Religious and Political Differences: How to Raise the Kids?

Reader:  I’m sure you’re busy so I’ll try to make this brief. Girlfriend, mutually in love, happy relationship (not quite 1.5 years), talking about marriage and eventual children. Nearly all points in your Chapter 28 are met beautifully. Important differences: 1) I’m strongly libertarian, she’s stubbornly liberal; 2) I’m agnostic leaning toward Christianity, she’s Jewish and, well, Jews don’t do Christianity (so she says). Neither one of us are severely politically active. We prefer to keep our beliefs to ourselves, so these differences have been minimally problematic in our commitment-free, children-free pre-marriage state. But when it comes time to raise children and lead a household, I intend to inculcate my children with my values. On fundamental issues, I don’t see where I can bend and I don’t care to. However, encouragingly and impressively, she is beginning to come out of that reflexively liberal mindset in which she was raised.

But what to do? Shall we accept that maybe not everyone in our hypothetical future family will be on the same political and spiritual boats? Should we give it more time and see whether we come to see more eye to eye on things?

From your own experience and your nearly limitless opportunities for observation of others’ relationships, how divisive do you think such differences could be in the long run? I’m sure the right course varies greatly from case to case, but what questions would you consider? What are some specific points she and I could examine together to figure it out?

Thanks for any help. Of course, your contributions to a sane perspective on relationships have already been valuable help.

Athol:  Well you also have to understand that you will both change too. When I met Jennifer I was the guest speaker for a Christian retreat weekend. Now I’m an atheist. Jennifer has softened her religious views over time too. For all you know you’re going to going to turn into a Zen Buddhist Republican fifteen years from now. Then what?

If you can agree together to educate your children in knowledge of both faiths – Jew and Christian aren’t that oppositional in terms of content – and then allow them to choose, then that’s the solution. The kids are going to choose what they want to do anyway. Your job as parents is to educate, not to “win”. Nothing like forcing it down their throats to make them rebel against it.

You’re actually going to find the basic behavioral approach to parenting the most effective anyway. “When the mess is cleaned up… then we can go to the park.”  “If you throw a tantrum, you don’t get rewarded for it.”  “Sometimes when you’re good, we’ll randomly reward you.”   That isn’t a religious or political thing. Works for everyone too. Works for cats, dogs and killer whales as well.

You’ll find as the kids get older they will make their own choices. My youngest is mildly interested in church, mostly because she likes being part of a group of nice people. My oldest actually has a highly negative reaction to religious services, believing everyone around her is having a mass psychotic episode and is genuinely made anxious by it all. Which considering it was a Lutheran service was pretty funny. I can’t say we’ve done anything differently for either one of them either.

Hope that helps.

 Oh… seems like she’s a go to more seriously consider marrying if this is the worst issue you can dream up.

Oh yeah… trust me on this one too. By the time they are teens, the only moral / religious / political issue you’ll really care about in relation to your kids is that they don’t start having babies in high school.

 

Comments

  1. My parents compromised: they decided to raise me in my mom’s faith, while my dad was very set in his political views. I adopted neither. In fact, I actually talked my dad over to my side of the two party divide back when I was in high school.

    Perhaps their best laid plans for my upbringing went astray. That said, I know they’re proud of who I’ve become. They trust my moral compass, and know that I’m a good person who prides herself on making sound decisions. They’ve recognized that the house at which I worship isn’t as important as being a moral creature who Does Unto Others. My father and I still debate economic policy all the time. But here’s an important thing:

    My dad didn’t teach me to be Orthodox or Catholic, Liberal or Conservative, Left or Right. He taught me how to look at facts, think critically, and analyze the arguments that others make in order to determine right from wrong. If I can be so bold as to offer my advice (not having any children myself, but having 10+ years of experience as an educator under my belt):

    Don’t teach your children WHAT to think. Teach them HOW to think. Even if they grow up to think differently than you, you can pride yourself on having raised an intelligent individual who isn’t swayed by straw-man arguments. As a parent, caretaker, or educator, I don’t think you can ask for much more than that.

