You and your partner may have different religious backgrounds, but this should not negatively affect your child.
Can this confuse your child?
Having parents who do not share the same religious beliefs can be confusing for a child. Though as co-parents your cultural backgrounds may be different, this doesn’t have to be confusing for your child. Confusion comes from parents being in competition over which religion is best suited for raising a child.
Integrating values into your child is an important part of growth. However, when one parent becomes strict about their values or beliefs it can cause your child to feel like they have to choose between their two parents. Conflict over religious beliefs can also cause your child to lack the confidence they need to navigate the world during developmental teenage years.
How can conflict be avoided?
This type of conflict between parents can become an emotional roller coaster. There are proper ways to pass your values and beliefs onto your children without offending your partner.
- Rather than focusing on what can come from not following your religion (punishment or negative), focus on the reason you chose to follow the religion. If done incorrectly, your child will associate your religion with fear.
- Try to find similarities among your religions. Do not tarnish the relationship you have with your child or your partner over your religion. Hold strong in what you believe, but this belief should not be aggressively imposed on others.
- Remember, you and your partner do not have to convert to remain a family. Religions can be blended. If conversion is forced on your partner, your child may notice and experience a lack of balance in the household.
- Celebrate both religious holidays. This does not have to become expensive. However, you should show that you are willing to acknowledge what is important to your partner.
When is the best time to start talking to your child about religion?
More often than not, kids will ask. They will ask, “why do you do this” or “what does this mean”? Let your child initiate the conversation. This means they are ready. Do not overwhelm them with facts, but explain the basis of your religion. If your child asks why his or her parents do things differently, explain that differences are natural and that you accept each other the way you are.