As we approach the holiday seasons, I am both blessed to be a child of God and challenged as a parent of 2 children and a husband who have a different religion than I do.
Very early in our marriage, my husband and I discussed how we would raise our children with regard to religion. His fear was that in a society very dominated by Christianity, our children would lose their sense of being Jewish. SO, the pact was made that our children would grow up within the Jewish faith, with the knowledge that mommy and daddy had different religious views, but that we ultimately believed in the same God.
We agreed that when our children were old enough to understand the complexity of religion, they could decide for themselves what religion they wanted to follow.
The kids attend Hebrew school on Sunday mornings, celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas, and participate in our Friday evening "mini" Shabbats at home. I won't say that there haven't been times when my daughter has questioned why she can't be a Christian, although this question usually only comes up around Yom Kippur (a day of atonement and fasting); but overall, our children believe in the one true God and strive to obey HIS laws and commandments.
The one gift that I have been able to provide my children from the Christian perspective is a PERSONAL relationship with God. The Jewish faith most often views God as someone to be obeyed and not necessarily a friend to walk beside you through life. For the last 5 years, I have encouraged our kids to rely on God to give them the strength to face any challenges that are presented to them and to embrace the knowledge that above all else, God loves us and wants the desires of our heart to unfold before us. All He asks in return is to prayerfully seek his guidance.
This personal relationship with God was especially important to my daughter during the early days of her life with us when she was faced with the constant fear of being returned to her biological mother. She prayed daily for God to let her stay with us forever. I often tempered this almost “begging” mentality with the fact that God had already blessed the path to her future and whether that path included remaining with us or not, God would never forsake her.
Along the way, I have taught my children to balance their prayer requests with heartfelt thanksgiving to God for all that He has already given them in their young life. Especially for my daughter, the result has been the development of a truly spiritual young woman who is quick to thank God for everything and truly LOVES sharing that passion with others and learning about their religions along the way.
One of the family rituals that the kids and I enjoy is to ask the question, "Who loves you more than I do?" and our response to one another is always, "No one in the whole wide world, except for God."
I can't say that the naivete of my youth hasn't made this decision hard to live with at times; but, the most important thing I’ve learned about raising children in a dual religion home is the commitment it takes to discuss both religions equally, respectfully, and consistently in order to infuse them with the most important aspect of faith.....believing that there is a God and learning to trust in Him for all of our needs.
The rest is merely semantics.