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Fresh Take: Susan Katz Miller on Interfaith Families at the Holidays

by What Fresh Hell: Laughing in the Face of Motherhood
December 11th 2020
This week we’re talking to Susan Katz Miller, author of THE INTERFAITH FAMILY JOURNAL, a hands-on journal that helps families learn how to best honor one another’s spiritual and cultural needs.  The h... More
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, everybody, welcome to a what fresh hell. Fresh take. This is Amy and this is Margaret, and we have had a lot of questions on our Facebook page. Facebook dot com forward slash what fresh hell cast about interfaith holidays. And as Amy and I have long discussed, we are have many things not in common. But one thing we do have in common is we're both Catholic ladies who went to Catholic school, married to Catholic dudes, and so we don't have a lot of experience with interfaith holidays, and so we decided this was a perfect time for a guest to help us through it. Today's guest is Susan Katz Miller. She's a former Newsweek reporter who has written two books on interfaith families. She's the mom of two grown interfaith kids and one giant pandemic puppy named Olive. Her latest book is The Interfaith Family Journal, a hands on journal that helps families learn how to honor one another. Spiritual and cultural needs. Thanks for talking to us, Susan. So glad to be here. Let's start with the simple stuff. What is interfaith mean? How do

you define that? There's a level where every family is an interfaith family, even yours. And here's why. No two individuals have identical beliefs. Identical formative experiences in their childhood, even if they grew up technically in the same religion on belong to the same religion today, So every couple, every family has toe work out. You know, do we Do you know the lights on the house the way your family did, or we do them the way my family did. You always have to have those agreements that you come to together. But in terms of the more familiar idea of an interfaith family, you would have one parent from one religion and one parent from another religion, and more and more today you may have one parent who is affiliated

with a religion and another parent who is what statisticians call a religious none. N o N E not and U N not N u n like we're familiar with. So the religious nones are the fastest growing group in America when we look at religion, and that means they're either atheists or agnostics or simply live a secular life, simply don't feel like checking a religion box. Do not affiliate, and that is a very fast growing category. So a lot of interfaith marriages today are, say, a Christian married to a religious none or they may be to religious nones, but from different religious backgrounds. One thing that you point out. That is interesting to me because I hadn't really thought of this because I thought, Well, you know, we're both from, you know, Catholic marriages, But even it's interesting to me how deep these traditions go, and it's not something I would have acknowledged. But even spending the first Christmas with my husband's family. I mean, they're

Christian the tree. It's all very christmassy. But they did Christmas quote unquote wrong, you know, like they didn't do it correctly. It was all wrong, and it shocked me. I mean, I was 37 when this was happening. I got married late, and so I wasn't like, 21 just leaving my parents house. And I have, ah, cousin who always says they sold their family house, and every time he drives by, he's like, That's not where the Christmas tree goes. What's wrong with you people? Exactly. And it's funny to me that these I think that's important, that even if you share the same faith, these holiday traditions are like at a DNA level in us somehow, and you don't realize that I think until you start to navigate it, I would have said like I don't care that much. And then I went to experience it. And I was like, What kind of monster doesn't have a roast at 3 p.m. like what's wrong with you people, right? Exactly. And a couple of generations ago, you know, say an Italian Catholic marrying a Polish

Catholic was a scandal. Yes, let me tell you, you don't have to tell us that happened in both of our families, right? That was a pain point in our family tree. It was the Irish Catholic marrying an Italian Catholic and I mean rendered the garments time. So that's what I'm saying that everybody can actually, when you think about it, relate to this idea of having to family cultures come together and having to figure out how they fit, especially around times of religious holidays. So I have a sister in law who's an Italian Catholic, and when we're with her at Christmas, you know we do the seven fishes. That's what you do, Maki. But that's not something you would do. And an Irish family. We tend to think of these things, too, is being that sort of classic interfaith family is one Catholic, one Jew, and you've got the mention, the bench and the elf on the shelf and right, and you've got the Hanukkah bush. And but your book in a really wonderful 2020 way goes way beyond that and exploring what faiths

