The changes in religion affiliation and upbringing experienced among the children of interfaith marriages are also impacting their grandparents, reports Time magazine (Sept. 27).
With estimates of about 28 million adults, 22 percent of the U.S. population, living in mixed-religion households, many of those who are parents end up choosing one religion for their children. “While many synagogues and churches have focused their efforts on welcoming young interfaith couples and providing strategies for raising a family…grandparent issues are often shunted aside,” writes Sally S. Stich. Grandparents often feel a strong sense of loss and confusion when finding their grandchildren are being raised in a different religion than the one in which they raised their own children, sometimes resulting in family tensions and conflicts.
To address this growing concern, several nonprofit organizations have cropped up offering guidance and advice specifically tailored to grandparents. For instance, the non-denominational Dovetail Institute (at the site: http://www.dovetailinstitute.com), is devoted to grandparents’ issues in interfaith families. Aside from a sense of loss, sometimes resentment is expressed by grandparents toward their children’s spouse or the other set of grandparents for their influence in the change of faith.
These groups and seminars tend to stress that family unity and loving relationships will have to trump religious beliefs.