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Momvo: When to Discuss Religion with Kids


One of the things I love best about ediTORIal is the community we’ve built here on the site. I really enjoying reading all of your thoughts and comments- I have such hilarious and stylish readers! So, I decided to make a new blog series titled, Momvo (mom convo) so we can all share stories and thoughts about hot mommy topics. Hope you enjoy my first Momvo post!

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This morning I walked into the kids’ room and I heard Liam and Stella talking to each other. Liam said to Stella “you’re a Jewish” and Stella said, “No Liam, you’re a Jewish.” I walked in and said “technically you are both Jewish.”

They both asked why and I said, “because I’m Jewish,” to which Stella replied, “you’re not Jewish, you are just a mom.” I then asked them, without having a completely proper answer prepared, if they knew what being Jewish meant. They both said No.

At what age is it appropriate to start talking to your kids about religion and heritage? And what if you and your husband have different religious backgrounds? I know we weren’t prepared to have this conversation yet and still completely aren’t. Luckily for the time being they were distracted when they heard Dean call “breakfast is ready” from the kitchen.

Leave me your thoughts on this topic in the comments below!

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  • Yvette Patten

    I think there is no set age that is “right” – sometimes you just know that it’s time. I’ve always tried to answer my childrens questions, openly and honestly, when they asked – as my (now) 12 year old has never taken the answer “Because” to be what she wanted to hear – she always wanted to know more … We’ve always been open and honest with her (and our 3 other children — I’ll never forget my 4 year old asking “What’s a uterus?” when our 6 year old asked where the babies were (when I was pregnant with our twins) and we answered “They are in my uterus” because “in my belly” was not a good enough answer for her – ha ha.

    When it comes to religion and heritage, I think it’s important to start as young as possible – they learn so much and so quickly … and can be influenced by everything and everyone around them. They need to have a strong base and who better to get that from, than their parents :) It probably will not be easy – when there are conflicting views on religion. I can’t even begin to imagine what that would be like. I guess you would start with anything that you both agree on (if there is any) and go from there.

    Sometimes it would be nice if children came with a manual – but every one of them are so different. :)

  • Christine Bouchard

    OK it might just be me but we have talked about our religion since day one. I am a Christian and my husband is a supportive questionable believer. So in our house I am the spiritual leader. From the moment my son was born we prayed nightly and as he has gotten bigger we now pray with him before meals. Since my mother is deceased we have told him pretty much since birth that Grandma lives in heaven with God and all the angels. We can talk to both her and God in our hearts and even though we can’t physically hear them they will both guide us and both love us. We attend church weekly and we have an AMAZING children’s church so my son has been going to his “Sunday School” classes since he was 1. I am very active in my church so he understands that mommy might not be home that night cause I am doing things at church. We read a devotional together in the morning before we headed out the door for the day- this is a new habit for us so I must admit we don’t remember everyday but it’s a work in progress. I guess when it comes to religion and when to talk to your children about it depends on how devote you are in your faith. Maybe looking into a kids book (We started with Christmas and Easter since they are the big days in our faith). Not sure what there is in the Jewish faith but maybe there are kids movies out like the Veggie Tale ones we use to help teach him different bible stories. I say enbrace their questions and make an impact when they are young so they have a good understand of who to turn to as they become young adults.

  • Jaime Shepard

    I think it is best to start early. I think they would understand a lot more than you think they would. And a lot of the religious stories can be simplified for children, and you could make it really fun for them. There are also alot of children’s books that can introduce numerous religious backgrounds. But Tori, you know what is best for your kids. When you feel they are ready, they will be ready. Good luck!

  • Lauren Grandinetti

    When I was young I was forced into Catholicism by my grandmother, I had no idea why I was catholic and through the years I began to get very frustrated with the state of this particular organized religion….my area has a big problem with priests and child porn and child molestation. I realized that I could have my own personal relationship with god and that I didn’t need someone telling me how to pray to him. This is what works for me, I would never deny my children whatever relationship with god that they choose to have, but I think that they should be old enough to choose it for themselves and make a more informed decision than you are or aren’t because I say so.

  • Kelly_kpb

    A lot of it depends on your participation in your religion I think. One in my family is Jewish by heritage more by faith, so that heritage and history was important while growing up. There was no interference with my brother and I being brought up in a Christian home (I was born on Palm Sunday and was in church a week later!). The other side of the coin, however, is that a lot of our Christian relatives shoved it down our throats to the point where I rebelled–and rebelled in FINE form for awhile!–before coming back to the church.

    I think what is most important is providing your children with the knowledge they need to make an informed choice as a late teen/early adult for what they believe and choose to follow and/or worship and how active a participant they wish to be. Without an education in any religion, there is no opportunity. Of course I want my children to choose the path I did and profess to a Christian faith, preferably in the same worship style as I choose. But what is most important is that I taught them what I believe and gave them the knowledge, and also exposed them to other belief systems as well (Judiasm, Catholicism, Hindu) through friends so that as they grow and start to ask informed questions in their own right they have the background and knowledge to make the decision.

    Finally, the most important thing is to accept the choice that my children make/have made. I have given them option and opportunity. I have to live with the choice they make. If they choose a path that is not what I would prefer, I have to respect the choice that they make and the life they have laid for themselves. It is my job to love them, not to judge.

  • Amy Dowell

    Wow, tough question! I’m honest with my kids about what I believe while still letting them have the freedom to choose their own religious beliefs. I try to foster a love and respect of all people in my kids, which includes teaching them about different religious beliefs so they see what’s out there for themselves.

    Talking about religion can be tough. On the one hand you’re responsible for mentoring your kids spirituality and teaching them important life lessons. On the other hand, they’re their own little person with their own unique spirit and mindset, and that should always be honored.