can come into play here. How did you do your research for this book? How did you go find so many different faiths? Well, when I did my first book, which was primarily about Jews and Christians marrying each other, I actually surveyed hundreds of families and interviewed, you know, hundreds. And then for by the time of the second book, I had begun coaching interfaith couples that came to me for guidance. So I had a lot more hands on deep experience with individual couples, and also my view had kind of expanded beyond the Jewish and Christian, which is what I grew up with. So I'm an interfaith kid myself. I had a Jewish parent and an Episcopalian parent, and so this is a topic that I've been living from birth and why I was so interested in working on it professionally. But by the time I wrote my second book, which just came out last year, I had become very aware

of the incredible diversity of interfaith families, whether that means, you know, Muslims marrying Hindus, Buddhists marrying pagans and also the idea that in a lot of families today we have actually three or more religious heritage. Is that are, you know, woven together, whether it's your step grandfather or your sister in law. If you have an extended family, most people dio, then chances are you're gonna have multiple religions represented. So to me, this is exciting to me. This is rich and beautiful and gives us an opportunity for all kinds of creativity and all kinds of education about who we are globally. Do you have any kind of go to rules around this topic, like one of the things we sometimes talk about on the podcast is try to go with the person it's more important to, or

I'm thinking of sort of global rules of how we self conflicts and families and marriage. Do you have any kind of global rules around this? I think my first and most important rule is empathy, and that's really important in December. It's really important in the pandemic. We need to put ourselves in the shoes of our partner and not just think, you know, you come in with the defensive attitude. You come in thinking about what's important to you, and you really have to put yourself in your partner's position, and it's not always obvious, and you need to draw them out and get them to talk about how they're feeling. You know what they did in childhood, what's important to them now, what's not important to them now. It's not always obvious, and that's why I wrote this. It's basically a workbook that takes you through all of that in a structured way that may be helpful if it's not comfortable for you to sit down and have those conversations

without some kind of structure. We were just talking. In a recent episode, we did an episode on parenting as a team and sort of deciding what you're. Priorities are not around faith necessarily, but talked about the importance of having intentional conversations in journaling and having the structure around it, preferably earlier on in your relationship, because, as you say in the book, you're gonna be doing this work anyhow and you could be doing it with the guides and the sort of external. Let's both talk about why this question, you know, matters to us or doesn't so tell us a little bit about what people would find in the book if they sat down to do the work in the journal. So it starts with journaling prompts, and ideally, you and your partner each have a copy of the journal and you do your journaling and then you trade and you read what they wrote. And then there are questions that you come together and discuss, and you talk about whether you understood what the person wrote or not. And then there's actually a creative exercise in each of the five

weeks each of the five chapters, because for some people, it's more comfortable to talk about these things when your hands are busy when your senses are engaged. So, for instance, in one week one chapter, I suggest making an interfaith family cookbook, and this is really relevant in December because a lot of those tastes and smells around your religion, often our Christmas or Hanukkah or duvally. And so I encourage you to go to all of your extended relatives and collect those recipes and stories that go with them and put it together into a little interfaith family cookbook. And then you can give it to your relatives. And it's a way of celebrating the interfaith nous of your family and that specific individual cultural gifts that you've gotten from each side. What about people? I hear this from friends of mine who are dealing with this situation, and I think the workbook

is It addresses this in a nice way for people who feel like letting in other traditions degrades their traditions in a certain way. It's like a pie. There's only so many slices, and everyone you give over to someone else's traditions kind of take something away from what you want. So I think that that is a feeling that most successful interfaith families get beyond pretty quickly. Often that is an attitude that an extended family member might have that's pressuring you to pick their religion bond. So you have to work with them. And there's a chapter in my book on engaging with extended family, especially those who may not approve of your family and doing it in a way that's respectful, and that makes them feel less fearful because this is about fear. It's about fear of assimilating, you know, into some mythical

