Preparing for and rearing children is a difficult feat, but it can prove to be even more challenging in an interfaith household. Each parent may have unique hopes, dreams, and expectations for their children, whether or not they’ve vocalized them to their partner or even to themselves. When these deeply-held cultural expectations surface, you and your partner may be in disagreement. We’ve found that discord over how to raise children is one of the biggest challenges that Jewish-Gentile couples face.
It’s understandably rough terrain to navigate. Some couples avoid the conversation altogether until (or even after) their children are born. Vocalizing your hopes for your future children in an interfaith relationship can seem dangerous — a sure-fire way to evoke problems in a relationship with otherwise little turbulence.
But once children come along, the conversation is inevitable. We’ve found that Jewish-Gentile parents primarily wrestle with two questions. First, “What is our child’s identity?” and second, “Who and how will we teach them to integrate our different heritages and values?”
Interfaith parents face difficult decisions: Should you raise your children in two different religious traditions, choose one faith, or present none at all? How will your decision affect your children’s identity and future? How will your family, friends, or community react? Will you face backlash for your choice?