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Blending Religions in a Blended Family
Religion is a polarizing subject in the great USA. To say the least, it can make tempers flare and cause great division even in the closest of relationships. Though religion is a hot button topic it has the potential to add incalculable benefits to those involved. But what happens when a blended family brings into the mix different religious devotions? How do you parent when your spouses’ ex-husband (who gets the kids every other weekend) is a devout Jew and you hold to traditional Christianity? How do you navigate faith conversations? How do you handle when (or even if) your children will learn about their religion? In reality, blended families are difficult enough to navigate, but when blended families bring with them blended religions the water gets even more treacherous. Here are five things to do that will help you take steps toward agreement about how religion will influence your blended family.
Value One Another’s Beliefs
This one may be the most difficult, but as a parent you will need to work to value the religion of someone else within the family. This will be especially difficult if you hold a exclusivist religion like Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. You will need to work very hard at seeing the good qualities – the morals and values – that their religion holds. Remember how devoted you are toward your religion and ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’
Strategically Uphold Traditions
One of the ways that you can pass on the importance of your particular religion within a blended family is to be strategic with traditions that you create within the family. It may be prayer and Scripture reading over breakfast on school days or celebrating the Jewish festivals- whatever it is, be intentional. Teach the stories and the values of your religion. Don’t be harsh, but be honest. Ultimately, truth is caught more than it is taught – so live your religion out in your blended family. This could be the most powerful thing you do!
Patience is a virtue! Be patient and remember that one conversation that another parent has with your child or one outing they take most likely will not ‘convert’ them. You have to exhibit patience because you are the one that signed on to the blended family and blended religion was part of the deal. So practice patience. Be patient with your children, your spouse, and ex-spouses. This virtue is key to keeping the peace within a blended family.
Seek to Understand
Work hard at understanding another parents’ religion. Ask questions of ‘why’ they believe what they believe. You may be surprised to find that it has to do with upbringing or being hurt or general skepticism. Whatever you find you will be glad you did your research and honestly worked at understanding another parents faith system.
Put Relationships First
Finally, you should work to put relationships first. It may be hard if you are an atheist to be happy with another parent who is Christian, but you must work at putting people first. Loving your family well means loving who they are (religion included). This principle is crucial, for it is people who you live your life with. Remember religion without community is ultimately no religion at all.