Can I Raise My Child With Two Faith Traditions?

Question: I’m an ardent and faithful Catholic who has been in a relationship with a guy who was raised a Buddhist. While he does not often practice his faith or even believe fully in it’s teachings, he finds that it is an important aspect of his Mongolian heritage. We are getting serious and have talked about marriage. He knows that as a Catholic, I must promise to raise our children in the Catholic faith and he is fine with that. However, he would like our children to know his faith as well. Is it possible to raise our children with both faith traditions, knowing that they will have to ultimately choose in the end? Thanks!

Answer:
It’s not advised to let the child choose when they get older because that makes them choose between “mom” or “dad”–an impossible choice and a no-win situation for family harmony.

A perfect situation would be to pick a religion for the child to be reared in and since you are the practicing one in terms of religion, it sounds like Catholic makes the most sense. Explain to the child that he/she is Catholic and so is mom but dad is Buddhist. You can certainly show the child Dad’s Buddhist practices and celebrate Buddhist holidays and even attend a Buddhist ceremony without any violation of Catholic traditions. But the child has a religion.

All the demographic studies show that when left to choose between their parents’ religions, the child doesn’t choose at all and thus practices no religion.

With all that being said, the child also has the freedom to stop practicing Catholicism when they get older and may very well practice Buddhism by choice. But you can’t expect a child with no knowledge of any faith in depth to be able to make that free choice.

Mike Hayes

Mike Hayes

Mike co-founded BustedHalo.com in 2001. Currently, Mike is the director of campus ministry at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. A frequent speaker on ministering to young adults, Mike is the author of "Googling God: The Religious Landscape of People in Their 20s and 30s" and "Loving Work: A Spiritual Guide to Finding the Work We Love and Bringing Love to the Work We Do."