    My husband came from a mostly atheist family and I came from a Christian family. We’re both Christian now, but maybe not typical ones. I believe in loving everyone, no matter their sexual orientation or religious beliefs and I try to instill those same values in my kids. My husband brings his own unique views to our family, which I deeply respect. At the end of the day, we don’t agree on everything but that’s okay. Even at the young age of 2 and 4, our kids are beginning to form their own opinions about life and religion and I love that.

  • Jamie Morris

    My husband and I were both raised Catholic and although we are not practicing Catholics we have decided it is the foundation we will lay for our children because it is what we know. We both feel it is very important for our children to have an understanding of religion, even if we do not always agree with certain aspects or beliefs. We go to church (aka Jesus’ house to our 3yr old) a few times a year and try to incorporate religion around holidays like Christmas and Easter. So many wonderful memories have come from it already. Our son calls his dress shoes his “Jesus shoes” because he only wears them to church. Last year while we were at mass he looked at me and said “Mommy, Jesus doesn’t have a house he has a castle.” In that moment I felt I was doing something right because my son recognized the church was not as simple as a house. It was grand and stood for something more and at not quite 3 he was grasping that.

    At the end of the day the hope is to raise loving, caring, accepting children who respect opinions and beliefs of others. It is amazing what parts of one story about church or one holiday event will stick in a child’s mind. Small incorporations of religion at the toddler age so far have seemed to work in our family.

    Best of luck to all parents on this topic.

  • GabiGirl

    Neither of my parents were religious growing up, it wasn’t until I went to a private school in 2nd grade that I first learned anything to do with religion and God. I have my own beliefs and a faith. I think, like many here, it has to be right for you and Dean. You share different views and it is okay to teach your kids your beliefs and then help them go from there. Personally, I do not see why they couldn’t follow both, isn’t more about being a good person and doing good in the world?

    For me, I will never follow one specific religion. I had to learn and there are so many different beliefs that I can believe in, that make sense to me. LOL….I think that starting your kids young on a level that they will understand is best. I think answering their questions directly is best and if they are satisfied then you get to prepare yourself for the next one! If not, continue telling them and go into more detail. I have a 6 year old granddaughter that has started asking questions and making comments based on things she hears her parents/family talk about. When I correct her, she asks why and if I say because she just looks at me like I am stupid! Sorry, I am going off on a tangent…

  • Jean Varga

    My family is Lumbee Indian. Unfortunately we aren’t very involved in the Native American community. Growing up we learned about it from birth and went to Pow Wow’s and danced before we could walk. LOL! Well, my niece and daughter go to the same school and my nice told my daughter she was Native American. My sister is very involved and all her children dance and participate. So my daughter asked me and I told her yes. My husband didn’t like that I told her yes, and confused her and told her no she is Hungarian. He is hungarian and doesn’t understand the culture. I would like to get her more involved but want to wait until she is old enough to decide for herself what she would like to do. We grew up both Catholic and Native and it was very confusing. I think it’s good to teach them what they are but offer them enough room for them to decide what they would like to do. We pray before dinner and bed and attend a Methodist church. This poor kid is going to be so confused. But I think the base is there for her to decide what is right for her.

  • Briana Smith Leonard

    I think there is no such thing as too early. Of course, you’ll want to keep your discussion at an age appropriate level, but being open to talk about spirituality and religion is very important. My husband and I were both raised in very “strict” Catholic homes (church every Sunday, making the sacrements, etc.) but in recent years have turned to an Interfaith community that embraces humanity and expresses divinity. That is what we want to teach our son. To embrace everyone and know that Spirit (God, the Divine, Source, whatever one chooses to call it) is within all living things. I do, however, find myself wondering how we are going to navigate the questions that I’m sure will be heading our way. “How come Grandma and Grandpa go to a different church?” Those kind of things. But I think being open with him will be very helpful. From what I’ve seen on your show you and Dean are very open with your kids and I think they will be very receptive to what you have to tell them.

  • stacy wilson

    it’s never to early :)

    my girls went to church ( non denominational) with us and got involved with the childrens ministires there, i began to volunteer. they were amazed.

    and no matter my faith, or your, it’s still really cute and sweet that they can say things at 2 like, be kind, jesus want’s you to be.

    i think whatever faith you are, or aren’t is fine. but let your kids choose for themselves if it’s too much, or if you are already involved in a community, decide if they are gaining positive from it or if it’s too much.

    it’s hard. your scenario with stella and liam was really cute, and i think you said the right stuff mama.

  • Emily Gray

    I grew up in a very conservative Christian home and my Husband grew up with no religion at all in his family. Since starting our life together my husband has become a Christian and we have decided to center our family around that. However I am much less conservative then my parents( in politics and world views) and while we teach our 2 year old son about God and Jesus and praying etc.. I dont want to force it on him, I want it to be something he chooses for himself when he fully understands. I feel my parents didn’t do the best job exposing us to more then our own religions, and views. But I do believe the younger the better. The more time they have to be exposed to it the better. I want my child to be well rounded and know about lots of religions and not just his own!!

  • danielle trubela

    We introduced the concept of religion to our son around 5 yrs old – as some playschool friends were now going to catholic schools and others went to public- Then he could grasp the concept.

    We never had our son baptized, nada. I am Irish Prodestant, my hubby Italian Roman Catholic.We thought we would leave it to our son to make his own decision on his terms when he is older (he is 17 now)

    (TRUE STORY & FUNNY)

    One day with company over, the topic of religion came up, and our then 6 year old son had announced that he was not Catholic, Jewish or anything - he would always be a REPUBLICAN and that’s the way it was!

