Sometimes it is hard to put words to an idea. The idea of loving one’s own faith tradition and also finding value in other traditions is an idea we commonly discuss. But what does that really look like? Is there a simple way to explain it to children? Or to our parents? I came across a wonderful statement from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. In his book, The Dignity of Difference, he writes about a model of truly seeing beauty in another’s faith and expresses it this way, “It would be like being secure in one’s home, yet moved by the beauty of foreign places, knowing that they are in someone else’s home, not mine, but still part of the glory of the world that is ours.” I like it – especially because it is so concrete. Kids need this kind of clear language when we talk to them about the religions that other members of our families practice. The description can even apply to our atheist and agnostic relatives.
I encourage you to talk to your children about the religious “home” in which they are being raised and to be affirming of other traditions that are a part of your family. For a child, you can also relate the idea to “their room” vs. other rooms in the house. You can express it like this, “Your room is where you sleep and keep your own things. We, your parents, have designated that this is yours while you live here at home. Other rooms, like Mom’s study, may be just for her and the living room is shared. When you grow up and leave, you’ll make choices about where to live and how to live.”
Trust me, parents, your children will indeed determine where and how they will live. Don’t worry that you are “forcing” a tradition on them. You are giving them a foundation. Just as you have made choices different from your own parents, your children will differ from you. For now, under your roof, it is your job to give them the foundation that leads to confidence and that confidence will help them to ultimately make choices that are true to themselves.