Protestant America. It's about fear of losing your family heritage and those stories on. You don't have to lose any of that to me. It's very much a both and situation where you can honor your family and engage with other religions in and with your partner in a respectful way. And even the religious nones, it seems to me, have cultural traditions that are important to them. I mean, you could have grown up not going to church on Christmas, but you had a Christmas tree, and you have these things that your family always did. You always made the pepper cookies or whatever that are extremely important to you. Sure. I mean, we just had that with Thanksgiving, right? I mean, Thanksgiving is a secular holiday. Basic? I mean, I guess not historically, but there's not a religious tradition that is associated with it in my home, and it's still the thing of like, Well, if you don't have cream right onions, you might as well cancel the whole events like it's useless. You know, people just have strong traditions

that are important to them, whether or not. They're associated with their religious heritage, Right? Families have culture, right? Each family has its own culture. And, you know, if you happen to be in, ah, Hindu family, that culture has religious orientation around that. Or if you happen to be in a Jewish family, that colors the culture of your family. But again, it really varies from family to family in a dramatic way. And so I try. Thio help people to understand that if they're having conflict often, it's not about religious difference. It's not about theology. It's not about, you know, whether there was a physical resurrection or not. It's more about whether to put the fried onions on the green bean casserole or not, right? Yeah, out of my house. And the answer is yes to that guys, By the way, let's be clear. I don't care what you do in the workshop. Those onions better beyond those beans. Well, we have some

questions from our listeners. We're going to take a break when we come back. We're gonna throw you some curveballs that our listeners are dealing with right now. Amy, choosing between what's best for your baby and what's best for your wallet. Never been my strong suit. Not so easy. No, I recall spending more of my infant daughter's Easter outfit than I did on my own. I mean, we got cute pictures, but still, luckily, hello, Bello is here. Toe. Lighten the load on your bank account by offering premium baby products at affordable prices. Hello, bellows Diaper Bundling service lets you choose from over 20 different fund rotating designs. Each bundle comes with seven packs of diapers, four packs of plant based wipes and a special freebie with your first order. Oh, guys, thoughts and prayers to all of you still dealing with diapers. I do not miss those days. If you go to hell, Abello dot com slash laughing, you'll get 25% off your diaper bundle order. That's a huge bang for your buck and a lot of potential blowouts saved. That's hello. Bellow dot com slash laughing to start bundling with 25% off your order, plus, get 15%

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80 laughing and use the code 80 laughing to get $80 off, including free shipping. Oh, you heard us. That's $80 off when you goto. Hello. Fresh dot com slash 80 laughing and use the code 80 laughing. Okay, so we went to our Facebook page, facebook dot com forward slash what fresh hell cast, and we asked our listeners to tell us if you're part of an interfaith family. What are some of the great parts and paying points of having an interfaith family at the holidays? And I wanted to ask you, Susan, for some advice on behalf of these listeners. So Elizabeth says, if interfaith families don't ratchet up the pressure for perfection times to, I don't know what does. The very question of two tree or not to tree starts off the holiday season with the bank. How does one pushback on perfection times two on doing two different traditions to the end degree? This is a great question. There's a huge amount of burnout among interfaith families around December, because if

there are Jewish and a Christian interfaith family, you do have these two important holidays Hanukkah less important in the Jewish calendar than Christmas. But it's become very important culturally in America, partly because of its proximity to Christmas. So there's this'll this danger of really burning out of overwhelming your kids with mountains of presence for both holidays because there's some kind of competition that's not a good thing. I recommend a couple of things one is to be aware of, which are the most important religious holidays in each of the religions in your family. And so you know, in Judaism it's really important for parents to pass down the importance of Passover of the high holy days in the fall. And maybe you let the presence be at Christmas and not

pile on twice as many presents with Hanukkah and Christmas. And there's a fear among parents that therefore Christianity will win because presence and I don't find that that's the case looking at, you know, I've been following interfaith kids from a very young age to adulthood. Now my kids are 26 23 and we raised them with both religions, and a beautiful thing happened this week. They're both out of the house and independently. Each of thumb contacted me and said, Do you have a spare Minera because my house of friends that I live with now wants to do Hanukkah with us with me and they are now in charge of making Hanukkah happen in these interfaith households that they live in. So Hanukkah ended up important to each of them, even though we did mainly the presence where a Christmas. So that's one piece of advice. That's