    LOL- Well he does go to a public school and what makes it especially funny is that we’re Canadian and the Republican and Democratic parties not exist here in Canada! - We have different types of politcal parties and how does that all even relate to religion? Well it just doesnt.

    That story WILL be told at his wedding- hands down!

  • Kiara Ramirez

    I don’t think there is a certain age “rule” we always talked about it since the kids were babies, my son (7) goes to a Lutheran school, not because I’m LUtheran but because is the one I liked the best (90 students in the whole school) and the most affordable. For a whole year he talked about getting baptized, I pretended not to hear him because I’m Christian but he took it upon him self to talk to the pastor and arange his own baptism, he also asked my sister if she would be his god-mother, you think he was ready? I did, so he was baptised. Heritage…. I don’t know, I teach him about mine. He adopted me when he was 1 (that’s what he tells people) his biological mom was also adopted so we know nothing about their heritage.

  • Shannon G.

    We have been raised with religion – We are members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or Mormons. Right behind family in our priorities was always church. I have raised my kids the same way. I know they will make their own choices as they get older but having a good foundation (which is what saved my husband and me from a lot of heartache growing up) is key. We had our standards and our beliefs that I know I took to heart and it has helped make me the person I am today. So I say the earlier the better and whatever religion you are embrace it! I know it will only make us all better people!

  • Ashley Baloney

    I don’t have kids (yet!) but I was a preschool special needs teaching assistant so I have a pretty good foundation in young brain theory. I think a good benchmark for gauging a child’s understanding would be asking them about their friends – what they like about them, know about them, how are they alike and different. That could be a perfect jumping off point into describing how families can be different, what makes our family special, and how all families are special. It might seem scary, but you’ll be fine!

  • Erin

    My son is 3 and we attend Church and we pray at every meal and he knows he bows his head but he doesn’t understand what it all means yet but we talk about religion with him and about church. I don’t think its too early to start talking as a family about faith and religion and your beliefs.

  • Charlotte Saldivar

    My husband and I are Catholic and we weren’t practicing when our daughters were very young although we did get them baptized when they were 18 months. They actually brought us back to the church, so to speak. I realized that I wanted them to grow up with a strong foundation and learn about our religion. When they were in kindergarten, we started them in classes at church in our faith formation catechism. They were only 5. They would come home with questions so it was easy to have an open dialogue and they would be excited to share what hey learned. They loved it. I don’t think it is ever too young. Your children are listening to everything you say anyway so it is a good idea to explain basic beliefs you have now. My daughters, Amelia and Alexandra, are now 14 and I think they have a better sense who they are and their spirituality than those who don’t gravitate or learn about religion. You seem to be a great mother and I am sure that you will handle everything wonderfully!

  • Monica

    Its never too early. If you raise your kids in a spiritual way, then teach them from day 1. For example, if you’re jewish, teach your kids about the traditions and holidays as they come up, but of course in a way that they will understand. I don’t have kids but my brother taught his kids to pray, ever since they could talk. They are comforted by prayer when they are scared or sick. My 6yr old niece loves it when I pray over her. She has the biggest grin on her face and is happy as can be. I also think its important to teach them to respect other people’s religious beliefs once they understand about their religion.

  • Atria Rondone

    I think the right time, for you, is NOW. As soon as they start discussing it among themselves or when they ask you questions about it. I think you should only offer as much information as they ask for. It isn’t necessary for kids to know everything, just tell them as much, or as little, as they want to know!

  • Sharon Stanfield

    I think the right time is when you decide it. I started my kids early. They wanted to know why we go to church on sundays when they were little. We learned from our parents who we are as individuals and we grow from there. Like my husband he grew up catholic but when he met me. He decided he wanted to be methodist. So we really caused a stir in his family when we got married. But we are raising our children as christians and as well as methodists. I believe in being a Christian more than being a Methodist. United Methodists is a church that fits into our family better than any other church we have been too. I was raised as a Methodist but my grandparents are baptist. I believe that we go to the same heaven as well as catholics, baptists,jewish people, methodists, chirstians, seven day advents. As long as you are bringing your children up with values and morales. You are comfortable with your church and you are happy in it. The kids will follow whatever you are putting in front of them as an example. They will asks questions. So tell them what you believe in and be an example to them.

  • Jackie C

    Hm, I don’t have kids yet, but as a girl that was raised Catholic but have relatives that are Jewish and Buddhist (I have an interesting family! lol), I was exposed to different religions at a young age. I kind of like that I knew about different religions as I was growing up. I also think that it is important to ground your kids in some kind of religion. If your Jewish heritage is very important to you, then it might be good to start telling your kids about it. I think I saw that you had a Shabbat (sp?)dinner (I’ve been to a few with my relatives) and that is a good start!! If you want to get your kids even more involved in the faith by taking them to services, you maybe can make sure that they get involved with interfaith activities so that they know about different religions while still maintaining your religious roots. I have a friend that is very involved with interfaith activities, she leads groups where she brings in kids from all kinds of backgrounds, and I think that’s great!! Anyway, when it comes down to it religions (and parents) teach kids how to be good people, so any kind of religion will give your kids the right start in life :)

    By the way, got the necklace and I LOVE it!! I’m wearing it to my friend’s bridal shower this weekend. I also treated myself to a pair of shoes which I will also be wearing!! I tried on some sparkly heels and thought I have no idea where I will wear these (I don’t really go out too much anymore) so I bought a pair of gold flats with feathers on them (a little Gatsby touch I thought). Thank you so much again!!!