  2. Just stop this stupid my religion – your religion crap.

    All Abrahamic religions have a common root. The Torah. Also called the 5 books of Moses. That is the truth. That is what is common for Jews, Christians and Muslims. This is common for both you and your wife. Do not dwell on differences. Focus on the common stuff, on the core. Read Torah, seek to understand Torah, ask and seek for explanations of Torah.

    The word today used to identify the inner meaning of Torah is Kaballah. Study it Just consider that not all sources are are legit as with everything in this life. Just like other once respectable nouns e.g. God and Love this one has a lot of mud thrown at it by people taking it in vain.

    If you understand the Torah you understand all religions Judaism, Christian, Islam. You will understand the theologies of these religions better then the rabbis, priests and imams of these religions. And you will understand what God is actually all about.

    Now you are just two blind people in Platon’s cave, both of you have never seen the light, just heard stories about the light – stories twisted and distorted trough multiple millenia. Why not open the original book of books in original text and read yourselves? Use your wifes Jewish connections to learn some Hebrew and Aramic, you are in a thousand times more privileged position like a swine before an orange.

    This is another example of the omnipresent stupidity of humaniy. Just like it took multiple millenia for a few select people to be able to escape feminine imperative and obtain as you call it “red pill” paradigm (the most basic paradigm enables correct understanding of Gods image in a human), there are just a few people who trough multiple millenias of talking about God have actually cared to open and study the source code book in witch He reveals itself. Pathetic.

    First learn yourselves then teach your kids. You both are in no position to talk about God to anyone right now. Better keep your mouths shut. You can only produce crusaders or you can produce zionists. That is if your children don’t end up just common liberals. You are unable to produce a God fearing man. Because you are preoccupied with this my religion – his religion bullshit.

    There are no religions. There is God and then there is Humanity and a potential for Gods image in each of humans and in each family. You either care to develop it or not. The Torah explains how. That is all.

    You say “stop this stupid my religion, your religion crap”, but then rant that your religious viewpoint is the only one of value. You essentially argue that the couple in question should abandon all three of their potential viewpoints – Christian, Jewish and Agnostic – and adopt your viewpoint. I’m unconvinced this is helpful to them as a couple.

  3. working through it says:

    Is religion a deal breaker for you? If so, you should proceed cautiously. She already stated that she doesn’t do Christianity. Those feelings will only get stronger after baby is born. In Judaism, the religion of the mother determines the religion of the child.

  4. Trimegistus says:

    I’m in a similar situation: cultural Christian unbeliever husband, cultural Jewish unbeliever wife. The kids are Jewish.

    Here’s why (we had several reasons):
    — by long-standing Jewish tradition, if you come out of a Jewish mother, you’re a Jew;
    — plus Jews are still on the endangered list, so this helps keep the religion alive;
    — my disinterest in religion was greater than my wife’s, so she gets to drag the kids to High Holy Day services.

    I think the third is actually the most important: whichever of you cares the most about the issue should be in charge of the kids’ religious upbringing. In a culturally Christian country like the USA (note to my fellow atheists: I know about the First Amendment, and I also know about 80 percent of Americans identify as some form of Christian) I don’t have to worry that my kids will grow up ignorant of Christian folk customs like Christmas trees and Easter eggs, whereas my wife would have to face raising kids who’d never held a seder unless she took charge of teaching them.

    In sum: go Jew. And if it bothers you a lot, rethink the whole relationship before you have kids.

    As to politics: rely on logic and facts. Defend your positions with reasoned argument and make your wife do the same.

  5. It mostly depends on how important these issues are to you in the grand scheme of things. That’s something that differs dramatically between persons, and really only can be decided by you. If these are core/important/identity type issues, constantly banging your head against a wall on them may not be pleasant for you — but, then again, some people thrive in relationships like that where the dynamic is constantly going at it on these kinds of issues, as this creates and maintains a kind of fundamental tension for them that keeps things interesting. Not all people are like that — I am not. But some are. You may be one of them, or you may not be.