something that we talk a lot about on the podcast, and we speak to a lot of parents who have very, very young kids. They're just starting this journey, my kids air ating up and Amy's kids or teenagers. So we kind of sometimes call ourselves the voice of the future. You know, like this is where this is heading guys on. One thing that we talk a lot about in that context is this is a marathon. This is a long game, and I think often, you know, as parents, we get locked into these kind of minute by minute details, which is like Christmas is running with the presence, and the High Holy Days aren't is interesting somehow. And what happens in the long run is that those memories air altogether for kids, and I think that's something that it's kind of hard to see and whether it's religious tradition or whether it's like I had some good days or it's a bad days. That's what life is. It's a big picture, and that's I think what your kids will take out of it. And that's a really good thing to remember, as you think about sometimes the heaviness of what seems like these minute decisions, and there's

going to be lapses that you can't do everything nobody does. For instance, in the years when Hanukkah and Christmas actually collide and overlap, that's very overwhelming. This year. We're lucky because Hanukkah is kind of got its own space in between Thanksgiving and Christmas and it's over before Christmas. So you won't have those overlap days that it's hard to keep everything all those balls in the air when they overlap. But I think what's important to kids is that they're going to remember that one moment. You don't know when it's gonna happen. You can't control when it's gonna happen. You know that moment that they're going to remember. But if there say lighting Hanukkah candles and the families there and they're singing together and if you pull that off even once during Hanukkah season, they'll remember it. And if there's a night when everything gets messed up and you don't end up lighting the candles. They're not going to remember that. They're going to remember the night that you did like, Hm, That's the chip I wish we could

give to. People who worry about this is like they're going to remember the night you lived. Um, I have ah related Christmas Hanukkah question from a listener, Sarah, and she just moved from a community that is almost all Jewish and where her kids were in Jewish preschool to a community where her kid is now the only non Christian in the class. And she's tried to sort of introduced Hanukkah into their holiday discussions. But her kid has gone, you know, from a diverse sort of all religions are presented place to a very all Christmas, all the time kind of place and her kids at the age where they're kind of too young to understand. Yeah, there are things that happened at Christmas that we don't take part in which I think is a hard message for a two year old or a five year old to understand. How do you recommend that interfaith families handle it when the interfaith thing is our faith is this, but the community surrounding us is that, yes, that is hard. It is harder, and there are going to be

times when your child feels sad and alienated. But there's also going to be a period, probably later, when they feel pride when they feel you know the underdog is very compelling, right? And I think young people today take pride in all of their diversity and all of the differences, and you have to have confidence that your child will grow into that eventually. And in the meantime, there's a lot of logistical, practical things you have to negotiate. My father used to talk about things, building your character right. It builds your character to be a minority in whatever way. In whatever culture that you're in, it makes you stronger. Play the long game. In other words, yeah, and do you think, Is there a way toe let traditions in because it seems to me that the traditions or one thing the religion is something else. Like, we have a listener named Katie, who says that she is raising her kids in the Jewish faith. But they also have the

tree and the cookies and presence and for her family it works to blend and do the compromise that way. One religion and one set of cultural expectations. Sure, that works. That can work. I mean, part of the point of my workbook is that no one pathway works for all interfaith families. It really depends on who you are. Who, your spouses, who your extended family is, what communities are available in your geographic area. Because, you know, as we were just saying with the other listener, it really makes a difference whether you're living in a diverse neighborhood or you're not our listener. Elizabeth. She's paraphrasing you, Margaret. She says, if you've met one interfaith family, you've met one interfaith family. Yeah. So if it works for you, then sure, you could do that. Sure. So different interfaith families make different decisions For some, it's gonna work well that you have one religious identity for your Children. One affiliation. But you can celebrate holidays from the other religion in a