  • Nikki Rogalski

    What a great question! Having raised two grown boys (they are both in their mid and late 20′s with kids of their own) my thought is this … its never too late to talk to your children about religion (we prefer talking about our faith rather than oragnized religion) and their heritage. Even if they arent that the age to talk, I believe they do hear and retain information as they did when they were infants/babies. Introducing them to game, traditions, or even symbolic meal preparation that help them understand their religion/faith or heritage is a fun way to introduce them to learning about one of the things that is important about who they are. :)

  • Kyla

    We have talked with our son about different religions since he was about 3. We have taken him to church services and to visit temples and shrines when on holiday. He was really taken with Buddha when we visited a buddhist temple when he was 5 and decided that he was Buddhist. He has borrowed some books from the library on Buddhism and is self taught – so cute and he takes it quite seriously. We just encourage him to learn as much as he can.

  • Bonnie Horton

    Tori,

    Sounds like you need to find out what you believe before you start teaching them anything. Maybe its a sign that you need to start searching yourself. Nothing like having children to make you want to find the truth.

    You are responsible to God to teach your children the truth about who God is and make sure they know how to get to Heaven. At the end of the day..or life ..is there really anything more important? Teach your kids thier heritage. Jesus himself was Jewish. That should be very exciting to your kids.

    You research everything else….start researching your heritage and dig deep Tori. Youll find it! why dont you blog about this. we will follow you..Its the most important thing you can give your children.

  • elpete15

    As an 18 year old still living at home, I cannot comment as a mother. But as a daughter, I can say that I have no memory of my parents sitting me down and “having a religion talk” I have always grown up going to church when my parents did, but not every sunday. I could always tell I went to a different type of church then my moms side of the family and that religion was more important to my moms side of the family and not so important on my dads side. My parents just answered my questions as they came and I am glad they did. I always felt informed and like I could ask my parents anything I wanted to know.

  • DrKat Van Kirk

    If its coming up now, now is the time. I have a two year old and a four month old and I’ve begun preparing not only for the question but a plan to help my kids understand our non-traditional belief systems (I’m Buddhist, my husband is a Secular Humanist). We want to be sure to give our kids an ethical framework from which they can begin to make their own decisions about faith (my husband and I were big raised Catholic). Exploring traditions, the grey areas of right and wrong in every day existence and finding a community with which to practice can be very helpful.

  • Syl Ols

    I think religion teaches people and kids a lot about history. The earlier we talk about it the better. My kid goes to a Catholic school but we also have a manorah in the house for Hanukkah. Why you ask? Because my step-dad is jewish and I think it’s important for my kids to learn about both. And the more religions the better. Hate due to religions have started wars. So let’s educate!

  • Hilary Mouat

    I am still only 15 so I can’t say as a mother but for me my mom and dad never sat us down to talk about it. I suppose at a young age my parents explained it to me but for me I have always known about my parents religious views. I would say whenever you are ready and think its right. Telling them wont scar them they will be more aware on the topic. Its a win win.

  • Sharon Kruschen

    I think believing in something is very important. I think the earlier you discuss religion the better, so that way they have something to connect with.

  • Lemon Meringue

    These are the best topics on your site! I love being able to connect with mums from all over the planet, to read about differences but even better, finding out what we have in common! In my opinion, when you follow the pace of your children in these matters, you are never to soon or too late. I love to share my knowledge with them, but I love it best when I don’t have answers either and we start a search to find them. Over the time I e-mailed or got in touch in other ways with a mayor, science- and nature specialists, medical doctors, a vicar and even an imam to pose them a question my kids asked me and I did not have the answers to. You can feed your children (sometimes literally!) with the heritage you are brought up with and they become part of that heritage in a very natural, playfull way (the Shabbat dinner you recently wrote about). My husband and I were brought up in a Protestant way, but I recently found out that I was baptized as a Catholic. They never told me about it, but it appeared my father was from a Roman Catholic family but converted after I was born. So these days I am digging a bit in that heritage and I love it! Allthough I am not a practicing religious person at all, I do strongly believe in being honest, loving, caring, tolerant and open to each other and yourself (Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself!) and we are trying to raise our kids in that way. And I believe that traditions are there for a reason: to give kids a solid ground to grow up on, a save environment to discover who the are and who they want to be. So be curious and be honest and do it together with them!

  • Alison Clemency

    Well I know in my house this is a “sensitive” subject. My Husband is Agnostic and for myself well I call myself a Christian but I do not believe in church. So essentially I do believe in God and the ways of which I was grew up being raised in believing but I do not believe in church and I do not believe that one needs to go to church in order to worship.

    My mother forced religion upon me since well..I can remember. For that I have issues with it. Regardless when my children are with her for a weekend and they feel they want to go, they will go to church with her. Some questions have come up in certain conversations they will over hear my husband and I having. However nothing real serious. Typically when they hear the conversations occuring they tune it out. I think they realize that it is not for them at this age and they have no interest.

    I certainly think that if a child is truly interested it does not matter the age of which you talk about it. If a child at 2 or 3 years old is taken to a religious place and enjoys it then that is great but nothing should be forced upon a child. I would kind of feed off the child their interest level with it in order to talk about it. I also would not initiate a conversation first I would wait until I heard it from their mouths and then talk about it but very lightly.

    Recently in fact my seven year old came up to me and asked who God is. So I explained the belief behind God and so forth. However it got to be weird because I understand why people have doubts with religion and find myself when explaining it having doubts with certain things. So it is real difficult for me to explain it since there is my Husband’s view that unless you see it, it doesn’t exist and my view where you feel it and can believe it.

    To conclude this little “vent” lol…I would say that any age is appropriate as long as they show an interest. I am completely against forcing a child into it.

