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One Home, Many Religions: Ask Noah

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Q: My husband and I have an eight-year old daughter. He was raised Jewish and I grew up Catholic. Neither of us is traditionally religious. However, after deciding to raise our daughter in a non-sectarian fashion, she's now bringing home religion-based questions from school. In response to her inquiries, we now want to bring her awareness of the faiths she's inherited. How can we best do this?

A: This is a very common question for mixed-faith parents of young children.

I suggest engaging your daughter in a conversation to seek out the origin of her questions. Perhaps it was a lesson in school centered on religion, or a classmate sharing a faith based custom with her. Get interested in what she's interested in and what prompted her line of inquiry.

Start an age appropriate discussion of other world religions. It is never too early to learn tolerance. Your eight year old daughter may eventually practice Catholicism, Judaism, or another religion altogether. She may choose to not identify with any organized religion. The important part is that she begin to understand her options.

Remember, there is beauty that comes with a very young person becoming curious about matters of faith. She is questioning what she knows and what she doesn't. Smart girl.

Don't be afraid to educate her on your own experiences related to faith. Don't worry this will not be Hebrew school or Bible study (not that there is anything wrong with that!).

It is simply a matter of putting something as abstract as religion into something she can understand. Focus on family history including stories regarding grandparents and great grandparents. Don't be afraid to explain why you are Catholic and your husband is Jewish. It does not matter that you do not practice the faith. It is about where you both come from.

Let her education teach both of you. If her present line of questioning came from a school lesson, involve yourselves in this exploration. If she is learning religious traditions from around the world, jump in and learn with her.

You may have the facts already, but learning through the eyes of inexperience can truly reflect back to us our own biases and resistances. You may actually find your world education needs sharpening, too. We never want to deny a child the chance to explore faith. I admire your willingness to promote her exploration and nurture her curiosity.

Good luck to you both!



Send all questions to Ask Noah at nskass@gmail.com.

Have a profitable and peaceful week,

Noah



This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Noah Kass is a psychotherapist specializing in addiction, relationship issues and work stressors. He has been Clinical Director at The Dunes: East Hampton and Realization Center in Union Square. Mr. Kass was a frequent guest on MSNBCs "The Dylan Ratigan Show," featured in a segment called "Kass' Couch" and regularly blogs for The Huffington Post.

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