secular way. For instance, the trees And, you know, maybe Santa, but not the crash, not Jesus. For other families, they're going to want to do both and teach the religious content of both, and that's something that in earlier generations nobody thought that was even possible. But there's a lot of families doing it now, and in some families it's going to be secular. For both religions. They're not going to do religious content from either. But they're going to continue to practice those family traditions from both and in other families. They may not want to do any of it. So you know, there's a huge variation of what's going on right now with interfaith families, and there's no one pathway. That's right. What I say is that each pathway you pick is gonna have benefits, and it's going to have drawbacks. There is no pathway that's going to completely fix your interfaith family because it's not broken in the first place. But there's no one pathway that's gonna work

for everybody. So you can't really say this works for us and therefore it will work for you because you don't know what other people's families are going through. And I think the crux of that is something that people skip. I skip it all the time. I talk about it all the time with budget, right, like why would I want to make a budget. It's just going to reveal that I don't have enough money, you know, like that feeling of I don't wanna have this conversation because I'm going thio. It's not gonna work out and we talk about in Catholicism. There's the tradition of pre Qena where you go and you have this conversation with a priest. But the conversation is basically between you and your spouse to be. What do you want? What are your values? How would you handle money? How do you and I went into it like, Oh stupid thing, I have to Dio and my husband, luckily went into it, who was not Catholic at the time, came into and said, Let's make the most of this if we have to go do it. And it was such a useful exercise to really sit down and say, Let's just ask these questions

, and if we don't match up and if there are friction points, we can deal with those things. But if we pretend there's no friction points and put our heads in the sand, that's going to be significantly worse. Exactly, yes, that tradition and Catholicism's of being forced to go and talk about all of this before. Marriage is one of my many favorite things about Catholicism that I think all religions should adopt. All people should adopt, And that was another thing that I had in mind when I wrote this workbook. But it's also helpful for families at other points. So if you missed doing it before getting married, it's not too late. And you may find yourself with three kids with three different opinions on what the family should be doing for their religious traditions and at Christmas and Hanukkah. And you can actually go through the workbook at that point and involve your kids and listen to them. Because once kids air like five or eight, they have strong opinions on these things

. And as parents, we don't really get to choose what their religious identity is. All we get to choose is the education that we give them, and so I think it's important that we recognize that they have their own feelings about these things. After a certain age, this leads me to, ah question we have from a listener named Amanda who says she's pretty conservative and active Christian that married an atheist and he is completely supportive of her beliefs and values. But when it comes to weekly church attendance, she goes, he doesn't. He might go once in a while to please her, but he doesn't go. They have several Children. She has five kids, and of course, she's going to church. Dad doesn't go to church, and it's getting to be a harder sell. The kids wanna, you know, stay home with that instead of going to church. So how do you handle it when sort of one parent is observant and wants the kids to be observant and the other parent is not undermining that, but just not participating in that tradition? Yes

, this is becoming really common. In fact, I just reviewed a memoir by a Christian woman married to a man who's no longer practicing. And it can be very lonely if you feel like you're doing all the work and trying to pull the kids along and your spouse is not. But also we have to recognize that kids rebel pretty early, often from whatever religious indoctrination you're giving them, and it's not necessarily the fault of your spouse. I mean, there's a lot of families where both families air going together to church or to synagogue, and the kids start rebelling and saying, We have better things to do. This is stupid, We don't want to be there. And religious education programs have been struggling for generations to try to make it. You know, we're engaging more participatory, fun, religious. That right? I mean, it exists, but it's somewhat rare to challenge. Yeah, yeah, so But again, there may be issues

with the couple in terms of the balance of work, the balance of, you know, childcare, the balance of a lot of other things that aren't necessarily a religious difference per se. But ultimately you have to allow your partner to be honest with your Children about what their beliefs and practices are. And you have to understand that you don't get to control how your Children end up just because you are the one who practices a religion and your spouse doesn't. You don't know how your kids are gonna end up and none of us end up until we die. We continue to change. We dis affiliate, we re affiliate. We discover, you know, a new church, a new practice. We begin Buddhist meditation, and your parents don't control any of that. Ultimately, I have, ah, question that is an offshoot of this question, and I'm gonna bring it up right after this break. By now you've heard us talk about pros. We're huge fans of the world's most personalized hair care. I've been using pros for