  • daisy reguero

    hi every one, hi tori.ok so this is my topic because i myself go to church with my kids ,and im teaching them about god and the bible,but here is where it gets good because i don’t have religion i have god,and if people ask me whats my belief i would answer love unconditionally,listen without judging,acccept without critisism and respect for one another,so you see at the end of the day it realy does not matter what you believe in because if you think about it we all are searching for the same thing peace on earth, unity and love. no matter the color the culture,the sexual preference.im a woman with strong faith and very spiritual and im teaching my kids that my faith is god but as they get old enough to make thier decisions in life whatever they choose im there for them and with them because no matter how you see it or say god is love and love does not discriminate.i read somewhere that if your heart is pure you will only see the good,and when you see the good you will see god. by echoe bodine. and i believe that beacuse i practice everyday to see the good, as for what age to start with your children well that depends on you, my advice pray and meditate about it ,you are an awsome mom and your momma instinct will let you know when its the rigth time and when you feel comfortable to speak about it and your children will be comfy to listen.also in the meantime introduce them little by little starting with your belief.at the end of the day you guys will figure it out because you are a family that works together as one unit and the love overflows.

  • Tammie D

    I have a 14 yr old daughter and an 8 yr old daughter, and I have always talked to them about God, Jesus, praying, reading their bible and going to church since they were newborns. Now I know they may not have understood what I was talking about, but I wanted to make sure that the Lord was always apart of their life. I attended a Baptist church til I was 12. My mother was methodist; my father was raised Baptist, but he was also Cherokee Indian. My mother made me attend church until I was 12, and then I didn’t have to go any more because I was “old enough” to decide if I wanted to go or not. I did not want to go to the church I had been attending, but I did want to go to church. At 13 I began attending a non-denominational church with my oldest brother and his family. I loved it. I loved the people there and the youth group. I also started learning about my native american heritage and their faith. My husband was not raised going to church, and he tended more toward the agnostic belief, but after our youngest daughter was born, he dropped to his knees in the hospital room and gave his life to the Lord right then. (we had quite a few miscarriages and I had almost lost my daughter during my 7th month of pregnancy, but she was a month premature and the only health issuses she had was asthma because her lungs were weak.) Since then we have taken our girls to church, but now that my oldest is 14, I do not make her go to church with us. She goes when she wants to, but she is old enough to make her own decisions on some things. Our home school cirriculum is Christian based. I guess saying all that what I was trying to say is when they are babies is a great time, in my opinion, to start talking to them, but I think they will let you know (as your children did) when they are ready to know more and you should teach them about all of their heritage. My girls have really embraced my Native American heritage, but they also love their daddy’s Scotch/Irish heritage and since we incorporate all of the religious beliefs of each heritage into our faith, we do not affliate ourselves with one certain religion. We consider ourselves spiritual and Christians.

  • Suzanne Brown

    My opinion is right from the start! It is never to early to start talking to your children about where they came from or about the beliefs you hope they will one day share. If your husband is a different religion hopefully before having kids you have already discussed how they will be raised. Heaven help you if not ;)

    Wouldn’t they want to know from the start why or why not they go to church, synogogue or mosque? Celebrate certain holiday’s or have certain moral or ethical standards? Religion is a huge part of my daily life so maybe to me it is more of a natural flow. Things come up and answers are short and sweet. I try to explain things to them to where they can understand and make sense of it and most imporatntly live my own life in away they will see through my actions that God is love.

  • Mel_j

    I was raised in the United Church (Presbyterian), my husband in the Anglican Church (Episcopal), however neither of us are interested in raising our children to believe in God. We want our children to learn about all cultures and religions and appreciate their diversity.

    Lately, our 6 year old son is coming home with detailed stories about God moving the clouds and creating lightning – and that’s just the beginning! I have nothing against people who embrace regilion, and I want my children knowing what religions exist, but it’s a tough conversation/explanation without discrediting the school friend or religion in general. At the moment we’re going with the “everyone believes different things” approach.

    If anyone is aware of a few good resources that speak to the whole spectrum of beliefs, that would be very helpful.

  • Anna Sarris

    As soon as possible. I attended Catholic grade school, grades 1-8, and being surrounded by the church helped me immensely.

  • Jay

    I believe the sooner, the better! I’m sure you know this already but their little minds soak up so much the first 6 years. They are so eager to learn in the early years, so why not expose them to your beliefs during this crucial learning stage in their little lifes. I have a 2 year old son, and we read Bible stories and say our prayers every night. He has actually started leading us in prayer. Which is the sweetest thing I think I have ever heard (I’m not biased at all ;). My husband and I have different beliefs (He’s mormon and I’m baptist). What we try to do is focus on what we have in common. So you are jewish and your husband is?… Christian, I’ll assume just because that is what most americans are. So you both believe in God and the old testament laws and commandments. You can also pray together as a family. I think you and your husband can find many things in common to share with your children. I think prayer is a wonderful tool for a child. It teaches them that there is always someone there for them to talk to that loves them. Even when mommy and daddy aren’t around they are never alone. They can pray when they are sad, scared or lonely. God is always there. It was comforting to me as a child when I was scared to pray for God’s protection and comfort. Teaching my son about my beliefs is very important to me. I feel it will help me answer all of his questions in the future. It’s so comforting for me to know that any major life question I have are all in one book, that I can turn to when ever I need it. It’s my survival guide to this crazy world. I hope my son feels the same one day.

  • debitee

    my daughter Emily had so many wonderful stories of Heaven when she was 1 & 1/2 that she pretty much started our conversations…I probably learned more from her,then she’ll ever learn from me….I miss hearing those stories…

  • Shaey A

    I feel it is best to answer questions as your children voice them. When they are younger you can evaluate how ‘much’ to share, or how far to elaborate, but always address with facts and truth as you know them. It is okay for your children to know that parents have differnt views on things. It is a great opportunity to share that we value people and their differences.

