The responsibility to teach your child where they come from is one that many parents start the second the child is out of the womb. And in this day and age of combining religions, ethnicities, sexual preferences, and cultures, it can get very confusing not only for the child but for the parent as well. Luckily, there are resources to help. In most houses, questions about religion and a higher being start around Kindergarten. When the belief is centralized within the family, this is an easier discussion. A parent passes down what was passed down from their parents, and so on. The predominant goal being to teach the child their history and culture without passing on any of the biases we tend to acquire during adolescence and adulthood. When there is no common belief in the household, but rather mutual respect for all sides of the family’s cultures and traditions, the teaching gets a little more complicated. How to pass on culture and tradition without answering the differing opinions of that higher being? Here are some tips:
1. Decide one path and stick to it – religion is a tough concept. Add to that differing opinions and it gets even tougher. This might mean that one parent takes the lead and that’s ok. Just decide before you start talking to the kids about it.
2. Find an establishment where you feel comfortable – Tampa Bay has so many congregations and denominations. Start here.
3. Make holidays and traditions a family affair – Invite grandparents to teach and participate in traditional holidays and events. This will give your child a frame of reference as they grow up as well as connect them to generations that came before them.
4. Encourage questions – Although you’ve decided one path of religion and belief, if they question what they are being taught or your views and ideas, share openly. The greatest thing about faith is the ability to question and learn.
Most of all, enjoy this journey. Education in any form allows a child to grow and form opinions and beliefs. It encourages free thought and self discovery. And although it might be hard to watch your child form a belief that might be different from your own, that is a sign of successful parenting. Allowing your child to be who they are comfortable being rather than doing something just because they think it’s what the parent wants…that is a true test of faith in parenting.