If you are new to being in a mixed-faith family, seeing the differences between the believing members of the family and the non-believing members can be unexpected and painful.
For example, next Sunday is Father’s Day, and you have always spent Father’s Day at church as a family, fulfilling callings and having the Young Women/Men distribute treats for Father’s Day. But what if dad no longer participates in church? That can feel quite different for all members of the family.
Especially if, rather than go to church, for his special day, Dad was hoping the family could go see the new Top Gun movie and then enjoy dinner at his favorite restaurant or a peaceful walk on the beach at sunset.
How do you handle this seeming’ mismatch between the believers’ traditional Father’s Day and the non-believing father’s wishes for Father’s Day?
It really doesn’t have to be a mismatch, there are many options for both believers and non-believers.
With a little creativity, we can find choices and make decisions that don’t have to be all or nothing propositions, with “winners” and “losers”. When a family wants to feel loved and connected, there are many ways to achieve this.
Perhaps you could sit down together before Father’s Day and work out what is important to your family. If dad no longer attends church, some family members may want to stay home with him, while others may want to attend Sacrament meeting and then go do things with dad as a family. Some may want to celebrate Father’s Day on Saturday so those who want to attend Sunday services can, while Dad does something he’s been wanting to do on his own.
For those new to being a mixed-faith family, I offer the following 4 suggestions:
o Plan ahead
o Decide what’s most important to each member of the family
o Decide that there will be options where everyone “wins”
o Put family connections ahead of being “right”
You can use this formula for so many family situations, and every time you practice loving and connecting with each other as a family, decisions get easier.
For our family, there hasn’t been just one “right” way. Some years we make plans to celebrate Father’s Day on the Saturday before. Some years I have gone to Sacrament meeting and then come home early to spend the day doing what Lee (my husband) wants to do on his special day, which has occasionally included going out to dinner. For our family, eating out wasn’t a normal Sunday activity. Now it happens occasionally, and I feel that this is a choice that is aligned with my priorities, and what is most important to me.
Each year I take a solo retreat for a day or two, and I go over my values and priorities – because they change slightly from year to year. When I know that my relationship with God is my first priority, and that my relationship with my husband is my next priority, and my participation at church is down my list a little ways, I know what I value most and can evaluate nearly every choice almost instantly, so what I choose to do is inline with my values and top priorities.
Speaking of personal values, do you know what your values and priorities are? Perhaps now is a good time to review them again? I’ve been working on a worksheet that helps us identify values and priorities, and I would be happy to share it with you.
I hope this information is helpful to you. If you have specific questions or thoughts that you would like to get feedback on, or if you would like a copy of my Values & Priorities worksheet, please feel free to contact me.