    I have three boys and all are teenagers now, I love that we have always been open and answer questions they have. They do not hesitate to come to us now, because we have always been honest with them and they know it.

    We are a strong very devoted Christian family, but my children are aware what other religions believe, because when they asked we answered them. We didn’t try to pretend our choices were their only options. Religion is a personal choice.

    Being Jewish you have two fold answer, one, your heritage, two do you believe in practicing Jeudism as a religion.

    By answering your children’s questions as they arise, you children develope a confidence that the only wrong question is the one not asked between children and their parents :)

    Many blessings to you in this journey, it is the greatest adventure of all! http://www.writingforjoy.wordpress.com

  • Jen Ulstein

    I agree with others about talking about religion right from the start! So much of what we do is based on our values which come from our faith/beliefs, so it’s only natural to talk about it! We’re both Catholic and our babies have grown up going to Mass regularly, and we pray together as a family. I also think the rich traditions that come along with our religion are so great for the kids to enjoy (the holidays, the feast days of saints, etc). Celebrate your beliefs!

    http://www.kenjiandjen.com

  • Katie Ogden

    I am thinking of this same thing of how to approach it with my daughter due to I have religious belief and My husband dose not . we have decided to let her choose now just to figure start the ball rolling

  • ashley rozanski

    I am not a mother yet, but I was raised by parents with two different religous backgrounds. My mom is Jewish and my father is Catholic. I am Catholic, but still embrace my Jewish herritage as well. For as long as I can remember, I have known the relgious beliefs of my parents. I feel that even though Liam and Stella may be too young to completely understand what it means to be Jewish, it is important to try to explain it to them. I feel that being raised by parents of two different religious backgrounds has made me a very accepting person, partly because they informed me of their beliefs when I was so young. I hope this helps and good luck! :)

  • Christina Beahan

    My kids have been in church learning our religion since birth. I’m Colombian and catholicism is such a big part of my culture and I grew up in the church. I think the earlier the better, especially if it’s a big part of your cultural and heritage like it is for me!

  • Kati Amarantes

    This is a very interesting post, I am not sure if you will ever see my response, but thought I would contribute anyway. So my husband is Jewish and I am Christian. This has always been a hot topic for our relationship, as my husband’s family is quite traditional and did not approve of our marriage, let alone having children that were not raised Jewish. We made it very clear to everyone from the moment we got engaged, that we would raise our children how we pleased, without any imput from anyone else. We have one daughter who is going to be three. From the day she was born, it was extremely important to both myself as well as my husband, that we expose her to both religions. This means that she celebrates both holidays and we make it important that she understand both religions. We do not let anyone other than ourselves engage in religions activities with her, as we feel its our job. When she is only enought (13 or older) and she decides what religion she would like to be, both my husband and I will fully support her decision. While I know that this may not be the “correct way” to expose a child to religion, it is how we chose. Because religion has been such a source of stress for my husband and myself, we did not want our children to face that. We feel that we have enough love for our children without making our children feel that one religion is superior. While my husband and I each have certain feelings towards the others religion, we do not share our thoughts with our daughter. If she has questions, we answer them, but most importantly, we let know that relighion aside, she is very loved and we will always be there for her. Good luck to you!!

  • Hanna Wangelin

    I actually thing children should be able to choose for themsesves when they are big enough to understand what religion is. Of course if the question comes, just answer it as simple as you can.

    Religion can be very good, if you are able to choose it for yourself. My daughter is five and she has a friend, the friends parents are quite religious, protestants, and go to church on sunday. (yes, some people do that in Sweden still ;)) My girl has asked me some things about the devil and hell. Are that something you talk to a five year old about? NO!!!

    When my daughter is old enough to know and understand what god and heaven and hell and being a protestant or a buddist or whatever means, then I will truly talk to her about my beliefs and answer what ever questins that come up. It is not me who should choose for her what to believe, except beeing a good human to others. She shall have the choice to decide that for herself.

  • Mae Zaragoza

    i think the beauty of having children is creating the world we want…For me that is having kids that are more compassionate about differences, physically, spiritually, politically. Tori-your little ones are so fortunate to already be so exposed to differneces and they embrace them! This is just another example Tori-you are Jewish but celebrate Christmas. What an opportunity to showcase how different religions can live together! Get into the discussion-keep it real and with Love and thats what is translated and embraced!

  • Jennifer K

    Birth! But perhaps I begin talking about things to early, seeing as my 6 year old and I have already discussed feminism, the Civil War, menstrual cycles, third world hunger, and more.

    I believe this is a personal choice that is different for everyone. For me, it began at birth, even though they were too little to know it. I am Christian, and so we do things like attend church and pray (at meals, before bed, for others, etc), so religion has just always been a part of our/their lives. I did not need to wait to discuus it with themb/c it was always there. Questions came early and we discussed them as they came up. My daughter went to a church preschool and learned a lot about our religion at that time, too. I was so proud of her! When I was 3, I had no idea Easter was a religious holiday, all I knew was the bunny!

    There is always a way to make discussions age-appropriate. My daughter is now 6, but we had these talks years ago. Now, she is coming to me with harder questions, like “If God created the universe, who created God?” I love that she is critically thinking. We have also discussed other religions. She is most familiar with Jewish traditions b/c several of her classmates are Jewish, but we have talked about Islam, Buddism, atheism, etc. Yes, I teach her to believe in Jesus, though I know ultimately the choice is hers, but I also teach her to love and respect everyone the same no matter how similar or different they are to her/us. Every size, shape, color, religion, class, temperment…treat people with love and respect.

  • Nina Holter

    I think that you should wait until the children are ready, because then it is most likely you will get some questions you can answer.

