Apr 282014
 
 April 28, 2014  Parenting and Faith

Spiritual education is a keystone of how I am raising my sons, and I am always inspired to hear how other parents are working to raise their children along a spiritual path. In the series Parenting and Faith I feature posts from bloggers discussing how their religion or philosophy influences their parenting. I am so pleased to share today’s post, which comes to us from Jennifer of American Mom in Bordeaux, a fellow member of Multicultural Kid Blogs.

Finding a Spiritual Home in France

 

This post is piece for the Parenting & Faith Series at All Done Monkey blog.  When I signed up months ago, it sounded easy but as I am writing this post now, it’s more difficult and complicated that I thought it would be.  Religion and faith are very personal topics and everyone has their own opinion of what is right for them and what religion means. I feel our experiences as children (how we were raised by our own parents) often molds our own views – positive and negative – about religion.  In addition, our spouse or partner adds another layer, and then, as parents, we choose how to spiritually raise our children.  For this post, I’m going to share how we are choosing to raise our girls in France.  

I am a pretty spiritual person. I believe in God (whomever he or she is) – my faith has evolved over time.  I was raised Presbyterian, going to church fairly regularly as a child.  I attended Sunday school, youth group and participated in community outreach programs helping others less fortunate.  My husband, who is French, was raised Catholic but did not regularly attend church and currently chooses to be more spiritual than religious.  When we chose to get married, the clergy in the church I had grown up in had changed and I was not feeling connected to the philosophy of the newer minister.  My husband also didn’t feel comfortable being married in this church.  So we opted for a third option/a compromise of sorts.  We had been attending a Methodist church together and enjoyed the style and philosophy of this particular church – so we were married there.  We took a bit of a break from organized churches in the first few years of our marriage but then when we were pregnant with our first daughter – I started to realize how important being part of a church family was for me.  However, I didn’t want to be preached at, I didn’t want a really formal church that was rigid in views – I knew some Protestant churches were like that.  

We learned of a Congregational Church in our town which had open, liberal views on religion.  We started attending and fell in love with this church’s openness, flexibility and welcoming of members from all religious backgrounds.   All three of our girls were baptised there.  They attended church school and we went to church “somewhat” regularly.  They were all still young when we moved to France – but they did have a sense of a community of faith and of helping others. We do miss our church community there.

Moving to France provided its own challenges with continuing to practice our religion. France is predominantly a Catholic country.  There are Protestant churches around along with places of faith for other religions but they are much fewer.  Initially, I was a bit overwhelmed by the daunting task of finding a church and also knowing that it would probably be French speaking.  As luck would have it, I learned that there was an English-speaking Anglican Church located right here in Bordeaux.  Not exactly our denomination of faith, but at least it was Protestant and I figured we would give it a try.  
 
It felt nice to be part of a church community again – nice to be welcomed into the fold and very comforting that it was all in English!  Yes, the services are a bit more formal than I am use to – but the scripture lessons are the same and Sunday school & Youth group also exist along with community outreach for the less fortunate.  For my girls, it was comforting to meet other English-speaking children.  Many families are like us – one parent French and other English-speaking.  Other families are expats looking for an English-speaking place of faith.  As many of us come from different religious backgrounds from our native countries. The minister makes everyone feel welcome.  I like this inclusive and open concept – it feels very similar to our former church in Saratoga Springs.
 
If you are counting the number of different churches I have attended – including going to Catholic mass a few times with my husband – we are presently up to 5. All have helped shape my own faith and further the faith of my children.  Another piece that is very interesting to me with living in France is that its history, many traditions, and holidays still revolve around the Catholic Church – this gives us numerous opportunities to discuss spiritually in general; the differences and similarities between our spiritual practice and that of Catholics.

 

My oldest daughter reading a scripture lesson

 

We often talk about the fact that church is a spiritual place – a place to reflect, a place to meditate and place to critically look at ourselves and learn. A place to remember that we are children of god – we were created by god as a reflection of god.  It’s a place to feel loved, protected and taken care of by god.  It’s an excellent place to learn good morals and use the stories to illustrate these to children.  We are open and accepting and I try to instill in my children that they are free to choose whatever religion they wish when they are older. We have talked about the fact that there are many different religions and beliefs and often it’s about how people were raised, but in the end it’s about choice and choosing a spiritual practice and/or religion that one is comfortable with and believes in.  We have also taught our children about meditation and we have visited a Buddhist temple and the older girls have tried short walking and sitting meditations.  

I don’t have all the answers, I find it difficult to say exactly what religion I am or which I truly practice -I find it hard to label considering my background – so it’s safer to say I’m spiritual.  I seek places of worship for a place to reflect, a place to find a spiritual community and a place to give of oneself.  I personally don’t believe there is only one place to do that – so I instill that in my children.  I hope that they take many of their lessons from church and reflect upon their own lives.  Making good decisions, knowing that god loves them and caring for themselves and others is the kind of spirituality I wish for them.  
 
In summary I hope that by raising them to appreciate others with different backgrounds and understand that there are different places to worship and practice one’s spirituality – that it will help them to be open, caring and accepting citizens of the world.  

If this post speaks to you, I would love to hear from readers about your spiritual journey and how it’s grown or changed as you raise children.

Jennifer - American Mom in BordeauxWe moved to Bordeaux, France from New York State in October 2011. We are all adjusting to the French culture..having fun living, loving & laughing each day! My blog American Mom in Bordeaux is about some of our experiences and observations from the American perspective. I love to learn about what the Bordeaux/Gironde area and the country of France has to offer and to also capture many of our experiences through writing & photography.  I started my blog initially as a way to share our new adventure with family and friends back in the States.  It has grown into a wonderful place for people to read and learn about life as an expat, the process of adjusting to a new culture and how we are raising our bilingual/bicultural children!  Most posts are family oriented but also include my love of traveling, photography and exploring.

Parenting and Faith on Alldonemonkey.com

In the series Parenting and Faith bloggers share how faith influences their parenting. You can find all the posts in this series on the main page as well as the Parenting and Faith Pinterest board.

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