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Religious differences? Focus on a solid parenting plan

Every parent truly has their children's best interests at heart when it comes to discussing how to raise them. Unfortunately, not all parents agree on what is or isn't acceptable. Parents with different religions may have conflicts over in which religion to bring their children up.

This difference in opinion can be intensified by a divorce. You may think it's fine to raise your child in your own religion when they're in your custody, but the other parent may not agree. If you find yourself conflicted, then it's important to address this possible problem in your parenting plan.

How can you resolve a religious conflict?

The first thing to look at is who has legal custody. Legal custody gives a parent a right to decide on the way a child is raised, the medical care they receive and other important decisions. If you both have legal custody, then you'll need to discuss religion carefully with one another, so that you know what you expect and can avoid conflicts.

For example, if one parent is an atheist and the other is Catholic, the Catholic parent may scoff at the idea of not introducing religion early in the child's life, while the atheistic parent may argue that no religion is necessary.

In this case, there are usually three options. The first is to raise the child atheistic. The second is to raise the child Catholic. The third is to raise the child with an understanding of both parents' perspectives.

One thing most people are able to agree on is exposure versus indoctrination. With exposure, you're giving a child the tools and information needed to explore religions freely. They're able to choose what they do or do not believe. On the other hand, indoctrination means that they're participating in rituals and activities specific to a religion, which one parent may not be comfortable with. You may both want to discuss the level of exposure you believe is acceptable.

Other parents find success in keeping religion out of their children's lives until they're older and able to have a say in what they believe or do. Sometimes, educating them and allowing them to choose their religious path resolves the dispute without either parent having to fight with the other.

No two situations are alike, and you may struggle to think of your child growing up differently than you did. Your attorney can help you as you work toward a fair parenting plan for your child.

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