New here, with a very unique situation - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
#1 of 15 Old 09-14-2010, 11:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
mizliz72's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 50
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Hello all! My name's Liz and I'm new here. I am a step-mom but with what I think is a very unique situation, or combined situations. I live with my partner of over 5 years and his daughter who will soon be 7. He also has a 17 year old son and a 13 year old daughter who live with their mother, his ex-wife. One thing that I find separates me from most step-mothers on other boards I've posted on, and probably this one too, is that my SD's (the youngest) mother passed away from complications of Leukemia when SD was 13 months old. She and SO lived with his parents and I came on the scene only a few months later. When SD was a little over 3 years old, the three of us moved into our first apartment together. I have basically been her mom, even though I never planned, or really wanted, to have children. To be honest, I have to admit I often don't really think of SO's other kids as my step-kids, and part of that may be because they do not spend a lot of time here at our house (though we do see them a lot and SO spends a lot of time driving them to and fro and watching them at their house), SO and I are not legally married, and my relationship with their half-sister is so different being that I am her mom day in and day out.

Another thing that I feel makes my situation so unique is religion. SO was raised Catholic in a Catholic family but he is pretty agnostic now. I am Pagan. SD's birth mother was raised Christian but converted to Judaism as an adult. Because she had planned to raise her Jewish (though she also planned to make sure she knew about other religions, and know that she would support SD should she choose a different path as she herself had done), SO decided to follow through with that. This has been difficult for me, and I will not pretend that it is always rational or that it is not selfish of me to have the feelings I have. If I had a child of my own, I would certainly want to raise him/her with Pagan holidays and rituals, so I suppose we would have two children being raised two different ways. Thing is, we do not have a Jewish home life. SD goes to a Jewish day school (her maternal grandparents pay since SO and I are pretty broke most days), and when she is at her maternal grandmother's on Friday night, even though she is a Christian, she has learned a lot about Judaism and will have Shabbat - light the candles, say the prayers, etc. She also joined a local Temple so that she and SD have a place to go for Saturday services if she wants and attend special holiday events/services. SO and I have occasionally done Shabbat here, but he's pretty lax about most religious things, leaving it to everyone else (yes, there's some amount of annoyance you sense there), and frankly, if he's not going to do it, I'm not either since it's not my religion. While he has repeatedly said that her mother wanted her to be open to all religions and he has nothing against Paganism and has encouraged me to share my rituals and holidays with her, for the most part I don't know if it can really be done, at least at this age, when she is being taught so much about one religion who's teachings are often at odds with what I believe personally and who's teachings tell followers that my chosen faith is, well, wrong. Unfortunately, I find I have sort of fallen away from nurturing my own faith, yet participate in all the Jewish holidays as well as Christmas. I end up feeling resentful.

Anyway, I'm sorry for the rambling. So I have the "normal" challenges that come with step-parenting - the ex-wife sometimes even though we get along pretty well, the challenges of parenting a child you did not help create and who did not come from you, the challenges of step children with special needs (SO's son is physically and somewhat mentally disabled and his older daughter has ADHD and ODD), combined with the additional challenges of an inter-faith family, and being the full-time mother to a child who's birth mother died (not to mention being a partner to a man who had to bury a wife and mother to his child). And believe me, those last two have brought about some very, very unpleasant emotions and hardships for me. So thanks for reading (unless you are asleep by now!), and I hope to find, and maybe give, some help here.
mizliz72 is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
#2 of 15 Old 09-15-2010, 01:20 PM
 
VocalMinority's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: surrounded by testosterone
Posts: 1,303
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8 Post(s)
Welcome!

You do have an interesting situation.

There are definitely other step-moms here who, for all intents and purposes, are their step-kids' mothers. (I am not one. Although my 11-year-old step-son lives with us and his mother lives across the country - so he spends a lot more time with me than with her - that has only been the case since he was 8 and he is very clear who his "Mom" is.) However, I can't remember anyone else mentioning that their step-child's mother is deceased. I'm sure that casts a very different glow on the relationship!

On the one hand, you don't have the worries a typical custodial step-mom has: conflict from a resentful ex-wife and/or resentment from a child who may feel you "stole" her father from her mother, or that you're trying to replace a mother who is still in this world.

On the other hand, most of us whose husbands are divorced derive some sense of clarity and security from knowing our life partner made a conscious choice not to be with his previous wife anymore and to be with us instead (in whatever order and time-frame those decisions happened...). Your partner's continued respect for his deceased wife's wishes must encourage you, by showcasing his capacity for loyalty and enduring love. At the same time, you must wonder occasionally: "What if she were still here?" And, of course, there's a natural human tendency to idealize the dead, whereas you can't idealize someone in the same way, when you live with them day in and day out.

I understand what you said about not feeling like your older step-kids are really your step-kids. My husband has an older son, who was in college when we got married. I think he's wonderful, but he feels like more of a "family friend" to me, compared to his younger brother, for whom I wash laundry, cook meals, drive him to sports practice and volunteer at his school! Also, I get along well with the older son's mom and I feel squeamish emphasizing the word "mother", in my relationship to him, because I recognize that I did none of the mothering of him, only she did.

As for your religious situation... and I thought ours was complicated! My husband and I are both Catholic and raise all of our children in our faith. But my husband's ex-wife was raised Jewish, by parents who adopted her at birth. She became estranged from them, in her teens and early adulthood. During that time, she reconnected with her (Christian) birth mother and married my husband. She doesn't practice any religion and generally seems content to observe the secular parts of whichever holidays people around her celebrate. She agreed to let my husband raise their son Catholic and did not expose him to anything Jewish until their divorce. But since then, her birth mother passed away and she made up with her adoptive family and neverendingly flip-flops about whether she's Christian or Jewish, in a manner that's maddeningly superficial and unmistakeably aimed at perpetuating the conflict with my husband. When she had custody, suddenly my step-son became "Jewish" and people "weren't allowed" to talk to him about Jesus anymore. Not that she took him to Temple or taught him anything about Judaism! She just wanted to take away that bond of religion he had with my husband. Now that he has custody, every other year she sends a photo of a little Christmas tree or gingerbread house in her apartment and sends my step-son an "Easter basket" instead of a "Purim gift basket", to bolster her argument for having him on Christmas Day. But when she has had him then, they don't celebrate Christmas, but Chanukah with her parents, as usual. It's so clearly a ploy to make sure my step-son misses Midnight Mass and the big kid-fest on Christmas morning, at our house. Then again... religion's such a tricky, subjective thing that there's always a little, nagging voice in the back of our heads, saying, "What if, this year, she really is going back to Christianity? After all, she is dating another Catholic guy, now. Is it right to deny her Christmas parenting time?...." It's a mess.

In short, I understand your frustration. It's a nice gesture to raise your step-daughter according to her late mother's wishes. But if neither your partner's home nor his mother's are Jewish homes, what really is the point? How can she possibly be learning that religion has any meaning deeper than holiday traditions? I respect your restraint in teaching her about your own beliefs, when she's already in a confusing environment. Perhaps you could research the ways in which Jewish and Christian holidays wound up being scheduled around older pagan celebrations - and how some of the traditions overlap - and share that with her, when she's older? You might be able to show her the history and influence of your own beliefs, without negating what she is taught about her mother's and grandmother's. After all, the fact that we're not certain when Jesus' birthday was and that it was convenient for early Christians to celebrate it around the time of Saturnalia - and the fact that we've co-opted certain aspects of celebrating nature into Christian traditions (bringing an evergreen inside, to decorate during winter...) doesn't mean there's no value in celebrating Jesus' birth and making it a decorative, festive occasion. Sorry, I'm less familiar with how such things correlate with Judaism. But it's interesting to study the fact that "paganism" is much more than just a new-age thing that's sprung up among young people with alternative lifestyles.

When I first joined, I had an interesting exchange about dual-religion families with another member, who's Jewish, but her husband is Eastern Orthodox (I think?). If you're interested, I think you can click on my name and look up my earliest posts.

I hope you enjoy Mothering!

One woman in a house full of men:  my soul mate:    or... twin sons:(HS seniors) ... step-son:  (a sophomore) ... our little man:   (a first grader) ... and there is another female in the house, after all:  our
VocalMinority is offline  
#3 of 15 Old 09-15-2010, 01:36 PM
 
PoetryLover's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 2,728
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
I just wanted to say welcome! I enjoyed reading your post and look forward to seeing you around Mothering~
PoetryLover is offline  
#4 of 15 Old 09-15-2010, 03:39 PM
 
Smithie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 4,421
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
In short, I understand your frustration.

So do I.

It's a nice gesture to raise your step-daughter according to her late mother's wishes.

No, it's a nice gesture to send your grandma a thank-you note. Raising the child of a dead Jewish woman so that she she grows up to feel at home in Judaism is more in the nature of a moral imperative. I think the OP realizes that.

But if neither your partner's home nor his mother's are Jewish homes, what really is the point?

The point is for the child to be able to receive Jewish tradition and Jewish wisdom so that she will be equipped to create a Jewish home of her own one day. Death deprived her of that experience in own childhood, but she can still have it when she's a wife and mother. Or not. The point is to make it possible for her to live an observant Jewish life if that's what she wants, to move in the Jewish community without feeling isolated or ignorant, and to be able to make a Jewish marriage if thats where her heart leads her.

How can she possibly be learning that religion has any meaning deeper than holiday traditions?

If she's going to a Jewish day school, I suspect that this is being taken care of. She should also be going to weekly Religious School if her temple offers it, and beginning Hebrew study in a couple of years to prepare for her bat mitzvah.

I respect your restraint in teaching her about your own beliefs, when she's already in a confusing environment. Perhaps you could research the ways in which Jewish and Christian holidays wound up being scheduled around older pagan celebrations - and how some of the traditions overlap - and share that with her, when she's older? You might be able to show her the history and influence of your own beliefs, without negating what she is taught about her mother's and grandmother's.

All excellent ideas, and stuff I talk about with my kids all the time - and I don't think it need to wait until she's older. My little ones have an atheist dad and a largely Christian/agnostic/atheist extended family. I am the only adult Jew in their family with whom they have daily contact. If I imagine my own death, I can totally see my Christian MIL or even my atheist mother taking the kids to religious school and paying their day school tuition and organizing their b'nei mitzvahs - their love and respect for me would demand that. DSD's grandma may be in a similar position. But I ALSO envision that this effort would not be a solo act by my non-Jewish relatives. My religious community, headed up by the rabbi and education director, would insert themselves into the situation and do everything they could to make things less painful and more joyous. I'm sorry that that support did not materialize for you guys.

OP, what I'm getting from your post is that there's too LITTLE diversity of religious expression in your house, not too much! Of course you'd be resentful if your own path is the only one that's not being respected. If I were you, I'd try two things - getting more involved in your own faith, and getting more involved in your daughter's (according to Jewish tradition, she IS your daughter, period full stop end of story, because you have had the raising of her in the maternal role). For your daughter, make sure you're the one in the pew with her at temple on the big holidays. Talk to her rabbi and explain your situation and ask him to hook you up with another (preferably also interfaith) family who would be willing to invite you to their seder this spring. Your daughter is entitled to those experiences. BUT AT THE SAME TIME, don't feel that you need to refrain from celebrating your own holidays in your own home. Over 50% of Jewish marriages these days are interfaith. She'll be FAR from the only Jewish kid lighting a Yule log.

In short, to heck with restraint. Try celebrating more and with more gusto in ALL your families' traditions, is my advice to you. And welcome to MDC!
Smithie is offline  
#5 of 15 Old 09-15-2010, 08:24 PM
 
VocalMinority's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: surrounded by testosterone
Posts: 1,303
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8 Post(s)
I always love to hear Smithie's perspective - and I generally learn something.

...but I thought your MIL (or was it grandmother-in-law) was Orthodox?

One woman in a house full of men:  my soul mate:    or... twin sons:(HS seniors) ... step-son:  (a sophomore) ... our little man:   (a first grader) ... and there is another female in the house, after all:  our
VocalMinority is offline  
#6 of 15 Old 09-16-2010, 03:46 PM
 
Smithie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 4,421
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
I'm glad you love to hear my perspective, because I obviously love to dish it out.

Total drift: It's my maternal grandmother-in-law who was properly and officially Russian Orthodox. She married a Catholic man who insisted that they attend a Catholic church, but my MIL managed to get herself married in the Russian Orthodox church after her Catholic parish was unable/unwilling to handle the pre cana situation for a betrothed who was serving in Vietnam and only had a week after coming home to get himself married before he was sent to a base across the country. If pushed to label my MIL, I'd call her, um, Cafeteria Catholidox. She's the one who hands out the protective icons, but it's her mother she inherited them from. I think she believes in Jesus and I know she likes the ritual forms of worship, but I have not noticed that she has any deep and abiding love for the Pope and she 110% pro-choice.

And to the OP: and we all do Christmas together! Nobody gets confused or stops being Jewish! If a pagan marries into the family, I really think we could toss in Solstice and have the whole season just get better... I'm not a Pollyanna, I swear. It's just that I know this stuff can work if all adult parties involved have good intentions.
Smithie is offline  
#7 of 15 Old 09-16-2010, 04:12 PM
 
GalateaDunkel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 687
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I do think you have an absolute obligation to raise the child Jewish. Respecting the wishes of the dead is a value that cuts across religious lines. I am not so sure your take on Judaism vs. other religions is necessarily adequate. Unlike some strains of Christianity, Judaism does not get hung up on criticizing other faiths or how "wrong" they supposedly are. Judaism does not teach that you have to be Jewish to be a good person or that non-Jews should become Jewish.

I'm also pretty uncomfortable with Jeannine's statements to the effect that Jewish practices are really just take-offs on pagan ones. This may be somewhat true for Christianity, but Jewish traditions are truly ancient, and indigenous to the Jewish people, arising from their own unique historical experiences. As a pagan perhaps you can find value in that. Surely there is a way to introduce her to information about your faith, but just as surely "here let's talk about how my way is the original one and yours is just a copy" isn't it.

IMO the best thing for you to do is 1. practice your own faith actively so that it becomes a natural part of the family's rhythms and you don't feel resentful. 2. Stop thinking of your daughter as "being raised" Jewish and just think of her as Jewish. I think almost everyone on MDC would agree that a child's spirit is of equal dignity with an adult's, just at a different developmental stage. So she is a Jew, full stop. Who deserves access to her traditions. But as a child, she can't access them on her own. That's where you come in. 3. Look at her grandparents as an example. They are paying beaucoup bucks to educate her in a religion for which her mother abandoned the religion they raised her in. If anyone should be resentful it is them, but they are responding with a pure intention of love for their granddaughter and respect for their late daughter. So you, who have less skin in the game so to speak, should be able to grin and bear it through a few menorah lightings and such.
GalateaDunkel is offline  
#8 of 15 Old 09-17-2010, 02:40 PM
 
VocalMinority's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: surrounded by testosterone
Posts: 1,303
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by GalateaDunkel View Post
I'm also pretty uncomfortable with Jeannine's statements to the effect that Jewish practices are really just take-offs on pagan ones. This may be somewhat true for Christianity, but Jewish traditions are truly ancient, and indigenous to the Jewish people, arising from their own unique historical experiences.
I definitely did not mean to offend anyone with that. I know it's true of some Christian traditions...Christianity stemmed from Judaisim... but, like I said, I know less about Judaism, so I was suggesting she research it. Perhaps, as you suggest, she would learn there is no connection at all.

