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Grandparenting in Interfaith Families

Are you a Jewish grandparent navigating your relationship with your child, their partner, and your grandchild? Are you the adult, sandwiched between your parent and your young child, respecting the one who raised you and hoping they will respect your choices in raising your own family?

I believe step one should be to have a conversation. The grandparent should sit down with their adult child and discuss how each sees the other’s role. Share thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams. Respect each other. Recognize that this can be easier said than done!

But then what? Grandparents: What do you do (have you done) that has worked really well? What didn’t work so well that you would do differently next time? Children, what have your parents done that worked (or didn’t)? What do you wish they would do?

I have five ideas to get us started.

  1. Celebrate a Jewish holiday with the other grandparents. For example, invite them to the Passover seder (along with your child’s family). Include them in your religious/cultural celebrations. Help them better understand Judaism and its rich traditions.
  2. Ask your child if they need support, resources or guidance from you. Offer to assist them in the choices that they make. Being active in the Jewish community can be expensive; if you are in a position to help, offer to pay for religious school or summer camp (if your assistance would be appreciated).
  3. Offer to babysit, but make sure you’re transparent with your plans. Tell your child that you’d like to invite your grandchildren over for dinner on Friday night, light Shabbat candles, say the blessings, and enjoy a wonderful meal together. Attain quality time with your grandchildren and give their parents the night off for their own quality time together!
  4. Be visible in your grandchild’s life. Visit often if you can. Use modern technology like Skype to see and talk to your family if they live far away (or even if they are around the corner).
  5. Keep the dialogue open.

What would you add to this list?

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Rebecca Goodman