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Conversation Starters: How to Raise Future Kids Religiously

If you and your partner from another faith are thinking about having kids, deciding how to raise them religiously, culturally, and/or spiritually may be difficult. This can actually be one of the hardest conversations for any couple to have, whether or not both partners share similar religious/cultural backgrounds. Everyone grows up in their own, separate environment and each person may value different things; often, people want to pass on their beliefs to their children. These differences, and the ability to talk about them, can be especially challenging for some interfaith couples. In order to communicate about this difficult topic, here are some conversation starters to get things going.

This is just the beginning of a discussion, and each couple will surely continue to figure out how they want to parent even after their children are born. Also, your feelings on these issues may evolve over time. These conversations are not about “making promises” to your partner, but rather about learning to have productive talks and listening to and respecting one another as you grow and change. 

And remember that as an interfaith couple, you are not alone. We at 18Doors are here to help you have these conversations and to discuss challenges you may face. Our Couples and Conversation workshop (for seriously dating, engaged and newly married interfaith couples) offers a safe environment to work on creating your lives together. You can see our upcoming event lineup here. We also have rabbis throughout the country who would be happy to talk to you about navigating your interfaith relationship. Fill out a request here to get in touch.

If you’re engaged or recently married, check out Our Year of Firsts—a new program designed to help you explore the deeper meaning behind Jewish holidays, discuss your interfaith relationship, create new traditions together and meet other interfaith couples.

5 Conversation Starters About Future Kids

How you raise your child(ren) religiously or spiritually is a decision that you and your partner will make together, and it is a decision that may well evolve over time. But imagine for a moment that how your child(ren) will be raised religiously was totally up to you.

1. What is most important to you when raising children? How would you choose to raise your child(ren) religiously/culturally/spiritually?

Before discussing how you want to raise children, it’s a good idea to think about and share your own experiences growing up.

2. What are some positive religious/cultural memories that you have from growing up? What about negative religious/cultural memories? Are the majority of your memories (positive or negative) more based on experiences in your home; in a house of worship (synagogue, church, mosque, etc.); youth group or somewhere else?

Think about your own religious/cultural beliefs and share with each other.

3. What from your own religious/cultural background is important for you to pass on to any children you may have? What from your partner’s religious/cultural background do you hope to pass on?

It’s difficult for many couples, whether they come from the same religious background or different ones, to talk about God. But despite the difficulty, it’s an important conversation to have.

4. Do you believe in God or a higher power? If not, do you see yourself as a spiritual person—and if so, what does that mean to you? Is it important to you that your child(ren) believe in God or some sort of higher power? If so, how do you hope to pass this on to your child(ren)?

5. If you are planning to raise your child(ren) with only one religion, how do you feel about celebrating the other partner’s religious holidays in your home? What about at relatives’ homes?

Rabbi Robyn Frisch

Rabbi Robyn Frisch is the director of the 18Doors Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship. She lives in Philadelphia with her family.