    My children are 3 and 5 and have not asked yet but when they do I hope I can answer their questions on the level that they are in their life. But since your children are using the word Jewish without undrestanding what it means maybe it is time for you to start telling them what it means and hopefully they have some questions that will make it easier for you to tell more about it.

    Good luck to you!

  • joanna Durand

    Theres a great book thats just been released here in France its called “The Hidden Child” (l’enfant cach

  • Lauren Hutchinson

    I saw an episode of your show and Liam asked why the chicken was trying to have sex with the other chicken or something along that subject. You were very open with him about this subject and that intrigued me. Why should we hide things from children just because they are young? If they know, then they know. I think you have the right idea in just that. Tell them when it comes about. If they question something, then they are ready to learn about it or at least be aware of it. that’s my opinion :) So excited for Baby #4!!!! :) Luv you Tori!!

    Lauren

  • Tamatha Knighton

    My son has certainly asked questions and I answer as age appropriate as I can. Like he knows that God makes everything and that Jesus is always watching him, be good hint hint, LOL. He also knows what Christmas and Easter are for. Even Jesus sacrifice, due to the crucifix I wear on my necklace and he questioned what it was. But other than that we have never discussed the more in depth details. I think that with everything else it will all come as they grow and learn.

  • Eva Linton

    We are a very active Pagan family and have raised our kids that way. They love to hold rituals with us and work with magick. It’s nice to have them learn our ways and still know of other paths. They can decide what faith they want when they are older.

  • Whitney Mangum

    growing up religion, spiriuality and anything were not really ever a discussion. It was something that i had to pretty much figure out on my own and even now i continually learn more and more, most of which i was surprised to find, i learn a lot more of my spirituality and thus relious beliefs through my son who turns six on thursday. i have what i believe to be true and i make sure to expose him to those things but i make sure to never answer his qustions about god and jesus with anyother answer than ” what do u think about it?” this provides us my husband and i to give leo ( my son) the opportunity to form his own beliefs without feeling that he has to agree with what we do which in itself is hard since we experience new things everyday thatcan change our perspective. this is probably not in the realm of helpful but with the opportunities our children have in these day and age sometimes to me it seems that giving them as much opportunity to learn abput all the different religous beliefs, cultures and the like not only gives the, opportunity to form their own decisions but also teaches them to be more tolerant of those who might not have same beliefs as them. God knows that if we can teach tolerance and ability not to judge people and that is all they take away from us, we have done our job! sorry if not helpful but hopefully not offensive to anyone. by the way for background i am a nondenominational christian, but i prefer to call myself simply a jesus lover that loves everyone and judges no one.

  • Whitney Mangum

    sorry about horrible spelling, typing on my ipad is proving that i must have super fat fingers and zero depth perception! ;)

  • Meleah Brewster

    I believe if you include your children in your faith from birth it will be a natural, healthy, family time that they will look forward to, understand & feel comfortable with. Questions will always come up & that’s part of learning. I still have questions & hopefully always will. My children are raised in a Protestant/Catholic family. I, being the Protestant, take the kids to Church with me every other weekend. Their Dad, being the Catholic, takes them to Mass with him on his weekends. They have had questions about the differnece, but thankfully both are based on the Holy Bible & Jesus Christ so that makes it a little bit easier to explain. I feel we’ve done a pretty good job mixing the two. But whenever a parent decides to do this, that is their decsion & what is right for their family.

  • Jenn Hoskins

    We are Christian, we teach them from day 1, its not something we add in later. We know that we are to ‘train them in the way they should go and they will not depard from it’ according to scripture. Start off easy since they dont know much more than being Jewish. You have passover coming up, plus lots of other fun celebrations like purim and sukkot throughout the year. There are ways to make this kid friendly. You could also read through proverbs with them. There are 31 chapters, we do a chapter a day (on the 1st, we do chapter 1, the 4th, chapter 4, etc. great for a busy mommy of soon to be 6 children like me who cant keep track of things! LOL). Have them ask questions, give them answers. Answers in Genesis is a great resource, they are Christian based but they have great kids books called ‘answers for kids’ that answer normal preschool aged kids questions, mainly about the old testament stories. I highly recommend them! And congrats on baby #4! Large families are awesome, I adore mine! :)

  • Ashley Struve

    For Liam and Stella, I think they are at an age where you can start to have that conversation in simple terms that they can process. My parents were raised in religious households, but they decided they wanted me to make my own choices in life about religion. They aimed to educate me – their main influence was to make sure I knew I had a choice. I agree with that philosophy wholeheartedly. When I was young, my parents brought me to a variety of churches where I asked a lot of questions. They never responded with answers like, “That isn’t the right way,” or anything like that. They encouraged friendships with people who were different than we were so that I would see firsthand how people believed different things and how they lived as a result of their personal beliefs. I grew up being very open and curious as a result, and most importantly, open and accepting. My aim is to instill that level of freedom with my own child. My daughter is 2 and has not yet inquired about religion or spirituality, but when she does we will meet her questions thoughtfully and openly. When it comes down to it – we will expose her to different beliefs and explain them as neutrally as possible. For us, it is most important that she be educated enough to make such choices for herself. Of course, she likely will not really make said choice until she is older. But until then, it is our responsibility as her parents to provide her with an environment where she can cultivate her own curiosity with respect to religion, philosophy, and spirituality. When Christmastime arrives this year, she will be older and might ask some questions. We do not go to church, we do not subscribe to religion as a practice ourselves. It is a beautiful idea and we are happy for those who find solace or peace within it, but for myself and my husband – we don’t subscribe… We will limit how much of that our child is exposed to since religion plays a part in our society and again, we don’t necessarily want to influence her too much by what we have decided for ourselves.

