Raising Your Daughter in a Multi-Religious Family

Raising Your Daughter in a Multi-Religious Family

I am a born and raised Catholic.  12 years of Catholic school, church every Sunday, and no meat on Fridays.  My family could not have been more traditional.  My husband is Jewish.  He was raised with Hebrew School, a Bar Mitzvah at 13 and Hanakkuh candles.  Needless to say, when we decided we were meant to spend our lives together, there had to be a serious discussion on how we would raise our children in a multi-religious family.  We settled on a compromise – both and then let the kids decide for themselves.

As they matured, our three children each decided they were more comfortable in the Jewish faith, but didn’t want to give up the celebration of Christmas.  Perhaps to honor me their mother, or perhaps they just wanted the presents!  Which makes for a very busy December holiday season with the Eight Nights of Hanakkuh and Christmas Day.

There are many ways Jewish/Christmas interfaith families can deal with the issue of what my husband calls the December Dilemma.  There are two that are more common – separate but equal and blended.

The separate but equal option is to celebrate both holidays as we do.  This strategy works if both partners are comfortable with it although compromise still may be necessary.  A plan also should be in place for extended family members.  Being sensitive to the mingling of Hanukkah lights and Christmas presents under the tree when grandparents come to visit is something spouses should discuss.

The second option is to try and blend Hanukkah and Christmas traditions.  It is not unusual to see Hanukkah-themed Christmas ornaments in stores.   This option also allows for some creative thinking. For example we send New Year’s cards to our family and friends instead of the traditional Christmas cards.  Making up your own family traditions gives the holidays a specialness your children will always remember.

Christmas is everywhere in our society and a major money maker for retailers.  At Target yesterday I wondered through rows and rows of Christmas decorations and wrapping paper while there was one end cap devoted to Hanakkuh supplies.  However, both spouses working together and respecting each others religion not only during the December madness but throughout the year can help instill a love and wonder in their children about their faiths.