Quantcast
Home  >  Life

Grandparents vital to religious identity, author says

A study says they can help children make connections with their religious and ethnic heritage.

Hot Topics

By Meredith Moss, Staff Writer Updated 4:47 PM Friday, November 6, 2009

CENTERVILLE — Is your grandchild being raised in an interfaith family?

If so, you may be playing an important role in the development of that child’s religious identity.

A study of young adults who grew up in interfaith families by the Jewish Outreach Institute found that many of them considered their grandparents to be important role models and connectors to their religious and ethnic heritage.

Author Paul Golin will address the topic on Sunday, Nov. 8, as part of the Dayton Jewish Cultural Arts and 13th Annual Book Festival. He’s the associate executive director of the Jewish Outreach Institute in New York and the co-author of “Twenty Things for Grandparents of Interfaith Grandchildren to Do (And Not Do) to Nurture Jewish Identity in their Grandchildren.”

“Intermarriage/inter-partnership doesn’t just affect the two individuals getting married, but the whole family,” said Golin, who said grandparents of any religion will pick up some useful tips.

Q: How does a couple decide about religious upbringing for their kids and what is a grandparent’s role?

A: Each couple has to determine what is right for their own home and children. All couples benefit from increased communication, but especially interfaith couples, who otherwise might make incorrect assumptions about their spouses’ religious expectations. Spouses must communicate what they want, and collaborate to make it happen.

Likewise, grandparents must communicate but also listen to their adult children’s expectations. This can be a fine line for grandparents, because the conversation is not about what’s happening in their own household, so they don’t really get a vote. As with all life choices that adult children make, parents do not have to agree with those choices, but the way they disagree could set the tone of the relationship for years to come. To us, the priority is good family relations.

Grandparents can and should be who they are. As long as they have a relationship with their kids and grandkids, they will become role models.

Q: Can you give suggestions for grandparents?

A: Grandparents should wear their own identity proudly; if your son-in-law or daughter-in-law is helping to raise a child in your religion, celebrate those actions; share stories and mementos from your own background and heritage; throw the best holiday parties ever; keep the holidays focused on celebration, not confrontation; and make sure that your home reflects your heritage.

Q: How should you interact with the other set of grandparents who are a different religion?

A: It’s important for both sets of grandparents to understand that the religion of their grandchildren is not a competition. The religious decisions that their adult children make should not be perceived as a “victory” or “loss” for one side over the other. Nor should those decisions be seen as anyone’s “fault.” Decades ago, intermarriage may have represented rebellion from one’s upbringing, but today, it is simply a product of the free and open American society. For the most part people are basing their religious decisions on what they find of meaning and value for themselves and their children, and not what they feel “guilted” into doing.

With that spirit of understanding in mind, both sets of grandparents should try to be in their children’s and grandchildren’s lives as much as possible, in a loving and supportive way, and participate in each other’s holiday celebrations and life cycle events to their own comfort level. For example, if a new grandson is going to be baptized, it may be a very uncomfortable task for Jewish grandparents to attend such a ritual in a church. They may also feel that attending gives tacit approval to decisions with which they disagree. But they have to weigh their discomfort with the message their not attending will send to their adult child and son- or daughter-in-law, which is, “We will not be in your lives if you proceed along this path.”

At the same time, the “host” set of grandparents should understand that the other set may be experiencing discomfort and do all they can to make them feel more comfortable. For example, if that same family decides the grandson will also have a bris (ritual circumcision), it may be the Christian grandparents who feel uncomfortable about the experience. Holiday celebrations such as Passover or Easter should be about sharing traditions without expecting the other side to “own” those traditions or even necessarily participate in them if they don’t feel comfortable.

In the end, the ultimate commonality is that they all want their grandchildren to grow up to be good, ethical human beings, and that can happen regardless of the religious traditions in which they are or are not raised.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2440 or MMoss@Dayton
DailyNews.com.

How to go

What: “Twenty Things for Grandparents of Interfaith Children to Do,” a chat with author Paul Golin

When: 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8

Where: Boonshoft Center for Jewish Culture and Education, 525 Versailles Drive, Centerville

Cost: Free

Also: The Jewish Book Fair continues through Nov. 18. For information: www. jewishdayton.org

Paul Golin’s presentation will also highlight a new session of the Grandparents Circle program in the Miami Valley. The free five-session educational course is being offered for Jewish grandparents with grandchildren being raised in interfaith families. For more information, www.GrandparentsCircle.org or call (937) 610-1555, ext. 129.

We welcome your comments. Please remember this is a public forum and behave appropriately. Your comments must conform to our visitor's agreement.

The form has errors highlighted in red, please review these entries and try again!



Comments are limited to 500 characters


500 character limit

Incorrect please try again


These words come from scanned books.
Entering them helps digitize old texts.


Get e-mail tips on things to do

ActiveDayton.com's free twice-a-week e-mail newsletter highlights five things you can do in the Miami Valley.

See Sample | Privacy Policy
Quantcast

Local Directory
Beauty Salons & Hair Care  
Creative Hair Salon
20990 Road 140 S
Dayton,OH 45409
Great Clips
2053 Heritage Point DR
Dayton,OH 45409
3 reviews
Hair Studio
37 Park Ave
Dayton,OH 45419
Quantcast

Copyright © Mon Nov 09 09:58:17 EST 2009 Cox Ohio Publishing, Dayton, Ohio, USA. All rights reserved.

By using this site, you accept the terms of our Visitors Agreement and Privacy Policy. You may wish to note our other business policies.