Two religions? Here’s how to raise your kids

how to raise the interreligious kids - ZenParent

When a child is born in a culturally or religiously diverse family, it’s a given that she will take to the father’s beliefs owing to the patriarchal society live in. It doesn’t matter if the father himself is a firm believer in his own religion or not.

Something similar happened to Rathi and John (names have been changed to protect privacy). They have known each other for more than a decade and they aren’t one bit religious. However, during the time of their courtship they were sure that their kids will be born and raised as Hindus just like Rathi.  John didn’t have a problem with that. He still doesn’t have a problem with it but since they had a child a year ago, things didn’t go as per their initial plan. Because the paper demanded they fill in a religion and sub-caste field, they had no choice but to baptise their child and write Christian all over the child’s birth certificate.

Just like Rathi, there are several women who have married outside their own community and wished that they could bring up their children exactly the same way they were brought up.  But it doesn’t always happen that a child can take to what the mother’s beliefs are in terms of choosing a religion. Rathi says she has accepted this fact and really doesn’t care whether her child is now a Hindu or Christian. On a day-to-day basis, both Rathi and John aren’t particularly following the rituals of their respective religions. They celebrate Diwali and Christmas with the same gusto. She also adds that she would be fine if her child one day came to her and said she wanted to convert to another religion.

How an interfaith couple can handle their kids - ZenParent

However, she does share with us a few things that one must remember at all times:

  • Although you may have to fill in the religion tab with the one religion on the birth certificate almost immediately, it’s best to teach children about both religions. Initially, the child might get confused but as she grows up the child will be inclined to that one religion.
  • At that time, it’s best to let the child decide. Don’t enforce religion on someone, says our constitution. So be it.
  • It’s not always necessary that your child must grow up in the same way you did, so accept it. The earlier you do this, the better. This applies to both the mother and father.
  • If you dig deeper into theology, you realise that all religions teach precisely the same thing. So teaching your children kindness and goodness will be a good start. Among other things teach them to love, forgive, be accountable for their actions, be compassionate to all living beings including animals, respect elders and so on.
  • Lastly, always lead by example because your child is watching you. Don’t disregard your partner’s beliefs or condemn it. By doing so, you would spew negativity in the child’s mind and will only showcase a one-sided view to her.

Rathi has made peace with the fact that her child may or may not follow her faith when it comes to the religion she was brought up in. She is positive that as a mother she will find a way to deal with whatever her child chooses, because, her love for her child is greater than her love for any religion.

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