Frequently when couples are dealing with faith or value differences, they are also in conflict over how to parent and raise their kids when they have such different beliefs, different views, or they can’t agree on morals or rules or approaches to life. Unfortunately, I can never give these parents a specific answer about how best to parent their kids in this situation precisely because there are so, so many variables. Every family is different, kids have different needs and personalities, kids in different developmental stages need different things, and every family values different things. For these reasons it would be impossible and unhelpful for me to ever dish out “solutions” for families. One of the main reasons why I can’t give the perfect solution reminds me of this old phrase:
“There is more than one way to skin a cat.”
There are always several ways to do something! The fact that there are many ways to be a strong family and to raise great kids is both the reason why I can’t tell people that there is one best way to resolve their parenting differences, and it’s also the reason I CAN say “there are so many things that you can do in your situation to be a parenting team!”
I think that knowing that there are ALWAYS multiple ways to approach mixed-faith/mixed-value parenting and be great parents and raise great kids is the most helpful thing for couples to know. When you are facing the struggle of trying to figure out how to be a parenting team when it comes to areas where you have different, even polarizing views, it helps to know that there are a lot of paths to creating strong families and raising well-adjusted kids who go on to lead good lives. You actually don’t have to stress so much about the fact that your parenting plan you envisioned might not come to fruition. There are plenty of other equally great parenting plans if you are willing to see that there are other great possible paths.
While I can’t give a one-size-fits all solution, my various training has given me access to many different thoughts on parenting from the therapists and other experts that deal day after day with the long-term results of what happens when kids are not parented well and how that impacts the rest of their lives. The insights gained from these experts, in my opinion, translates very well into useful tips that I think mixed-faith/mixed-value parents can use as a helpful guide to their parenting. These tips can help you to zoom out to see a bigger picture and help you move away from the very natural tendency to get focused on the ways that you and your partner view things and approach things so differently.
It seems to me that zooming out is critical to parenting in a mixed-faith marriage. For the next few weeks, I will take one specific topic each week where you can zoom out as parents and see a bigger picture that might help guide your parenting in a productive way. My goal is to help you see that zooming out in some particular ways will help you to be both a strong parenting team, while at the same time each maintaining your own views and beliefs.
Here is an introduction of the upcoming topics where I will dive deeper into important ways to zoom out:
*What is “good” parenting
*Creating Whole Children
*The kinds of abuse that we rarely talk about: intellectual abuse and spiritual abuse and why they matter
I hope you will join me over the next few weeks as we dive into these topics and practice zooming out to see ways that you can be a great parenting team. These aren’t just ideas from experts that I am spouting about without having actually put them into practice. Just like so many of you, I am in the process of navigating how to raise my kids in a mixed-faith/mixed-values marriage. These things I will be talking about are things that peaked my interest for my own benefit in my own learning and I have thought long and hard about them for a while now about how to personally apply them. I am sharing them not as a parenting expert, because I would never call myself that, but as a fellow traveler in this adventure of finding connection as two different people while also trying to be a great parenting team. As a fellow traveler, these concepts I will share are what have resonated deeply with me personally and impacted my own family for the better and so I want to share them with you! I hope the ideas I share will be useful for you as you find the best solutions that will work for your family!
Stay tuned for next week’s blog where we will get started!