Sunday, June 1, 2008


At one point yesterday during my par-tay, me, B and two of our friends were having a conversation about our religious upbringing.

Me and B both grew up super religious (Me orthodox Jewish, him Catholic), and are now both staunch Atheists. Our two friends however, are both converting to Judaism. One grew up with no religion, and got interested in Judaism after meeting her (jewish) husband's family. The other grew up catholic, later became Wiccan for a few years, and then recently found Judaism, has been dating a jewish guy (and good friend of mine) for a few years, and is in the process of an orthodox jewish conversion.

So the four of us we got to talking about our religious upbringings and how different they were. And the first friend, let's call her quiet girl was talking about how her parents never said anything about religion, except to point out how wrong it is. The second friend grew up catholic, but her mom was very open minded, and would take her to any kind of religious service if she wanted to go. When she became Wiccan she had a long conversation with her parents about what exactly that means, and later her mom brought her back a Wicca bumper sticker when she was visiting Salem MA. She's been going through the Jewish conversion for quite a while now (over a year I believe) and my impression are that her parents are supportive as well, and are interested in talking to her about religious views even if they are different from their own.

Me and B contrasted this with our own experiences, mine as described here, and B's, where his mother kicked him out of the house (at age 16) because he didn't want to get confirmed into his church (he eventually relented and went through with the confirmation, after spending 4 nights sleeping in an underpass). B's mother is a lot cooler now (and they are actually thrilled about us living together), but in between then and now there were 3 years where they did not talk, and his mom was diagnosed with a disease she will probably soon die from.

I couldn't help but wonder what life would be like in Bizarro world, where my parents/family hadn't tried to enforce their religion on me once I had made it clear that I wasn't interested in it. Or what it would be like growing up, as my children hopefully will, in a family where religion is talked about using a critical eye, and does not permeate every part of life. And where my dad wasn't crazy and controlling (something I haven't gone into in great detail here except in regards to religious stuff, but I'll just say that my teenage years were not the happiest, and that was only partially due to religion). It's a crazy concept.

I don't know if my life would be exactly the same (would I be in grad school? Would I be with B? Would I have a closer relationship with my youngest brother?) and thinking about what might have been had certain decisions and experiences turned out differently seems useless. Although that can be a fun game to play.

But I can't help but imagine what my life would be like, exactly as it is now, except without the baggage of having grown up the way I did. Recently I saw a picture of myself at around 12 or 13 years old, and I couldn't help but envy that person, who hasn't gone through the last 13 or 14 years of my life. I wouldn't take back any of those experiences, as they have turned me into the (IMO) awesome and strong person I am today. But what would life be life if only those experiences hadn't scarred me so much. I try to live as if they hadn't, but sometimes those scars just leak out a bit in the form of anxiety dreams, or in having a hard time trusting people, or in bitterness, or more recently, in this blog. I would love to be someone who only had a blog about school and cats and how awesome my boyfriend is, and I have that blog too, but I also have this one, where I can write about all the bitterness I don't want taking over that other blog.


  1. Yeah, I wouldn't know either. My parents are hippies.

  2. I'm a hippie! :lol:

    I guess everyone is hurt by their parents in some way or another. But how can i make sure to not hurt my (theoretical) kids the same way?

  3. raising kids within the framework of religion is no easy task. I was brought up Modern Orthodox, and an raising my kids modern / yeshivish / me-ish and I wonder what "harm" I may be doing in the long run. What it boils down to, I think, is that i want my kids to love who they are, to love being Jewish and what it means to THEM.

    I was once asked what would i do if one of my kids turned up one day on a Harley, tattoed up the wazoo, with a blonde chick hanging on to him. What would I do? I would love him because he is my child, i would accept him for who is, and hope that he has found his path to happiness.

    Unfortunately in the religious milieu this is an unpopular view, as thinking for oneself is frowned upon.

    Relationship with G-d is personal, and no one can ever tell you how it is supposed to feel. you do what is right for you and to heck with everyone else.

    *off soapbox*

  4. "But how can i make sure to not hurt my (theoretical) kids the same way?"
    I'd ask this question on Parenting in the other place. There are some amazing moms who had some terrible experiences as kids who may have some good answers to that question. Not naming names here, but I can think of at least three.

  5. "abandoning eden said...
    I'm a hippie! :lol:

    I guess everyone is hurt by their parents in some way or another. But how can i make sure to not hurt my (theoretical) kids the same way?"

    If you expect to make no mistakes with your children you will be disappointed. If you want to only be the permitting parent and friend to them you will then risk having children who resent what they may perceive as a lack of enough caring. Also while you may have strength the emotional baggage you have is a weakness and if you carry it over to your days as a parent they may resent that and as little ask why you have that as you have perhaps asked why your parents are as they are. In short being a parent means working from a different angle but it does not mean never making a mistake no matter how much advice you follow.


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