While a baby celebration should be a time of joy and happiness, many parents of mixed faiths find themselves fretting over the event. In families with strong religious beliefs, they may be concerned about offending one side of the family or the other.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem; parents must decide what is important to them and reach a compromise that keeps their baby’s best interests in mind while accomplishing their goal: to celebrate the birth of their new little one.
Assigning One Parent’s Faith
The first major decision inter-faith parents face is which religion their child will practice as they are raised. Ideally, this choice will dictate whether they have a baptism, a Hindu head-shaving ceremony, the Muslim rites of passage or any other religious ceremony performed after birth.
However, asking one parent to compromise entirely isn’t the right choice for every couple. Many are more comfortable exposing the child to both religions and allowing them to make their own choice later in life.
This approach is great for many families, although it leaves the couple open to pressures from the extended family. A well wishing, deeply religious aunt may push for a baptism as she is concerned for the baby’s soul if they are not baptized. A grandfather may feel dejected if his grandson does not receive the blessing that every family member usually receives at birth.
Parents confronted with these serious issues must make a decision that they are comfortable with and inform their families that there will be no further discussion on the subject.
Two Separate Ceremonies
This seems the obvious first choice; both sides of the family get to see the child’s birth celebrated according to their own faith and tradition. However, it does take away from the deep meaning of both ceremonies, as the child cannot fully commit to two separate religions.
A Secular Celebration
A non-denominational celebration, presided over by a licensed officiant, can be the right choice for some. Family members can offer blessings according to their religious beliefs without committing the infant to one religion or the other.
Planning and Etiquette
The best way to prevent conflict or hurt feelings over the affair is to inform family members of your choices. Don’t keep secrets or spring surprises on anyone. When you do make your decision as to what type of celebration you will have, call any family members who may not understand or agree with your choice and gently explain to them that this is what you have decided to do and you would appreciate their support, in whatever way they can show it.
In the worst case scenario, a relative may feel so strongly about the issue that they refuse to attend your event. If this is the case, understand that they are not against you or your baby; they simply don’t agree with the religious choice you have made. Tell them you understand and make time to take Baby to visit them as soon as you can.