a bar or bat mitzvah, call themselves Jewish.
Then you need to figure out WHY that bothers you. There is a biological urge to duplicate ourselves in our children. Don’t feel bad about it, just work with it. Consider whether there are meaningful things about you that can be expressed through your child. A love of baseball, a facility for math, musical talent, a love of nature. Or perhaps there’s a hobby that you’ll pass on, gardening, hiking, stamp collecting, reading, sky diving. Think about who you are and see if there are things about you that are individual and specific. Can you make a point of sharing these things with your child?
Want to discuss it? Call me at 510-845-6420 x11