DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: I was raised Catholic and my wife is Jewish. We’ve always respected each other’s faiths and through the years, including before our son was born, attended each other’s religious services and have taken classes on each other’s faith together.
We have continued this practice of inclusion with our son, who at almost eight knows more about two religions than most children know about one by that age.
If only our parents could be as open and accepting. My wife’s father is mostly okay with his daughter having married outside the faith, but my mother-in-law, like both my mother and father, have never really forgiven us.
When it was just my wife and me, it was not so bad. We could shrug it off. However now that our son is old enough to pick up on some of the tension, especially around the holidays, my wife and I are not very happy with how our parents are behaving.
My mother refuses to come to our house during Hanukkah, when we have a menorah on display and do the candle lighting prayers, and the same is the case for my in-laws when we invite them over for Christmas Eve dinner with my family.
Our son asked me why his grandmothers don’t like each other and why they get mad when we tell them Happy Hanukkah or Merry Christmas when they come to our house at those times. And we face the same childishness in the spring for Passover and Easter.
Neither my wife nor I want to disrespect our parents, but we’re both as frustrated as hell at them for not being able to be grown-ups.
How do we make them see what they’re doing is confusing their grandson and taking away some of the joy from what’s supposed to be a time of family and celebration? --- MISSING THE SPIRIT OF THE HOLIDAYS
DEAR MISSING THE SPIRIT OF THE HOLIDAYS: That you and your wife have found ways to successfully incorporate celebrations of the holidays of your different faiths is wonderful. I agree it’s a shame your grandson’s grandparents can’t make the attempt to meet you in the middle ground you’ve made.
It’s possible the only way you’ll be able to persuade them that their stubbornness is a problem is by telling them outright that it upsets their grandson. After all these years, though, I wouldn’t be too optimistic about their putting their feelings aside for the sake of their grandson.
If his home is a battlefield for unbending adults, then it might be best if you get together with each set of grandparents separately, on their individual turfs during the holidays, and keep your own home the sanctuary for understanding and acceptance you and your wife have worked to create.