CANADA AM SEGMENT: The Top 7 Tips For Dual Religion Families
“But What About the Holidays?”
That’s just one of the many questions that are asked when discussing the topic of children being raised in a family of two or more faiths.In today’s diverse culture, it’s not uncommon for families to consist of two parents who have different ideas about religion and the celebration of religious traditions.Easter, Passover, Christmas, Ramadan - all of these benchmarks of faith are important to followers of their respective religions.
But what about the children?
Increasingly, parents in multi-faith families are grappling with how to raise their kids with equal knowledge and understanding of both parents’ faiths.
I recently returned to the Canada AM Parenting Panel to discuss this topic and to provide tips and advice to parents who are in this situation. You can watch the full segment below.
As well, here are some simple ways that parents can help their children understand and equally respect each of their parents’ religions within the same household.
1)Teach Respect - Children will inherit the attitudes that they learn at home. For this reason alone, it’s important to teach children respect for other religions, cultures and ethnicities. This is even more important in a family where there are more than one belief systems. Understanding that one faith is not better or worse than another is key to children’s learning and acceptance of both.
2) Provide Information - Children have questions - that’s how they grow and form their life views. In the case of religions or belief systems, be as available as you can to answer your child’s questions about what you and your partner believe. Have an open mind and remember that the more information that your son or daughter has, the more knowledgeable and informed they will be about each of their parents’ beliefs.
3) Emphasize Commonalities - Despite the differences that we’re often shown related to various faiths, there are surprisingly many similarities in religions as well. Instead of emphasizing the differences, underscoring commonalities will show your children that we’re more alike than not. Most belief systems underscore honesty, integrity, being kind, thinking of others as core values; these transcend belief systems and show a commonality between religions and traditions.
4) We All Take Different Paths - It’s important to teach our children that people come to their conclusions about faith and belief systems through different means. How and why someone believes something is often based on and their perspective on a variety of factors including culture, environment, family traditions, and more. Appreciating that the path taken is an important part of how and what we end up believing is key.
5) Exposure to Both Traditions - The more exposure your child has to both belief systems and traditions, the more knowledgeable a child will be, allowing them to move towards their own beliefs and decisions when they are old enough or feel comfortable enough to do so.
6) Celebrate Diversity - Increasingly schools and educators are showing children that there are many ways to appreciate the many traditions in the world. Parents can support this philosophy at home by celebrating diversity and the message that there are a variety of belief systems that have equal merit
7) Focus on the Destination - What do you want your child to get out of the celebration or tradition? Is it a greater understanding of how to be kind, thoughtful or empathetic? To be a giving person? To care for others? Don’t belabour the path, but the goal of where you want you kids to be and support the efforts to get them there. Practical ways of doing this could be including your children in charity work, such as helping out at a food bank or local shelter.
Canada AM Parenting Panel: Merging Family Religions
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Image courtesy of www.beliefnet.com