One woman in a house full of men:  my soul mate:    or... twin sons:(HS seniors) ... step-son:  (a sophomore) ... our little man:   (a first grader) ... and there is another female in the house, after all:  our
VocalMinority is offline  
#9 of 15 Old 09-17-2010, 06:43 PM
 
Smithie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 4,421
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
IME, it's sometimes an ancient inscrutable Israelite mystery and sometimes a clear pagan spinoff. Even the stuff that one might classify as ancient-Israelite is probably a pagan spinoff if you go far back enough - because what do you think the Israelites were before Abraham got tapped to lead a monotheist revolution? We all started out worshipping the elements and moved into worshipping an increasingly complex pantheon of gods that represented them.

My kids are actually really into this right now, as the 1st grader is studying ancient history. They just set up a Shabbat table and invited Horus and Anubis to have Shabbat with them. Also the entire cast of Dinosaur Train.
Smithie is offline  
#10 of 15 Old 09-18-2010, 10:06 PM
 
VocalMinority's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: surrounded by testosterone
Posts: 1,303
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post
...They just set up a Shabbat table and invited Horus and Anubis to have Shabbat with them. Also the entire cast of Dinosaur Train.

One woman in a house full of men:  my soul mate:    or... twin sons:(HS seniors) ... step-son:  (a sophomore) ... our little man:   (a first grader) ... and there is another female in the house, after all:  our
VocalMinority is offline  
#11 of 15 Old 10-05-2010, 08:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
mizliz72's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 50
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Thank you to everyone who responded. I appreciate all the points of view and suggestions.

To Smithie, thank you for the comment that she IS my daughter - that means a lot to me. I'm not the best parent sometimes, but I love her and deep down I want to do the best I can to give her what was taken from her. I know that time doesn't matter much when it comes to love, but the time SO was with SD's mom and the time SD was with her was so short (tragicly short, and I acknowledge this and understand it), I suppose I just like to have acknowledgement for the time I've put in. SD's mom converted to Judaism in 2001 (her learning was put on hold for a bit I think in about '98 when she first had cancer), SO met her in 2002, they had SD in Dec. 2003, 6 months later she had cancer again, and 7 months after that, when SD was 1, she passed. She spent most of those 7 months hospitalized so she and SD didn't even have the time together that a mother and baby should have. I met him on-line just a few months later in Spring of 2005 (at the Equinox no less, and I do find meaning in that since it is the time of renewal and beginings) and have been with him, and SD, for nearly 6 years now. I can't say I'm "more a mom" than her birth mother, I would never try to lessen that relationship no matter how short it was, but even though she says "I miss my mommy" sometimes, she has no real memory of her and I am the mom she's known all these years.

I guess the tough part is finding a way to be able to share my faith (though SO chides me a bit because I admit that my faith is a bit unclear - I think as a Pagan or someone leaning that way, unless you are fully involved in a particular tradition or Pantheon, a lot of us face this lack of clarity - and he feels that if even I am unable to fully define and explain it, then how can I share it with her. I guess the tough part is that I have a bit of a hard time supporting what she's learning religiously if I don't believe in it.

I am involved in the Jewish holidays that she celebrates, and I go to the Passover seder her maternal grandmother hosts, and other things that come along. I go to events at her school when I can - I work full-time. SO, SD and I helped put up, and this past Sunday take down, the sukkah at her school. I think I actually know a lot more about the Jewish holidays and beliefs than my SO does. I think I do more than he does to learn about it and I think I actually have more of a curiosity about it than he does. I honestly am interested in other religions, but I guess I just keep having a hard time with SD's being Jewish because I fear that it has more to do with her mother than what's best for her, if that makes any sense. I don't want her to feel she has to be Jewish becuase her mother was, or put pressure on herself to do it in order to feel close to her mother - make sense? And selfishly, not sharing that religion with her, I somehow see it as one more reminder she isn't really mine and one more way to feel like an outsider. I admit these are not really rational feelings, but they are there regardless.

