As we enter the height of the busy holiday season families everywhere make plans to celebrate together. While many families find the biggest obstacle is juggling how to fairly spend time with more than one side of the family, many families face a much more complex problem — one of not just blended families but blended faiths.
The holiday season means different things to different people, especially where religion is concerned. When families of different faiths come together, for example, Christian and Jewish, both sides want and deserve to have their beliefs and holiday traditions honored and respected.
Perhaps the easiest part of blending family faiths is holidays usually don’t coincide on the same dates so couples rarely have to fight about whose house to have Christmas and whose house to have Hanukkah. Unfortunately, the rest of the issue is a bit more complicated.
The most important part of blending faiths during the holidays is to have respect for each other’s belief systems and customs. We may not initially understand different customs and traditions but by respecting them, we allow ourselves to be open to them and to learn more about them.
To help your children understand new ideas and customs, have open discussions with them. Allow them to ask questions and give them honest answers. By teaching them to understand and respect different faiths, you help them grow into adults that approach life with compassion and respect for all of their fellow human beings.
A great way to help kids understand religious holidays they didn’t grow up in is to watch holiday movies and cartoons with them. YouTube is a perfect resource for this; there are plenty of videos available to explain different religious, like Hanukkah and Islam, in kid-friendly, easy-to-understand formats that can be extremely helpful. Children’s books are also a goldmine when it comes to teaching. Some great ones are The Story of Hanukkah, available here and Together For Kwanzaa, also available on Amazon.
Children are like sponges and are easily adaptable to learning new things. They do, however, take their cues from adults. It is important to set an example for them by accepting and being open to new holidays and new customs. Often times we discover our different religions and customs share similar core beliefs, reminding us religions should never separate us as human beings.
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