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by going to story worth dot com slash what fresh hell, you'll get $10 off your first purchase that story worth dot com slash What fresh hell for $10 off. Okay, so here's one thing that I think about with this, even in my non interfaith. My just inter human marriage is that often I'm going to speak in generalities. It is the mom of the households, or it is just one partner in the household who is driving almost all the activity around the holidays. There is one head elf in this household, and it is me. And so it can be difficulty. When my husband introduces information like, Well, why don't we have ah, blank and my head explodes and I'm like, I've already spent all this time, you know, decking the halls and making merry. And if you want to do that, I guess you have to do it. But it's not his instinct to do it. And that seems to me even more complicated

in an interfaith situation where people are bringing different traditions and the person who's kind of driving the train has toe also somehow get onboard traditions that are not their own. Yes, that is something that a lot of people experience. It's really important to dissect out gender roles. And, you know, the tradition of who does the baking who does taking the kids to Sunday school, all of that from the interfaith family issues. You mean like, take them a separate issues? Yeah, because you know, if you have a woman who feels she has to do all the work around the holidays, that's an issue. And it's separate from which religion she is. Which religion her husband is, you know, which is demonstrated by the fact that you're bringing this up, is something that happens in your own household, which isn't even interfaith. So I want to be very careful not to blame on the Interfaith state, an issue that is really more about

gender roles, E think it does compound. It can create resentment when the woman in a family is expected. Thio carry the weight of passing on a religion that's not even hers. You know, if the family chooses the religion of the husband to give to the Children as their religious identity, then yeah, he needs to step up and, you know, be part of the process for passing down those traditions, for sure. I think that's interesting that it may be heavier, but it's the fundamental problem is not an interfaith problem. It's a roles in the family problem that needs to be solved. Yeah, and all of that becomes very fraught around the holidays. E mean everything becomes fraught around the holidays like where I parked at the shopping mall becomes fraud around the holidays and especially these holidays. And it's yes, it's doubly fraud right now in the pandemic. I mean, I just put on a full Thanksgiving

dinner, which I had never had to do in my entire life because we did it in an extended family where everybody brought dishes but because of the pandemic. We're in this tiny bubble with just my daughter and her boyfriend and so I had to make the mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, the cranberry sauce, the everything and my daughter's vegan. Oh, so I made it all vegan, so that was crazy. So the pandemic iss making it harder? It's making it. You really have to think about simplifying. You really have to give yourself a break and not try to do everything because you can't do everything without community because we don't have community right now that we can engage within a physical manner. Can we talk about you brought it up in our first segment when you are entering a family and you may be having extended family who either doesn't approve of your faith tradition or softer than that

just doesn't get it is a little wary of that when you are the sort of emissary of your faith in your spouses. Extended family. Can you talk about some of the issues that come up there and how to make that easier? Yes, I like to reframe this, as you said, an emissary as being an interfaith ambassador. Being an interfaith teacher, you are going to be called on to teach your own religion to your partners, family and to teach your partner's religion to your own family, so you have both of those roles, and you need to understand your partner's religion deeply enough that you can responsibly explain it to your own family. So what's part of what's really important here is educating yourself and your partner and your extended family actually reading books. You know, don't just rely on them what they told you, but do some research. You know it's good for your brain. It will expand your knowledge

, and it will make you a more responsible teacher and ambassador because you're going to be thrust into that role. You don't really have a choice about it. You are going to be mediating between you know, these extended families, but so try to take pride in it and take it seriously and do the research, and that's going to help the other thing again. It's the empathy. So find ways you may not approve of your partners extended families, religion if they are, say, you know, very orthodox or conservative. But you could still really appreciate, say, learning to make some dishes with your partners grandmother or learning some songs from them. These airways that you can make them feel honored, make them feel appreciated, make them feel less fearful about the loss of their culture, which is really the baseline fear. I think we call this finding access points right and even in again, interfaith and what we're learning. I feel like

