29 October 2013

Introducing Religion to the Kiddos

The interesting thing about being a mixed household is deciding how we introduce religion to our children.

I haven't always had the best relationship with the Catholic church and until the last few years I wasn't sure if I wanted to pass that down to the next generation.  Just after my confirmation I was pretty much rejected all things Catholic.  Interestingly enough, it was the two year process prior to my confirmation that convinced me that I should not be confirming my faith but in our catholic community and in my catholic school that didn't really seem to matter.  I was supposed to be confirmed and so I was going to be confirmed (whether or not I wanted to).  It's the idea of "going through the motions" left a sour taste in my mouth.  No surprisingly, I left the church for a very long time.  I find myself back at the church a few years ago.  Thankfully, under the direction of the Jesuits that seem to dominate the churches in California, I was able to approach religion and Catholicism in a new way, a way that made sense to me.

Fast foward to the late-2000s when I fall in love with and marry a Jewish man.  The question of religion is an obvious one... what religion will the children be?  Traditionally, in the Jewish community religion comes from the mother but at the same time more and more conversions are being accepted in the Jewish community.  Also, most of the Jewish holidays are celebrated in the home where as Catholics church is where we celebrate the major holidays.  Ultimately, we decided that we would celebrate both Jewish and Catholic holidays.  We would expose the children to both religions and ultimately leave it up to them to decide which path they wanted to follow.  Having had my religion forced on me even when I knew I didn't believe what I was being taught, I never wanted to put our kids in that position.  Our goober has been baptized and we are in the process of working that out for our newest wee one.  Aside from that, we're letting the kiddos decide if they want to take it any further.

Having grown up in the church, it is easy for me to think about how I want to introduce the wee ones to Catholicism.  But what about Judaism?  Aside from the Old Testament, I have no clue.  Luckily, since most of the holidays are celebrated in the home, I have learned a LOT in the last few years of heading over to the in-laws but learning by osmosis is not really the best way to try to pass on traditions to the kids.  Enter in the PJ Library.  My MIL signed up the goober for the program.  Every month he gets an age-appropriate book that talks about an upcoming Jewish holiday or prayer or tradition.  Last Easter, I thought it was fitting that the goober wanted to bring his new Passover book to church to entertain him during mass.  It's a great idea.  An amazing way to introduce kids to religion in a fun and simple way.  I'm actually jealous now that there is no Catholic version of the PJ library.  I've looked.  Of course, there are plenty of books for kids about Catholicism including the children's bible that the goober has.  It's just not the same as his excitement when he gets mail and it's a new book from the PJL.  We rip open the envelope and read whatever book he's gotten right away.  Maybe there is something out there that I have missed.  I know it's not a competition but it's just a really cool idea that is well executed.

Right now, I'm just happy that he's into his books.  Right now, I'm just happy that the wee one sleeps through most of mass tucked away in her carrier :) Right now, I'm just happy that in the life we've made for ourselves it's okay if they want to be Catholic or Jewish or whatever feels right for them.

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