Monday, January 7, 2013

Ack! Another Religion in the House

Multi-religion households can have an interesting dynamic.

The biggest question that I’ve seen regarding this topic is, “Which religion do we raise our kids in?” It can be pretty intense when one side of the family is Catholic and the other side is Protestant, but throw in a Pagan religion and you’ve got a completely different point of view.

As Wiccans, and most Pagans really, we have the mindset that you should not force your beliefs or religion on anyone.

If you’re not supposed to force your religion on anyone, what do you do when others are forcing theirs on your children?

My husband and I are Wiccan. My ex-husband is not really religious, but his parents are Catholic. My niece and nephew, who live with us, are required to pray a specific prayer at meals by their father. My niece has an interest in Wicca though. It can get pretty interesting, especially at meal times. Confusing enough for you? It is for us sometimes too.

When my four-year-old son is with his father (my ex-husband), my son sometimes goes to Catholic church with his grandparents. Lately, he’s been coming home with questions like, “Where is heaven?” and, “Did God make the baby in your tummy?” His cousins also pray at dinner and he wanted to start as well.

At first, our plan was not to expose him to any religion and let him come to it on his own when he got older. With so many outside influences, we’ve come to this a lot sooner than I’d planned.

Does it irk me that his grandparents take him to church, even though my agreement with their son was not to? Yes. Am I going to ban him from it? No.

I could have taken my ex to court, saying that he’s violating part of our joint custody agreement, but I’m pretty sure that would have been over-the-top (in addition to being costly). What I’ve decided to do instead, is to expose him to multiple religions.

When he asks questions about heaven, I explain that Papa and Grandma believe that heaven is where God lives, but I also explain what Mommy and Step-dad believe. It may be a little young for him to understand everything, but at least he knows that not everyone believes the same thing and that’s ok.

The first ritual we ever did together was for Mabon. He thought it was a lot of fun because it included apples that we got to eat afterward, seeds that we got to plant, and a little dance we did holding hands around the circle.

As for saying grace before dinner, we made a little non-religion-specific poem that he could recite about being thankful. He used it for a while, but eventually he decided that getting down to eat was more important than saying something first.

Instead of looking this situation as bitter lemons to be angrily smashed, I took it as a chance to make lemonade. In the future, I think it will help him be more open-minded with people and encourage him to explore as many options as he can.


  1. I am not a parent and will not pretend to know if there was a "right" answer to this situation, but I like your solution and it sounds like it could work out well. And okay, maybe you meant A to stand for "another religion" but I like the idea of A = Ack! :)

    1. Ha ha thanks. Choosing this option seems the path of least resistance and fighting. We'll see how it works out. I am hoping that it'll also teach tolerance in general. As for the title, I thought just using "Another" was kind of cheating/ordinary so I threw in another "A" word. :)

  2. Hi I just ran across your blog and read this. As a parent, I think you have chosen the best answer. It's difficult to raise kids in the first place, with mixing beliefs can get tricky. I would prob do the same if I were in the same situation. : )

    1. Thank you for taking the time to stop by. :) I appreciate your vote of confidence. It can get really tricky! I usually read about families where both parents, still together, have different beliefs and it being rough; Throwing multiple households in has gotten plain crazy. Ha ha.

  3. Kudos! I think you are made a good decision.