Posted: 16 December 2010 at 11:34pm | IP Logged
The beautiful thing about children is that unlike us adults their thought process and imagination is not limited. We as adults get stuck in a rut, in our own ways. Consequently we lose a part of our creativity and innocence, the ability to see things from different viewpoints, the faith to believe that everything is possible, the possibility that someway somehow everything makes sense and falls in place.
See Hindu, Muslim, Christian, white, black, Asian, Hispanic, Indian, Pakistani, American - none of these concepts hold any value to children. They embrace every new thing with wondrous delight. Faith and God are not deep philosophical or metaphysical concepts for children. All they do is believe, not just in higher powers - but that the world is much more magical than its. They can explain away everything with wondrous simplicity.
There is nothing absurd, ridiculous or confusing about Santa not getting gifts this year due to recession. In fact they might just break their piggy bank and leave some money for Santa - to help Santa out of the recession. Its that plain and simple.
Its more of a case of us adults being so utterly confused by being so rigidly set in our ways. We refuse to see that people can think and believe differently. We refuse to accept the fact that different practices and customs can make total sense. We create clashes and conflicts even when they should not exist. I think multicultural or mixed religion households will have a lot to learn from their kids, rather than the other way around. A kid will use their creative imagination to come up with a reason why being a Hindu-Muslim makes perfect sense, something that some adults may never rationalize in their lifetimes.
Of course I'm not naive. The world is not magical and things don't magically fall in place. But you know what the kids are all right. It can be confusing and frustrating belonging to two worlds and not knowing where you fit in. The teenage years where the questioning, the self searching and the rebellion sets in will be a challenge to both children and parents. Some families do end up very messed up. But many actually turn out to be fine and happy. We may think its messed up and confusing for them to go to church every Sunday and fast for Ramadan, but in their world it all makes sense and they might have figured it out.
I've met families where I go "Thats messed up"
But they say "It may not make sense to you, but for us, it makes total sense"
And is that not what faith is? We believe what we believe, because thats what makes sense to us, thats what appeals to our heart and soul. We don't beleive in our God or religion because it makes sense to everyone else. Thats exactly what an atheist Jew might do, believe in what makes sense to their heart and soul.
In the end all religions may be different on the surface, with different names, different practices, different histories - but at the core they serve the same purpose - give humans a sense of faith and belief. Provide guidance and direction in good times, and provide support system in bad times. Just different routes and means of transport, to get to the same destination. You could walk, bike or drive a car. You could go by the highway or by the scenic route or by the dirt road. You could also mix and match.
Also people who do end up marrying outside the religion have reached are either capable of compromising, or willing to convert. They have reached a point where one or both of them gives marriage and family a higher priority over faith. The child will either grow up with a primary faith, or the parents will eventually come to a compromise and find a middle path to raise their children.
Of course some marriages do fail and there is too much clash over religion and how kids should be raised. However, the risk of these failures exists even within the same religion/culture etc. Parents can have strong disagreements on how strict or lenient to be with kids, what ground rules and expectations to set on their kids, how religious or irreligious the kids should be, whether to be conservative or liberal in the upbringing - when it comes to kids religion is just one aspect of disagreement - there are several other disagreement factors and recipes for disaster - that screw everyone up. Hopefully, parents know that relationships are a compromise and you keep working things out.