Gay Dad Life

How Do Gay Dads Raise Kids in an Interfaith Household?

How do gay dads of different faiths choose to raise kids? The Daddy Squared guys tackle the issue in their latest episode.

How do you raise kids with dads from separate faith backgrounds? Interfaith relationships are not uncommon in the gay community, and with the 'gaybies' explosion, some couples choose to raise their kids with awareness of both partners' religious backgrounds. We spoke to Ferd and Brian, fathers, husbands, and founders of Gays With Kids about religion and faith, and building a home where both Christmas and Hannukah are celebrated, though with a clear understanding that Brian's passion to raise the kids Jewish strongly outweighs Ferd's interest in Catholicism in their home.



"We surely came by dads who have different faiths and traditions and they celebrate them both," explains Brian Rosenberg, who co-founded GaysWithKids.com with husband Ferd van Gameren, "the idea is that the children have a good understanding of the background of both religions and they will get to make their on decisions and choices when the are adults."

Having been together for almost three decades, Ferd and Brian started blending their holidays a long time ago. "We used to be more relaxed about how we spent them," Brian says. But since becoming dads, they are much more focused on celebrating holidays that hold special meaning for them. "We've been creating new traditions around these holidays that I hope will stay with our kids well into their adult lives."

Our conversation with Brian and Ferd sparked some thoughts about what kind of people, in general, find a partner with a different religious background. "When you are a single person looking for a partner and the religion is really, really important for you, I would imagine that you then primarily look for a partner in the pool of people who have the same religion as you," says Ferd.

We came out of the interview with a realization that men who marry men from other religious backgrounds are open to establish an interfaith household to begin with, just out of love and respect for their partner's heritage. Nevertheless, Brian emphasizes that religion and traditions should be something that an interfaith couple should discussed as part of the overall conversation and research prior to having kids.

"You need to talk about it upfront before you become dads [so you'll have a vision on the environment in which you raise your kids]. I think that so often in relationships, when they fall apart or where there are big challenges it's because of a lack of communication, and a subject like culture and traditions should definitely be discussed."

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Maivon Wahid, a gay Muslim single dad living in Fiji, wrote an opinion piece for Gay Star News about the challenges he's faced on his road to self acceptance.

"I feel pressure on how I am supposed to behave and how I am perceived," he wrote oh how these competing identities play out for him, day to day.

Maivon described himself as an "odd" kid, who never quite fit in--something he still relates to today as an adult. "When I enter the masjid (mosque), I am always judged and questioned," he wrote. "Sometimes it's curiosity, but sometimes it's borderline bullying." He said he found a way to be both gay and Muslim, three years ago, when he met an openly gay Imam at a conference in Australia. "It was through him I was able to first appreciate who I was, then love who I had become and celebrate it."

Being gay in Fiji, he says also makes him feel the need to hide certain parts of himself. "In Fiji, I find the need to hide so many aspects of my authentic being," he wrote.

He also wrote of complications familiar to many single gay men who became dads from previous straight relationships. He writes: "As a single parent to the most beautiful son – I was married to my ex-wife for nine years – learning to become and celebrate the person you want to be is about more than just me; it's a legacy I want to leave for him and the next generation. Although it's hard to meet like-minded people (my dating life is non-existent!), in being myself, I believe I can show others it's OK to be you, and to love whoever you want to love."

Ultimately, despite the challenges he's faced, Maivon says he has found a way to reconcile these three identities into one. "Whether you're gay, Muslim or a single parent – or all three – there is a place and space for everyone," he wrote. "I have found my place in Islam, and am comfortable being the best version of gay I can be. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise."

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The bill was sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman, an out gay man who became a father via surrogacy, and Assemblymember Amy Paulin, who has been public with her experiences with infertility.

"My husband and I had our two daughters through surrogacy," Holyman told Gay City News. "But we had to travel 3,000 miles away to California in order to do it. As a gay dad, I'm thrilled parents like us and people struggling with infertility will finally have the chance to create their own families through surrogacy here in New York."

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