in this conversation, if this is true for everybody, because as we keep saying, I'm not in an interfaith family and it all resonates that finding access points with people if you go in with that mindset of okay, this family operates different than my family of origin, and I don't understand their traditions. And I feel like a fish out of water here that what are the look for the connection points rather than keeping your like, careful catalog of everything they do that is absolutely wrong and terrible? It's just a easier way to spend time with other human beings, right? And rather than feeling like a fish out of water, try to convince yourself that this is an opportunity for learning for growth, for challenging your own mindset and context, All of which is going to be a growth experience. If you were to try to bring together these two traditions without fear, without fears, maybe the wrong word, but just sort of thinking the other is something to be kept at bay a little bit. What if you're the person trying to help your spouse

become part of the family? So one key to this is that it is really important that you stand with your partner and not sort of go back and forth between the family team you grew up in and your partner, and then your partner starts feeling insecure and undermined. So in the journal, part of the aim of this is to help the two of you to develop a plan that you've agreed on. That you stand together, that you've made these decisions and then you go out to extended family and say, Okay, here's what we're doing. We need you to respect it. Here's the boundaries we've drawn. You know, we're going to raise Children this way. We're gonna put them in this kind of school, and you all have to just deal with it. But it's important to stand with your partner here And what a minister that I worked with talks about drawing a sacred circle around the couple and that you have

to be strong in that circle and then it helps you to go out with confidence to the rest of the family. Whether they approve of what you're doing or not on some level is irrelevant. I mean, you want them as community, you want them as support. You want them to interact with your Children or future Children. There are cases where people end up cutting themselves off from extended family if it's too toxic. We all know these cases and again, it's not necessarily over the issues of religion. But it's not 100% of the time that you're going to be able to bring all of the extended family along with you on this journey. Ideally, you're going to that's right. And another non interfaith parallel that we talk about all the time now is coronavirus and protocols and how we deal with that and it's the same process, right? We've done our own research. We have sat as a family and made a decision, and we have kind of set a circle around us about what our decisions are in this situation and that it is

hard for people and we acknowledge that it can be really hard for people when people are like you're so uptight. I don't understand why you're doing it this way. It hurts us that you we don't see you, but that practice of drawing that circle and really making just loving, calm research decisions within it. And then it doesn't necessarily have to be fault lines and emote and arrows and war lines heading out. But it's like this is where we stand. And I think this step we skip sometimes is taking the time to draw that line. That sacred circle. I like that image a lot and say this is what we stand for because I think it actually cuts down on the conflict because you're not having conversations every single time about like is there gonna be a tree? Is there going to be this tradition? Are we going to wear this? And it's just this is where we stand and we don't need to have conflict 100 times a day. Thes there are boundaries and now we approach you with love and the boundaries are what they are Exactly

. And, you know, with the pandemic, we're gonna come out on the other side, so we're all looking forward to not having a have that topic to conflict over. But even with interfaith families, there's always hope for a future. I've seen a lot of cases where extended family is, you know, very problematic, very against the family when they first get together and then after grandchildren are born. There's a magical transformation where everybody seems to start getting along better because the grand parents really want access to those grandchildren. Because who can resist a chubby baby? Come on. Yeah, so there's always hope. Even in a pandemic, There's always hope. Yeah, we'll take a positive message. We can get it. So, Susan, tell us where we can find you and tell us about the Interfaith Family Journal. Yes, you can find me at Susan Katz miller dot com, and I'm on Twitter. Susan Katz Miller. Both of the books air for sale on Amazon and everywhere

else. The first book is called being Both Embracing Two religions in One interfaith family. And it's primarily about that pathway where you do both religions, which is not everybody. But it's an interesting read, and the second book is the interfaith family journal, and it's really for everybody. I even have a friend who did it by himself. His partner didn't want to do it with him, and he still found it really useful. So take a look. I think this book is fantastic. I found it so fascinating to look through this and think about as you said, my own interfaith family to Catholics with a very different Catholic upbringing and what we hold dear, I had a lot to think about it. So I really loved it. Thank you for reading it. Susan. Thanks so much for joining us today. We really enjoyed this conversation. Thanks, Susan. Okay, Happy everything. Happy everything, guys.

Fresh Take: Susan Katz Miller on Interfaith Families at the Holidays
Fresh Take: Susan Katz Miller on Interfaith Families at the Holidays
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