Mixed Faith Marriages & Children

I’m interested to hear how children are “affected” in mixed faith marriages. I have heard that the children have a high probably of following the fathers religion? Anyone with experience of a mixed faith marriage? Particularly those who are an unbeliever with a believer.

I am Christian (currently looking at Catholicism but haven’t decided yet) and my husband is atheist (with a strange sensitivity (in a good way) towards Catholicism). I love my husband dearly and he is going to be a great Dad when we have children. At the moment, there is no problem with the difference in faith, my husband is very supportive. That said, I know kids pick up on things easily even if you think your hiding them “mummy, why doesn’t daddy come to church” etc

So just curious to hear of other people’s experiences?

We are married 42 years, I am a cradle Catholic and my husband is not a member of any Church having been raised that way. We have 2 children who are married with children and they are being raised Catholic. My husband knew I would always be Catholic and so would our children. He never stood in the way despite some very negative feelings about the Church. It was not always easy but raising children in general is a challenge. I have no regrets but would always recommend marrying someone who shares your faith.

When my parents got married my Dad was Catholic and my Mom was Protestant. They raised my siblings and I Catholic, and after being married for six years, my Mom became Catholic. :slight_smile:

Never married but I like to tell the story from my perspective as the child.

My mother was Catholic; my father, born into some mainline Protesant church but never attended services.

Dad was supportive of Mom’s faith and her raising me as a Roman Catholic; he was at least glad that I had a church to go to. I do remember asking Mom why Dad doesn’t go to Catholic Mass with us and Mom just told me, “He was brought up differently!”

I think, too, back in the day (40 years ago), it was more common for mixed marriage kids to follow the father’s church; one of my friends thought it was unusual that I went to my mother’s church instead of my father’s.

There is a good book called “Till Faith do us Part” which is a pretty intensive study on mixed faith families and all the issues. The author is Jewish and married an inactive JW and they raised their children Jewish. It is a mixed bag and in the raising of children what seemed to come out in the author’s research is that children usually do better when they are raised in one parent’s faith over the other. There is less confusion and conflicts than trying to bounce children between two faiths. Since you are leaning toward the Catholic Church and your husband is more open or supportive, then that can be something you can look into for your children. There isn’t anything in the book or otherwise that the children should be raised in one parent over another. Usually, it is the mom that is most often involved in the going back and forth to religious education and services. As a note, Judaism considers children Jewish if the mom is Jewish. Islam considers that the children should follow the father’s faith. The book is a fair study and analysis and I think will be more helpful and accurate and present some things for you to consider in your situation.

My mother was raised Baptist and my father Methodist. She says her pastor counseled her to join my father’s church upon marriage. After his death 23 years later she eventually joined an African Methodist Episcopal church. meanwhile I became agnostic/atheist as a young adult . My little brother after studying under African American nationalist Maulana Karanga eventually became a Minister Mohammed with The Nation Of Islam.

I would say my path was more informed by us dropping church going in favor of first LA Ram season tickets and then by the networks increasingly broadcasting other sports on Sunday mornings.

I am married to an atheist.

Our son is 18, and is still very active in our parish. He has never talked about leaving the Church or not attending Mass. Of course, since he still lives at home, we have a long way to go to see if he stays Catholic.

I can say that both my mother and my father were raised by two Catholic parents. From those that I know, I am the only grandchild on either side that still attends Mass.

Mixed marriages only work when one person is strong in their faith, religion, denomination etc and the other isn’t. When this occurs the couple must agree to raise their children in the faith of the person who is active in their religion. If two are very active in their religion, then confusion can occur especially if it is between any christian denomination and other religion. For example Catholic and Islam, Pentecostal and Hindu, Jew and Christian (sometimes) that type of thing. If it is between two similar christian denominations such as Catholic and Anglican, it can also work. It just depends on how the parents decide to raise their children.

Religion in general helps to give children a sense of belonging therefore it is important for parents to educate their children at home about the faith in hopes they will continue it to the next generation.

I’m a cradle Catholic, DH is a non-believer. We have three children, now adults. Two are nominal Catholics and one does not practice any religion. The kids were raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools. DH had no problem with me raising the kids in the Church. He was supportive when he could be, got out of the way when he couldn’t lend support. One thing he would not do, however, was be dishonest with the children about his atheism. He has always gone to Mass with me whenever he is in town, so the kids didn’t really notice his lack of belief until they were older. When they did reach the point where they noticed and asked about it, he was very upfront with them.

All in all, our situation, while not perfect from a Catholic perspective, works for us.

I good friend of mine from my youth. His dad was Catholic and his mom Lutheran. My friend was raised Lutheran, and I know of no conflict because it was planned out and agreed upon first.

Jon

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.