Perhaps a talk with the Rabbi at the temple she goes to with her grandmother would be helpful. I am not sure. I think having spiritual beliefs that are out of the norm, and not the same as anyone else in the family (mine included) makes me feel like perhaps her Jewish community (her school and the temple she attends) will look down on me and they'll think that it's in SD's best interest NOT to be exposed to my beliefs. I have had her light candles in a ceramic Yule Log though, and I think I want to do it this year too. We have Samhain (Halloween) coming up and she does go trick-or-treating, but I'm not sure if there's more I can share with her - perhaps the idea that it is a time when we can honor the dead, such as her mother (and my father - I do try to let her know that I too have a parent who passed away and that I understand her loss, at least a bit). Not sure. Don't want to scare her or freak her out, she is only 6.

I'm not sure if this is the right place for me, being I do not subscribe to attachment parenting or co-sleeping, etc. and I hate to say but I'm not as "natural" as I'd like to be (who knows if my parenting style would be different had I experienced pregnancy and birthing SD myself - it's something I never planned but also do feel I've "missed out" on in life). Thanks for listening.
mizliz72 is offline  
#12 of 15 Old 10-05-2010, 11:08 AM
 
Smithie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 4,421
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Thanks for sharing!

I was really afraid that I would be looked down on too, when I moved to my current city and joined a temple for the first time. I didn't have a Jewish education, I am of mixed descent, my husband is not Jewish - why would they want me around? I sort of resigned myself to "I may never feel totally accepted here, but my kids will grow up with the strong religious community that I wish I had, and that's the goal." Turns out that in fact they DO want me around, and I've seen the same welcome given to people with no Jewish ancestry, who actively practice other belief systems, but are drawn into the life of the Jewish community through a kinship connection such as yours.

Every Jewish community is different, but talking to the rabbi about your feelings is definitely worth a try. Maybe you could schedule an interview ostensibly to discuss your DD's "road map" to bat mitzvah and what will be expected of you as parents. That is a conversation that will naturally lead to all the other stuff you have to discuss. (And you will get tremendous brownie points right off the bat for demonstrating that you take it seriously enough to come in and talk about it!)

If Iwere your rabbi, I would try very hard to facilitate an introduction to the yogini/Eastern/crunchy Jewish women in town, who would have TONS of ideas for family celebrations and everyday observances that are compatible with your own spiritual style and convey messages that you feel good about giving to your daughter. Judaism has a long and glorious mystic tradition, much as that can be hard to believe when you attend high holy days and see us dressed in "church clothes" and talking about sin and repentance.
Smithie is offline  
#13 of 15 Old 10-05-2010, 12:18 PM
 
Ione's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 773
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
As Smithie said, every Jewish community is different, but I think talking to the rabbi would be good. I hope that rabbi is as open and good at his job as the rabbi at my mother's temple.

My mother converted to Judaism when she married my stepdad. I did not and am not considered Jewish. Nor do I consider myself Jewish. But my siblings are. I have always felt welcome and included, even as a non-Jew.

When my Catholic grandmother died (my mom's mom), the rabbi came to my mother's house for a prayer service, to which my mother's non-Jewish family was invited and many attended. The service both followed Jewish tradition, and acknowledged my grandmother's faith... The rabbi did a beautiful job of explaining the meaning behind the service and the purpose of the traditions involved to the non-Jews... and including us all in the religious community to which my mother belongs because of our ties to her.

