Life as an Interfaith Family {Mom Talk}

Today I’m jumping in with Stephanie and talking about something sensitive – sharing faith with my daughter. I would venture to say that for most people, this is pretty straightforward – teaching them what you believe, going to church, doing Sunday school, etc. For my family, it isn’t quite that easy… because Abbie has two religions to learn about. I’m Jewish, and Chris is Catholic. Abbie is both. We’re an Interfaith family.

 Life as an Interfaith Family

This confuses some people. People are generally used to categorizing your family in one religion, and we don’t fit that mold. We never will. I have no plans to convert, and neither does Chris. Abbie will learn about both our religions as she grows and will be free to choose what she believes once she’s old enough. For me, this is normal – it’s actually the way I grew up as well.  My mom is Jewish, but when she married my dad, they chose to bring up my sisters and I with both their traditions.  In addition, my Nana lived with us for a while and had many visits from the Jehovah’s Witnesses (and my cousin now is one).  So I learned a lot of different things.

I learned to light the Hannukah candles in the winter.  I learned to love the movie It’s a Wonderful Life and collect Hallmark ornaments.  I learned about God.  I learned about Jesus.  I asked the four questions at Passover and learned just how precious freedom is.  I learned about Easter and Lent.  I learned about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and why we fast.  I read bible stories with my Nana.  I felt the ink on my grandfather’s arm from Auschwitz.  I learned to love kugel, bagels, lox, cream cheese, and matzoh balls.  I rolled and cut out Christmas cookies. And Abbie? I want her to learn all of that too, and more.

 Lighting the Menorah

And one day, as if it had always been there, I knew what I believed.  I had the freedom of choice, and because of that I have a strong emotional connection to my faith.  I’m not sure I would have had I just grown up doing whatever my parents did.  Obviously, there’s no way I’ll ever know differently, but I want that for Abbie. I want it to be her choice on what she believes.

So we’re an interfaith family.  It’s different, yes, but it works for us.  Abbie’s been to chuch with Chris and my in-laws, and she was baptized about a month after she was born.  We celebrate Jewish traditions and foods with her at home and with friends, and when she’s older, we’ll tell her all about her namesake, my grandfather.  As she grows, she’ll learn why her family is different and special, and that no matter what she chooses when she’s an adult, we’ll love her just the same.

We just want her to be a good, kind person…and isn’t that the goal of it all?  It’s what we all want for our children – for them to grow up in a loving home, to have values and morals.  To be kind and to be there for others, and to be strong, independent people who think for themselves and make their own choices.  She’ll get that from both our religions, so I think she’s a pretty lucky girl.

 If any of you have questions about this, I’m happy to answer.  I realize it’s a little unconventional to be an interfaith family (even though I grew up with it).  I’ll try my best to explain.  We’re not overly religious, but it is a part of our lives.  If you’re curious, a great resource for Interfaith Families is interfaithfamily.com.

{portions of this post were previously published here}

About Jess

About Jess

Jess Beer is a full-time working mom of two girls who writes about motherhood, wellness, easy meals and style.

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8 Responses

  1. Jess, thanks for this great post! I love how you describe your pathway–your daughter is indeed lucky.

    I agree that InterfaithFamily.com is a great resource for interfaith families on how to engage with Judaism.

    For more on raising interfaith children with interfaith education, and celebrating both family religions, your readers might be interested in my book Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family. I also blog on interfaith families doing both, at onbeingboth.com, and tweet on this topic @beingboth.

    1. Thank you! I think she is pretty lucky too. Thanks for sharing this too, and I’ve followed you now too! 🙂

  2. I think this is beautiful and so well thought out. How lucky is Abbie that she will get to know about two sets of faiths and not just one? I think that’s fabulous. I think we should all strive to teach our kids to be open-minded to whatever belief they are drawn to or to even not believe anything at all if they choose. I think the dedication you and Chris both show through example is refreshing. I love this.

    1. Exactly! It’s her life, and I really feel like she should have all the information to make her own choices. We’re going to love her regardless, and the morals and values of the two are pretty similar, so she’ll be good either way.

  3. Thank you for sharing this with us…this is definitely a personal (and unique) post. I can relate a lot to your way of parenting!

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I’m Jess! I’m a working mama of two sweet sisters living in the DC area. This is my space to share inspiration, real stories of working motherhood, recipes, style, and more! I can’t start my day without coffee and always try to show the real side of motherhood – the good and the challenging. I’m so glad you’re here – thanks for following along on my journey!

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