    We gave her life so she could live it. After all, we prepare our children for the path, we should never prepare the path for them. We can give them tools, information, support.

  • Stephanie Klaus

    I think it is important for kids to know where they come from and bits of their heritage. If Liam and Stella are talking about it, they must be prepared to at least have some sort of conversation about what it means to be Jewish. Kids are so smart, (especially yours!) that they would probably be able to handle it. At the same time, I would wait until either Liam or Stella brings the topic up again, I wouldn’t bring it up out of nowhere to them. You are such an incredible mother, and so inspirational that I’m sure you will handle the topic perfectly! Good luck, let us know what happens! And congrats on Baby #4!! =) Love you, Tori!

  • Amanda Philipson

    Here it is for you! I am Catholic and my Husband is not…luckily we had the discussion before the first of four and counting were born and prior to marriage. We would raise our kids Catholic. So they have been attending Mass at least once a week since birth. It is normal conversation in our house. It is actually a simple thing for little kids. There is a God, he is awesome, and he has rules. He is my boss and I answer to him. That is all they need to know for now. My advise on the different faiths in your house is this: Pray about it together and let God lead the way. Congratulations on your new baby. Blessed is he (or she) whose quiver is full of them. God has given you the gift of new life and in return you offer this gift to your children as a sibling and to the world for greatness.

  • Robin Powell

    Tori, do you celebrate any Jewish holidays with your kids? I know you do the Christian ones, but in order to get them to understand that their Jewish, they would need to celebrate Jewish customs. :)

  • celestealayne

    Hi Tori, my name is Celeste and it I wanted to first tell you that I love getting to know you and your family through your shows and this site. It seems that I get to peek into your life and soul — through seeing you on TV but alas, I really don’t know you but, am delighted and honored to cross your path in this virtual “Dwell”-ing. I do think you & your family are exceptional and that you possess incredibly unique ideas! I am thrilled to be a part of your empire as I simultaneously witness your amazing-spirit in action here!!

    With respect to this first Momvo, convo-topic, I felt compelled to say to you and your readers that I think having ‘shout it out loud and proud’ kind of pride for who you are; an amazing Jewish-Mamma, woman, daughter of the incredible Jewish Father & role model (who I know is proud of you as you are a role model too!), sister, friend, wife — and in your sharing your most treasured and time-honored Jewish traditions will create magical-personal-Jewish-memories and pride in being Jewish for you, your husband, children, family (not to mention your extended family). I can only imagine your brand of what it means to be proudly-Jewish & that you’d be doing your children (not to mention the world) the biggest MITZVAH and favor in your fully expressing your Torah-Tori-Style celebrations! Your children and mine (my one son‘s name is Dylan who just turned 3) look to us to see what it is that matters to us most and they are forever touched and enriched by our sharing. If we never shared our flavor of Jewishness they’d be missing out BIG time on who we and they are and we’d be making an even bigger statement by not doing so (in my opinion). So, “Mazel Tov” to you & yours on your new exciting addition! Happy Passover!

  • Chrissy Goodwin

    My daughter is 3, almost 4! We are Christian and , attened church weekly and if her father and I are not going, she goes with her MiMi. She has been going to church since an infant so it’s something she learned along the way, we don’t really have to teach her,it’s a part of her. Sometimes she’ll come from Sunday school telling me bible stories I dont even know! I am very happy that we are able to bring her to church and Sunday school. She loves it and learns so much and is a wonderful little girl becasue of it!

  • Evy De Bruyckere

    Since I don’t have any children yet, I can’t compare to you as a parent. I can tell you how I was raised though. My grandparents were quite religious, but my parents weren’t. When I was little, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house and they prayed a lot, had tons of religious symbols in their home, took me with them to church,… At home, religion wasn’t really discussed. I never really asked about it, neither did my brother. We both felt we could make our own decisions. When we were small, we still acted as whatever people expected from us, but when we became 12 years old, we were free to choose. Maybe that’s why we both aren’t very religious, though we respect all kinds of religions and we take part in religious ceremonies when asked (like weddings, funerals,…). It’s just not something we ever missed. I’m glad that I had the opportunity to choose for my own, instead of being forced in it (like some people still are).

    My grandmother especially was very religious, but even she always left me the choice to pray, to go to church,…

    I think that most of the children in Western-Europe had the same choice as I did. Though people are getting less and less religious over here, we still attach lots of value to holidays like Easter, Christmas,… Even non-catholics. :)

  • Kelly Bridgeman

    I think it’s up to you and your husband to decide what is appropriate for Liam and Stella. If they are curious I would put it in terms that they can understand. With my 15 and 13 yr olds when they were little I read them Bible stories for kids. Like they would have done in Sunday school. Seeing as how you and Dean have different faiths lead them at first to the core understanding then as they get older you can each show them your faith. How strong your faith in your religious beliefs will have an impact on how strong thiers will be. As they reach teen years and adulthood it is ultimately up to them to choose. My youngest is 8 years old and it’s been harder with him because he has an ASD so his understanding came later. His curiousity jusst began so we got the video series SuperBook. It’s a cartoon series of Bible stories. That too may help with Liam and Stella. Good Luck and no matter what religion you are God Bless.

  • Jaymie

    My son is 16 months old and I teach him to pray and we read his Bible together daily. I explain the story we just read having the faith he is soaking it in like a sponge:) I also teach him to pray and Thank God for our blessings. I thought my husband was on the same page till about a month ago he told me he wasn’t going to church anymore and he wasn’t sure he had faith that God was real. Of course it broke my heart but as a wife i have to be the light for my family now until he’s ready to be the spiritual leader. Any questions that you have about life, marriage, or raising your children seek God and read his word:) I will keep your family in my prayers.