My story is a little different, and I may take a different approach when I am asked similar things. I grew up in a dual-religion household. My mother is Anglican and my father is Muslim. I grew up being taken to mosque and church, seeing two sides and two stories (with some commonalities, of course, as these religions are siblings to a degree). In any event, the older I got, the more traumatic it got. In parochial school, I learned my father would not go to heaven. I forget the ins and outs now, but I recall my Muslim grandfather telling me sadly that my mother would not go to heaven. Did I have to CHOOSE? Which was right? How could they be incompatible systems? Would I only get one parent in the afterlife? Were there NO contingencies for people who were good and faithful, but followed a different faith? Could there be separate heavens altogether? Which one would I go to?
I descended into moral crisis. My parents – and their well-intentioned plan to raise me with an open mind – had landed me in an unsolvable quandary. To deny Islam was to deny my father. To deny Christianity was to deny my mother. And having grown up with both for so long, I could not choose one. I had come to see them both as valid faiths. But I myself did not have "capital F" Faith. I understood academically that Christ redeemed and that Allah would save [and that technically, both of those were in tension]. But I did not grow up thinking of one of those things as TRUE, as in gospel truth. And once that window closed, it felt like it closed forever.
My goal has been to spare my children the drama. As much as I roll my eyes at the contraception, abortion, and premarital sex doctrines [among others], I intend to raise my kids Catholic. I guess I just don't want them to look back on his life and feel like I undermined their opportunity to BELIEVE in something.
Whenever I go to church, I so desperately want to FEEL something. That same something my husband feels when he goes to church. But my heart knows that there are people down Mass Ave. worshipping at the national mosque, and I cannot at this point choose one value system. The way I see it, my children can reject Christ later if they want. But if they are like their mother, it may be hard for them to accept Christ later if I don't build the foundation.
I also don't like the idea that religion should be taken literally. All the rapes and pillaging and sodomy and incest and wretched wars and slavery. I think many would agree those are colorful tales intended to convey moral points. Heck, they may be historically accurate to some degree, as the world is a dreadful place. But they are not supposed to be sanctioned merely by virtue of inclusion in a holy book.
I don't know if I am doing the right thing. There is no right thing. But I am doing the best I know how. And my very Catholic husband is content. And I get to keep the vow I made to the Roman Catholic church in 2007 when they married me. I did not convert, but I promised to raise my children in the faith. Promises to God are hard to break if you think He's watching ;)
CM again: I know so many dual-faith families and I've always assumed that if the parents encouraged the kids to participate in and explore both religions, the kids would grow up believing in one or both or would make an educated choice to reject them. It never occurred to me that the choice itself could produce so much conflict for a child.
As for undermining their opportunity to believe in something, I feel the same way. But I need to find a different solution. (Unless I don't? I mean, I don't believe in NOTHING. I believe in lots of things. I have figured out my beliefs over many years, and I continue to examine them. Maybe it's not so bad if my kids find their own way too? At the same time, what you said resonates, about sitting there and wanting to feel something.)
I rolled my eyes when my husband needed a dispensation from the Catholic Church to marry me. We went to a very liberal church, the one right in Harvard Square that has a large university-affiliated population. The priest there, in our pre-marriage counseling, asked if we planned to raise the kids Catholic. I felt like this was finally a question I could answer right, and we replied in the affirmative. He nodded, and then said, "Sometimes, when the children actually come along, no matter what your intentions, they end up changing. Always remember, the most important thing is --" (and here I expected him to say something like, "Your devotion to your church") "-- your marriage."
(P.S. - I think I'm done with this subject for a while, but this has been a great conversation and I hope it continues elsewhere.)