  6. Religion/philosophical views/political parties are much less likely to be deal breakers if neither party is fully invested in those areas as a core part of his identity. I mean, there is Evangelical Christianity or Orthodox Judaism at one end of the spectrum and then at quite a distance to the other side of the spectrum is Judea?c

  7. Something screwy happened with my first comment and I can’t delete. Sorry about that.

    I wanted to mention how vital I think it is to talk extensively about one’s parenting philosophy before marriage. My marriage took a huge hit many years into it due to a huge disagreement about how to approach parent/child interactions. Although behavior mod has worked well for Athol’s family and he is probably correct that it is currently the “default” model, it is by no means the only game in town and can be antithetical to some people’s personal value system. I would say that the OP and his girlfriend should research child development and parenting styles. See what the visceral reaction of each is to various models. Their varying political and religious views might lead them to differing views of child rearing but not necessarily. As I was attempting to say in my first comment, that may depend on how much of their identity is invested in their own religion or political party. As a practical example, schooling/education of the children would be an instructive topic. Sometimes those who identify as liberal want to support the public schools and would not consider another option for their kids, while libertarians may lean away from government interference in their kids’ education. Depending on how entrenched the position, this could be a big problem since the compulsory school years, even with just one child, are very long. But after studying up on child rearing, I would suggest a conversation that starts from the beginning (conception) and goes through every step until the end (child becomes fully independent financially and physically). You don’t want to leave these things to chance or they could really come back to haunt you at the worst possible time.

    .

  8. While it could work, odds aren’t good here and aren’t good for the kids.
    There have been studies done on marriage statistics. Intermarriages have very high divorce rates.
    I’m friends with a bunch of people who are the children from the intermarriages. Whether or not the parents stuck together, it is hard on the kids. Also, in this case, your kids will technically be members of both religions. As much as you want to say, “well, the two religions started off in one place,” there are some very conflicting ideologies there.
    If neither you nor your lady can bend on fundamental issues, this doesn’t look good.
    A bird may fall in love with a fish – but where would they live?

  9. I’m going to disagree with Athol on this one. This would be a deal breaker for me. I’m not religious or very political so I could care less about those issues in general but for me this is a structural issue that can haunt your relationship and at the worst times can be dredged up to use as ammo for a good fight (I don’t care how great your LTR is, it WILL happen). I agree with Sparrow, it is not good long term. There will be family pressures from both sides and there are there is the problem of not having a similar upbringing. I think that’s why my wife and get along so well (well since we got past my Nice Guy stuff a couple of years ago) is that we could have been raised right next to each other. We have very similar backgrounds, religious views and political vies. We come from common ancestor (German, but many generations removed). Kids look like their parents, etc, etc… At one time I was like the spice is the variety of life, but if you really want a LTR to work out , I’m thinking you really wan to marry the girl next door…

  10. enlightened1 says:

    There’s a decent book that I read called “Happily Intermarried.” It explores marriage between Christians and Jews. It was helpful for me. Regardless of whether you marry someone of a different faith or “the girl next door” you should anticipate that “maybe not everyone in your hypothetical future family will be on the same political and spiritual boats?” I wouldn’t use the word “maybe, ” I’d use the words “most certainly”. That’s where you as a couple guard your relationship from outsiders. If you love her right now, and you love her in her jewish liberalness and she loves you in your libertarian semi-christianess then to retain the love and respect your frame must be a sense of wonder and joy of the person you have chosen and the essence of who they are. Essentially the only difference between Christians and Jews is where (or if) you think you’re going to go somewhere when you die and how you are going to get there. And, btw kids love having Hanukkah and Christmas.

  11. You say you are strongly Libertarian. So am I. My understanding over the last 30+ years is that the primary tenet of Libertarians is Liberty, that people should have the maximum amount of freedom possible with the only limit that they are not directly harming other people. My understanding of the idea behind that, which I believe, is that each one of us is in the best position to determine what is best for us such as entering contracts, buying services (without regard to licenses , etc.), what to ingest into our bodies, etc, rather than having a politician or a bureaucrat decided what is best for us.
    We should be free to make up our own minds (theoretically it is the ultimate version of crowd-sourcing, which I am also a big fan of).
    So my alarm bells went of when you wrote “when it comes time to raise children and lead a household, I intend to inculcate my children with my values”. [Good luck with that by the way — my parents were both very active in the Democratic Party (though it was much more open-minded back then) and my children tend towards Liberalism]. It seems to me you would want to raise your children to think for themselves. Hopefully that means they will turn out to believe in Free Speech, Free Markets, and Free Minds, but if not I’m sure you will both love them just as much anyway.
    As far as religion, the ideal corollary would seem to be Unitarianism, the one religion that accepts all other religions (though I don’t attend any longer because as welcoming as accepting as Unitarians are of diversity of faith, that don’t seem to have the same attitude to diversity of political beliefs).

