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Confronting all of these basic issues early on can save untold problems in the future. Egg or matzo hunt? Sunday school or Friday-night temple for the kids? "There are no easy answers," says Rabbi Singer, "so you need to prepare to explain contradictions and inconsistencies to your children." Some interfaith couples have their kids practice one religion; others try to integrate both. Occasionally, the choice is to avoid religion altogether. Whatever path you take, it's crucial to arrive at a mutually agreeable decision so that children don't get a mixed message. Take comfort in knowing that your efforts to clarify things may actually benefit them in the long run, says Gayle Peterson, author of Making Healthy Families (askdrgayle.com): "Families who blend different faiths may be at an advantage in having to take a more conscious approach to religion than one-faith families do." This is especially true when handling the holidays. While it's reasonable to join your in-laws for their religious celebrations, it's also a smart idea to start traditions of your own. "This is a necessary step new families must take to establish their own identity," says Peterson. "Maybe that means combining the different holidays in one big celebration that is unique to your family. The important thing is that you learn to share the joyful occasions together."
Sources Of Peace
These references offer additional advice and words of wisdom.
On the Web:
•weddingofficiants.com: A nationwide service that provides names of available clergy of many faiths.
•interfaithfamily.com: An outreach organization and Internet magazine listing support groups, resources, and local affiliations for Jews marrying outside their faith.
•the-insight.com: Buddhism and Shintoism examined in an information-packed site with educational links to more than 25 other religions and spiritual practices.
•uua.org: A Unitarian Universalist Web site with listings of more than 1,000 liberal congregations in North America.
•americanhumanist.org/index.html: Information on the humanist philosophy and local affiliates that practice it.
•cms.psychologytoday.com/rms/prof_search.php: A listing of therapists within a 50-mile radius of your home.
•Love United: Romantic Interfaith Weddings—A Workbook for Couples Who Are Getting Married, by Rev. Bardet Wardell (Dynamic Peace Society, 2003)
•Interfaith Wedding Ceremonies: Samples and Sources, by Joan C. Hawxhurst (Dovetail Publishing, 1997)
•Celebrating Interfaith Marriages: Creating Your Jewish/Christian Ceremony, by Devon A. Lerner (Owl Books, 1999)
*Names have been changed
- wedding ceremonies