Real Life Story

I Was Raised By Parents of Two Different Faiths

Topics: Inter-Faith,Getting Serious

Though many believe that growing up in interfaith households can be overwhelming, we find out that it’s actually a lot of fun.

Interfaith parenting may confuse children. It may misguide them, make communication complicated, and give rise to conflicts that may be hard to resolve.

But 15-year-old Eric’s experience growing up with parents of two different faiths is far from those assumptions.

Eric’s mother is Christian and his father is Muslim. Currently in the Philippines, Eric has lived in quite a few places around the world due to his father’s job in surveillance and security. Though he has had to deal with his fair share of  judgement, he believes growing up in an interfaith household helped him be a better person.

“[My parents] have their own places to pray. They also have separate prayer timings and their own rituals,” Eric said. “We celebrate almost all festivals from both sides. So that’s a lot of fun.”

When others think of kids with interfaith parents, they might think of the different holidays and celebrations as a cause for confusion and tension. Which do the kids celebrate? How do they choose?

According to Eric, there’s no need to choose. He celebrates all, and remembers them fondly.  “I have great memories of both my parents and their parents celebrating everything,” he said.

And it’s not just Eric who enjoys the festivities.

“Sometimes I think our neighbors love us so much because we are always celebrating something and there’s great food for everyone,” he said.

Of course, religion is not just about parties. It’s about practicing values of the faiths as well.

Eric’s parents have taken him to Christian churches as well as mosques, and he has learned different ways to pray from his parents and grandparents.

But not everyone understands their situation.

Abby, Eric’s mom, said she and her husband had to convince a lot of people that their relationship would work and that they could raise a family. According to her, all that time spent defending themselves from others made her and her husband stronger together. “We were too busy building a life together to think of picking sides,” she said.

Even after Abby and her husband got married and had children however, people still questioned their relationship.

Eric said that growing up in an interfaith household wasn’t difficult, but dealing with what people outside thought was. According to him, he and his parents have been laughed at in religious gatherings for being “confused.” But he has found a way to deal with it.

“There are others who will be willing to listen to you and understand you. I feel it’s better to think of that and spend time with them," he said.

For his part, Eric has enjoyed the experience of being raised by parents of two different faiths.

“My parents teach me things that I see others struggle to learn. Like patience. I have learned patience because both my parents took the time to teach me about their respective religions,” Eric said. “They taught me to be kind because they were not just kind to each other, but other people of other faiths too. They also taught me how to be brave, fight for what I truly want, and love and protect my family.”

Abby says that ultimately, this is what matters the most to her as a parent: what type of person Eric is, regardless of his religion.

“More than being religious, Eric needs to be kind, caring, and supportive,” she said. “It’s pointless having a religious son who is sexist or cruel.”

“I learn from the best of both worlds,” Eric said. “If anything, I love it.”

Source: Romano Santos, VICE author

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