Balanced Advice for Interfaith Families

Today, you can read a Q and A with me over on a blog called Moms Are Human. Blogger Elizabeth Katz (no relation) is a young intermarried mom who contacted me for more information on the “both” option for interfaith families.

Maybe because my interfaith identity often means I see more than one viewpoint on an issue, I try not to go bossing interfaith couples around:  I do not rank the choices interfaith families have, or label any of them problematic. I understand interfaith families choosing Judaism. I also understand interfaith families choosing Christianity, or Islam, or Buddhism…

If, on this blog, I continue to highlight the full exploration of both family religions, I do this because it is the journey of my own children, and the one I am best qualified to describe in real time. But also, I emphasize this option because it is the least understood, with little support from religious institutions, and little presence in the media or cyberspace.  As an interfaith child and a journalist, I feel compelled to provide counterweight: I am keenly aware of issues of balance. And so I blog to disseminate the existence of the “both” option, but I do not claim that it is the right option for everyone.

I  understand that alliance with religious institutions, and allegiance to a particular belief system, practically obligates a blogger to advocate one option over other options. Because independent interfaith communities do not prescribe to a particular set of beliefs,  we do not feel compelled to urge families to adopt a particular religious label (though some members of independent interfaith communities do label their children as Jewish, for instance, while still wanting their children educated in both religious traditions).

In the end, in spite of my ambivalence about giving advice, I did respond to Elizabeth’s request to provide specific strategies that will be helpful in raising interfaith children, no matter what choices a couple makes.

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2 Comments on “Balanced Advice for Interfaith Families”

  1. Elizabeth Says:

    Thanks, Susan, for all of your guidance. I look to others in similar situations because there are pieces from most interfaith families that I can pull from – and mistakes made that I can learn from and try not to do. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to pick your brain. I enjoyed learning about what you are doing with your family. I am a big supporter of “teaching, not preaching.” As I raise my son, I’m very aware that he could find himself in a similar situation when he finds his life partner…I think it’s my job to raise him with an open mind – I think it will make his life more enjoyable and hopefully a little easier…

    Anyway, please check out my post yesterday: http://www.momsarehuman.com/2010/07/our-interfaith-families-mine-and-mah.html. While I often keep a lot of this kind of stuff private, I figured me sharing my so-far experience in an interfaith fam could help others.

    I appreciate your open mind and your approach to an interfaith family.

    I will continue to follow your blog; I’m going to book mark it on my blog. Keep it up!

  2. Katrina Says:

    I so enjoyed getting to know some of your thoughts through Elizabeth’s blog. And I’m glad I now have your wonderful blog to follow – thank you!

    My husband was raised as a non-practicing, not-so-sure Christian; I was raised a strict Catholic. While we don’t have children right now, we’re still trying to figure out the healthy balance for faith our relationship.

    In college, I nannied a couple whose guidance to their children was that they had to participate in some sort of faith-filled, religious experience at least once a week – but it was entirely of their choosing. For the most part, the children continuously chose to experience different and unique religious experiences. I thought it was a great way to educate your children on a much broader level about what faither and religion can mean to many different people on many fronts.

    Anyways – I’m glad I received an introduction to you from Elizabeth’s blog. Thanks for the postings and for the open mind…it’s refreshing.

    Best wishes –


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