Religion and Co-Parenting

Right Wrong Edited

Along with some other fascinating demands (yet outside the jurisdiction of the court – that whole separation of church and state thing), of divorced parents, is attempting to force the other parent to observe their religion, in the other home.  Hopefully we are seeing a pattern here that you do not control what goes on in the other parents’ home even when your children are there.  I completely understand that religion is a touchy subject and I await the flood of emails once I hit “Publish”.  But, some things must be addressed.

If you are a religious person, and you want to raise your child in your religion, you have every right to do so.  Your ex cannot tell you that you cannot take your child to church and raise your child in your religion, during your visitation.  It is your right as that child’s parent to teach your child about your religion.  That being said, NO, that does not mean that you get to show up on their doorstep and take the child on their days.  If a church event falls on the other parent’s visitation day, your child will not be allowed to attend without their permission.  This is where it is prudent for everyone to play nice.  It also does not mean that the other parent is required to observe said religion that you have chosen in their home.

If you are a non-religious person, that’s perfectly fine too.  You do not have to teach your child about God and organized religion.  This does not make you a bad parent, and you are perfectly capable of teaching right and wrong, without the fear of God and/or hell, as backup.  That being said, do not assume you are right.  Atheists are just as annoying as religious zealots.  Remember, as Mark Maron says, “there are no atheist soup kitchens”.  If your ex is trying to teach your children not to steal, kill, rape, pillage, etc., these aren’t bad lessons and they are not hurting anyone, so just stop.

Neither side will know who is right until we are all too dead to gloat, so stop competing.  

The trickiest situation is when each parent believes in a different religion altogether.  This is more difficult because you feel strongly that yours is accurate.  You really feel as if you are fighting for your child’s soul here, which is decidedly worth fighting for.  I get it.  But…yes, there’s a but.  You two don’t agree on things, that’s why you’re divorced.  I know this seems obvious, but I keep coming back to it because parents forget this.  Take a step back, do your part just like you do in every other area of your child’s life, and remember that what your ex does, or teaches in their home is none of your business.  Also, (and I know you don’t want to hear this, but it needs to be said), I don’t know any religion that condones divorce (correct me if I’m wrong).  If you two are so darn religious that you are at each other’s throats about it, how did you end up divorced?  Shouldn’t you be off building schools in Africa and flagellating yourself?  Exactly, you don’t get to be religious when it’s convenient.  It makes the rest of us look bad.  Stop it.

Your child will have questions when they receive conflicting information.  Use this as an opportunity to teach tolerance.  Many people believe many things.  That they should listen to everyone’s different beliefs because you can take something away from each person and their relationship with God, or lack there of, for that matter.

At the end of the day, you need to be honest with yourself.  Do not use religion as something to fight about (historically this fails *sweeps Spanish Inquisition under the rug*), because you like power struggles with your ex.  In the end, your child is going to grow up and decide for themselves.  You do your own thing, in your home, and the rest will fall into place.