Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Youthful Curiosity

by Project Interfaith board member, Mary Palu.

My husband and I have two amazing (in my slightly biased opinion) daughters, ages four and one. At Christmas our four-year-old daughter asked if we celebrated Hanukkah. We are Catholic, so the simple answer was, “No.” She then followed up with, “Why not?” Again, the simple answer was, “Because we aren’t Jewish.” Since she’s four that answer seemed sufficient to her.

But her question got me thinking about how we, as parents, can sustain the youthful curiosity our children have about other faith traditions. As a parent, I hope our daughters find a sense of love, hope, community and support within their own faith, whatever that may grow and evolve to be. But I also hope they embrace the way others in their lives choose to live out their faith.

So, here’s what I’m pledging to do to help make this a reality for my daughters.
1. Experience: Find opportunities for our family to see how others put beliefs into practice –attending services in other faith communities, participating in faith traditions with friends, etc.
2. Share: Share our faith traditions with our friends and ask them to do the same with us.
3. Read: Our girls love books. Find stories that explore faith in an engaging way. Here’s where I insert a shameless plug for Project Interfaith’s upcoming Children’s Storytime series!
4. Listen: Use our children’s’ questions as opportunities for both them and us to learn and grow.

These are simple things, but I know it takes a concerted effort to make them happen. I’m sure there are lots of other ideas and I hope that others who read this might share them.

I’m honored to be a part of an organization that is dedicated to creating ways for people to not only understand, but actively engage and dialogue with those whose background and identity is different than their own. This is immensely important in creating a community that doesn’t just tolerate people of all faiths, beliefs and cultures – but embraces them in a way that makes all of our lives richer. In today’s world we need organizations like Project Interfaith that are doing this in a thoughtful, deliberate way.

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