Talking about Islamic Terrorism

ismlamic terroristDear Mr. Dad: What happened in Paris last week has me shocked, upset, and frightened. The death and destruction are hard enough for my wife and me to grasp and to explain to our children, ages 7 and 10. But it’s getting increasingly difficult to answer their questions about Islam and to keep them from demonizing Muslims. We tried avoiding the issue, but that’s not working anymore. How can we talk to our children about terrorism and Muslims without slipping into stereotyping?

A: What a great question—one I’ve struggled with for a long time, and continue to do so—and the answer is anything but simple. As a parent, I think it’s incredibly important to teach our children about tolerance and diversity and to discourage them from making blanket statements about large groups of people who have similar characteristics, whether those characteristics are based on gender, politics, personal beliefs, sexual orientation, geography, religion, or anything else. At the same time, I firmly believe that it’s impossible to deal with a problem unless we honestly acknowledge what it is. And here’s where things get tough.

There are more than 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. Most are undoubtedly peace-loving people who have no desire to kill anyone. But how do we make sense of the fact that so many of the world’s conflicts, involve Islamic armies and terrorist groups? How do we make sense of the nearly daily murderous attacks proudly acknowledged by people who claim that their particular brand of Islam gives them the right to kill Christians, Jews, atheists, other Muslims, or anyone else who doesn’t believe what they do? And how do we keep from stereotyping Muslim countries or groups where people hand out candy and celebrate terrorist acts, openly advocate murdering “infidels,” or name streets and parks after suicide bombers who kill innocent civilians?

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Interfaith Marriages: There Is Hope

Dear Mr. Dad: My husband and I are in a religiously mixed marriage. Before we had kids, it wasn’t an issue and we usually just did our own thing. But ever since our daughter was born, everything seems a lot more complicated. Each of us is committed to our own religion and to our marriage. How are we supposed to raise our children?

Well, there’s good news and bad. The good news is that you’re not alone. Before getting married, fewer than half of interfaith couples discuss the religious upbringing they plan to give their kids, and 80 percent say that having “the same values” is more important than having the same religion, according to Naomi Schaefer Riley, author of “’Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage Is Transforming America.” Interfaith marriages are getting more and more common. Back in the 1960s, only 19% of marriages were interfaith, according to a new Pew Research Center report. But among couples who married since 2010, 39% say their spouse is of a different religion (and 49% of cohabiting couples are in interfaith relationships).

The bad news is that, according to Schaefer Riley, interfaith couples are significantly less satisfied than same-faith couples, and that the more religiously active spouse is usually the unhappiest one.

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How Believers and Non-Believers Can Create Strong Marriages


Dale McGowan, author of In Faith and In Doubt.
Topic:
How religious believers and nonbelievers can create strong marriages and loving families.
Issues: Negotiation tips to set the stage for harmonious relationships; dealing with pressure from extended family; helping kids make their own choices about religious identity; handling holidays, churchgoing, baptism, circumcision, religious literacy.

Successful Co-Parenting + In Faith and In Doubt


Karen Bonnell, author of The Co-Parents’ Handbook.
Topic:
Raising well-adjusted, resilient, and resourceful kids in a two-home family
Issues: Building a mutually respectful co-parenting relationship; keeping children at the forefront while protecting them from adult conflict and concerns; helping children build resilience and competence in the face of family change; successful strategies and protocols for living in a two-home family.




Dale McGowan, author of In Faith and In Doubt.
Topic:
How religious believers and nonbelievers can create strong marriages and loving families.
Issues: Negotiation tips to set the stage for harmonious relationships; dealing with pressure from extended family; helping kids make their own choices about religious identity; handling holidays, churchgoing, baptism, circumcision, religious literacy.

Embracing Two Religions

[amazon asin=0807013196&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Susan Katz Miller, author of Being Both.
Topic:
Embracing two religions in one interfaith family
Issues: The growing phenomenon of dual-faith relationships; debunking the myth that raising children with two religions confuses children; the benefits of learning two faiths; how the interfaith experience enriches children, makes them more tolerant, encourages them to ask meaningful questions, and sparks creative thinking.

Interfaith Families + Army Reserve Family Programs

[amazon asin=0807013196&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Susan Katz Miller, author of Being Both.
Topic:
Embracing two religions in one interfaith family
Issues: The growing phenomenon of dual-faith relationships; debunking the myth that raising children with two religions confuses children; the benefits of learning two faiths; how the interfaith experience enriches children, makes them more tolerant, encourages them to ask meaningful questions, and sparks creative thinking.


Brigadier General Tammy Smith, Director of Human Capital Core for the U. S. Army Reserve, talks about Army Reserve Family Programs