  12. The political differences will sink you. Simply put, political beliefs are about when and against whom it is okay to use violence to impose obedience. You being libertarian have a fundamentally different and irreconciliable set of beliefs compared to your wife. As such, the only way you can make your relationship sort of work is to avoid talking about this critical issue. You are guaranteeing that your relationship will be based on mutual ignorance or hatred of the other’s principles.

    Don’t believe.me? Ask your wife “do you believe I should.be put in a cage for carrying around certain vegetation?” And then square that with her stated beliefs.

  13. Athol I have no religious viewpoint. I have no faith and no beliefs. I don’t need to believe because I see. Religion is for the blind. Those who see God read Torah. You need to see to read Torah or you will misinterpret it as mere history and fairy tales. If you don’t see then read Zohar. That book will help you to start seeing so that you can read Torah.

    The basis of all Abrahamic religion is Torah. But Torah it self is not religion. Religions are human social/spiritual matrixes imposed on masses who are too lazy to read the source. If you have a religion a.k.a.
    faith, if you are a believer then you are blind. If you were not blind you would not need to believe, because you would see. Religions are retold, twisted and edited stories for the blind. Different people have different types of blindnesses and therefore the different religions.

    By taking your red pill paradigm you and your readers have the capacity to see the basic most approximate image of God. This most basic image reveals itself in a properly constructed family with an initiating and inspired father and a returning inspiring mother, thus they flow into each other. The next level is to realize that there are inner masculine and feminine forces within you as individual and to construct your inner self the same way as your family. A dominating but benevolent male and a submissive grateful female side. This is basic spirituality. If you do this you can reconstruct the image of God in you and thus see him to the extent of your similarity to him

    Look even trough you are atheist you already have a better understanding about the true meaning of the Adams and Eves original sin then any blue pill religious believer. You understand that the sin was Adam listening to Eve that is giving the feminine side an authority over the whole not mere disobedience to God as a common Christian would put it. But there is much more to it and you could widen your understanding quite a bit.

    Therefore I offer this information to you and your readers. You have taken the first step and I show you direction to the next step to those who will be willing to take it. If you are not willing then you can criticize my authoritative writing style all you want it wont give you anything and wont take anything from me either. I wont play any silly American PC games pretending that all religions and moronic beliefs and half-truths have equal rights to co-exist under the sun. I don’t have to play this theater. I don’t care for any-ones feeeeelings.

  14. RedPillAwakening says:

    My wife and I are both very much on the same wavelength wrt both politics and religion, and I’m convinced that we would not work otherwise. I am very strongly libertarian and have no patience at all for those who believe it is ok to use politics in an attempt to force their beliefs, lifestyles and high taxes on others at the point of a gun. Thankfully she feels exactly the same. This leaves us free to fight about other things, mainly of a personal financial nature.

  15. When I was dating my wife she was way liberal and I was conservative. 20yrs later I am about the same and now my wife is more conservative than I am. This is not atypical. Demographics show single women are overwhelmingly liberal (wanting big gov to protect and guide their decisions), married women who have found their captain are more conservative and don’t need the big brother gov. Finally married women with children are a standard demographic of the conservatives (they want the gov out of their family’s lives and are more concerned with their children being stuck with record federal spending/debt). So Athol is totally correct here, people change over time. If you disqualify every liberal single gal you are decreasing the pool of available ladies for no reason.

  16. Both of you need to determine what are dealbreakers – and then be clear about what they are.

    I agree with the above who brought up parenting – if you can’t agree on those, DON’T produce children. Really.

    Our goal was to raise our kids to maturity. That got us grief from family, less from friends, but we did our job. They are grown and moved out now, and have made some very different choices than we would, but those are their choices, their lives. We’re off-watch now.

    If you can’t find that kind of unity now, you are better off not putting out to sea.

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