Intermarriage comes with a certain number of challenges – from wedding preparations to holiday celebrations to raising children. We understand this, and its something we try to make sure interfaith couples are aware of from the beginning. Though the challenges are surmountable and many interfaith couples live happily ever after, some situations are harder to anticipate. Namely, divorce. And in the context of intermarriage, divorce presents a whole new set of challenges for an interfaith couple.
If there are children involved, one challenge is how to navigate their religious upbringing once an interfaith couple divorces. A recent story in Chicago highlights why it’s so important for interfaith families to agree on – and continue to maintain – any predetermined religious decisions. In this case, an interfaith couple who had decided to raise Jewish children separated, and the father went ahead and had his daughter baptized. The mother contends these kinds of actions are detrimental to her child. Either way, this is indeed a worst case scenario for everyone involved, particularly the daughter. She is being confused both emotionally and religiously, which is almost certain to have an adverse impact on her psyche.
We recognize that in an intermarriage parents will want to share their heritage, and there is ample room to do that regardless of what religion the child is being raised. We also know that when children grow up, they will make decisions for themselves regarding what religion to follow. Successful interfaith parenting, whether together or divorced, means you have given your children the tools they need to make religious decisions that best suit their way of life. While you can’t manage your children’s future, you can give them happy and healthy religious memories that will help guide them through their life.
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