I have a friend – let’s call her “B”- who’s going through a really challenging time with her family. Because of her decision to marry outside of and discontinue practicing the religion in which she was raised, her relationship with her family has been strained at best. During a recent holiday B, not wanting her daughter to miss out on a chance to spend some time with her cousins, asked her mother if it was okay to drop her daughter off while the family was gathered (a gathering to which B was specifically not invited) – B would return later after the rest of the family had left.
B’s mother said no.
This “no” served (perhaps) as a means of punishment that resulted from a mixture of stubbornness, disappointment, anger and fear; anger at having no control of a situation, fear of being judged herself by other family members, fear of siblings leaving with her other grandchildren, fear of conflict.
As an adult we are (mostly) prepared to deal with the consequences of the choices we make. When our choices impact our children negatively, however, it hurts in a much deeper way that leaves us feeling unsettled.
If you could meet B, it wouldn’t take you long to figure out that she is a good person through and through. I believe “The Great One” (No, not Wayne Gretzky, but rather any named – or unnamed – higher power in which you might believe.) wouldn’t judge B nearly as harshly as her family has (if at all).
I realize religion is often deeply embedded in one’s culture; that as much as religion binds people of the same faith together, it is also a source of divisiveness and animosity. The history books prove this. Or you could just ask B.
I’m writing about this because, as a parent, I cannot fathom alienating my children for any choice as long as that choice doesn’t lead to self-harm or harm of others. My husband, G, and I are fortunate – the fact that I was raised Christian and my husband was raised Jewish has been a non-issue for our families. While we don’t attend church or temple, we are teaching our children about the traditions of both families. More importantly, though, I hope we are teaching our children to be good people; to be open-minded and have conviction, common sense, integrity, a positive attitude and a sense of humor.
To me, the faith you practice (or don’t practice) is insignificant compared to the life you practice.
The Great One (in this case, Wayne Gretzky) said, “You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.” I hope B’s family comes around, because they keep missing shots.
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog.