Disclaimer: I debated posting this. In no way it’s an attempt to hurt anyone’s feelings. Just sharing my thoughts.
“Mom, why do we celebrate Diwali and my best friend doesn’t”. My daughter to me. A fair question from a six year old. By virtue of being born in a family that adheres to Hinduism as a religion, we celebrate Diwali, a very prominent Hindu holiday.
That doesn’t mean we don’t celebrate Christmas. In fact, at this very moment, my house is on Christmas steroids. Alexa is being instructed to play ‘Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer’, recipes for the dinner are being decided, the never ending debate of fake vs real tree is on and every parent’s headache, “why can’t Santa get us more than one toy, mom?” question is being asked, repeatedly.
No, we are not Christians and yes, we still celebrate Christmas. Just like, we celebrate Eid and Hanukkah with our some of close friends who happen to be Muslims and Jewish. My take on religion, customs, and holidays is that these are meant to include people and not separate them or make anyone feel left out.
I am immensely lucky that my husband shares my values, making parenting on such issues much easier. Owing to this, we never instituted a strong conversation around and about religion with our kids. This doesn’t mean we didn’t talk God.
Contrary to that, we talk about God all the time. Because for my husband and I, God is a way of life. It means respecting everything and everyone, humans and nature. It means believing in science just as much as believing in the unproven science. It means believing in the motions of successes and failures, tears and joys, and goods and bad. For us, God isn’t an either/or situation, but this, that and everything in between. Because of this strong concept of inclusivity, it also means accepting and respecting the non-believers.
So it was only natural that when we became parents, we decided that we will never impose our beliefs on kids. They have the right to their journeys and as parents we decided to encourage their questions and help them seek their own answers.
That brings me back to her question, more importantly to an opportune time to discuss religion. Of course I did it in a way she could comprehend and appreciate.
1) Religion is commonly practiced ways to celebrate God.
No matter where you choose to celebrate your birthdays, Chuck e cheese, jumping place, home or some other play center, the goal is to celebrate you and your friends. Different religions are just that, different ways of celebrating the same God.
2. Believing in one religion doesn’t mean that you should disapprove or disregard others.
We all have different mamas and daddies. While we love ours, we can’t be disrespectful to others’.
3) Appreciating and learning about someone else’s religion doesn’t mean that you are abandoning or disrespecting yours.
Reading different books in the library doesn’t mean that you are falling out of love with your favorite book. Learn about everything because it’s always the unknown that’s scarier than the known.
Lastly and most importantly, Holidays are nothing but celebration of life, goodness, friends and families. So celebrate as many holidays as you want and your heart desires. Just know Santa will get you only one toy and if you continue to pester me for more he just might make it coal for this year.