Judaism is not a proletizing religion. And, more than many other mainstream religions I've encountered, in my experience, is one least threatened by the existence of other beliefs.

At our family's Passover dinner two years ago, my stepdad said something that might help too: a Jewish parent's duty is to raise their children with understanding of Jewish religion and traditions, but it is NOT his or her duty to ensure that their children will be believers. (He used the metaphore of "packing their suitcase"--which led to lots of "baggage" jokes.)

Another anecdote: I am raising my daughter as an agnostic (I am agnostic, her father is athiest). Despite this, she attended a Jewish summer camp run by the synagoge one summer. There was no religious "conversion-coertion" going on. None of the "if you don't believe, you're going to hell" stuff that you get with some Christian faiths. No one challenged her beliefs, they just lived by thiers.

Seriously, talk to the rabbi. Find out more about how that particular community feels about your situation. How they can support you and your H in raising a Jewish child. How accepting they are of you as non-Jews.

If it's a bad fit, you should know that and you can look for another Jewish synagogue to join. One that is a better fit for your needs.

If it's a good fit, you will come away from the talk with a much clearer picture of your role.

And, I'd be willing to bet that you'll also come away from the talk with more peace about exposing your D to your belief system and about that exposure not being something to fear even from the prospect of raising a Jewish child.
Ione is offline  
#14 of 15 Old 10-06-2010, 09:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
mizliz72's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 50
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Maybe you could schedule an interview ostensibly to discuss your DD's "road map" to bat mitzvah and what will be expected of you as parents.

I suppose what bothers me is that certain things are expected of me that I may not be ok with. It's not my faith, so I guess some part of me doesn't want to be expected to do things I don't agree with. Does that make sense? But I feel if I don't involve myself, I'm not really being mom. I am both possessive and insecure enough with my role that I don't want to be left out of or let others take on what I see should be my job. I know, I'm a nut case.

Also, I do find a lot I agree with and admire about Judaism. I find it is a much more natur-based and environmentally-friendly religion than many, such as (and no offense to Christians) Christianity. Judaism has a lunar-based calendar and is more concerned with the natural cycles of the earth and the moon, and in my opinion, more suportive of living in harmony with the earth rather than having dominion over it and nature. I suppose it's the idea of a deity and our relationship with it (I find the divine in the earth and think of God(s) and Godess(es) as simply a way in which we can more easily relate to and understand the aspects of the divine) or at least how I interpret it in Judeo-Christian faiths what I cringe at and want to pull away from. It's hard for me to say the words "Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe" when I don't believe the words, and I don't believe that the bible or the Torah or any other holy book are anything more than the word of men and myth and alegory.

Perhaps a talk with a Rabbi or even parents of her classmates would help. I'm not overly close to any of the other parents, but we have developed a pretty friendly relationship with a couple of them.
mizliz72 is offline  
#15 of 15 Old 10-07-2010, 04:58 PM
 
Smithie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 4,421
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
"...I guess some part of me doesn't want to be expected to do things I don't agree with. Does that make sense? But I feel if I don't involve myself, I'm not really being mom. I am both possessive and insecure enough with my role that I don't want to be left out of or let others take on what I see should be my job. I know, I'm a nut case."

That's not nutty at all. It's a little Jewish-mothery, but given the situation I think you are entitled to be a little Jewish-mothery now and then.

This is exactly the kind of thing that your rabbi (or education director) needs to hear about, though. Of course you wan to have ownership and responsibility in your daughter's life cycle events. Of course you don't want to mouth words you don't believe. Those two needs can be simultaneously fulfilled. There is so much to be done that is meaningful and vital and does not involve chanting Torah.

"... and I don't believe that the bible or the Torah or any other holy book are anything more than the word of men and myth and alegory."

Many born-Jews in your daughter's congregation likely agree with you on that one.
Smithie is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Drag and Drop File Upload
Drag files here to attach!
Upload Progress: 0
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mothering Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off