7 Ways to Deal With Different Ideas About Religious Services

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It's not unusual for caregivers and the loved ones in their care to be on different religious wavelengths. How can you make the worship day a fulfilling and contentious-free one for all?

Honor your loved one's religious choices. Allow him or her to watch religious TV or listen to radio shows, to have a Menorah during the holidays, to be visited by a priest, rabbi, or other clergyperson. Faith, for many, brings comfort. So honor and support what your loved one needs.

Incorporate spirituality into your loved one's care. Sing hymns, read passages from religious texts, make the effort to attend services or have them brought to your loved one -- right through to hospice and the end of life. You don't have to join in, but you should enable; consider it part of your caregiving responsibilities.

Try alternating. Rather than either one of you giving up your faith, try taking turns. One week, go to your services. The next, take your loved one to something more familiar to him or her.

Arrange an escort. If you don't attend services or don't want to alternate, look for a member of your loved one's congregation who may be willing to pick up the person every week. Don't worry about feeling judged by your loved one or the escort -- you're doing something beneficial for your loved one and doing something that's healthful for you, too, by having a break in your caregiving duties.

If you attend the same church, try attending different Sunday school classes. Just because you spend all your time together doesn't mean you need to spend all your time together. The separation can be welcome for each of you.

Invite your loved one to say the blessing at your table. It doesn't matter what denomination or faith those gathered are, and the action may mean a lot to your loved one.

Agree to disagree. If your loved one can't help criticizing your faith practices (or lack thereof), refuse to argue or be cornered into defending your views. Faith is a personal choice, and others' beliefs simply shouldn't be criticized. If needed, use phrases like these: "Thanks for sharing your view." "I'll think about that." Realize that religious conflicts are normal within families. If you weren't disagreeing about religion, you'd probably be disagreeing about something else.

Image by Flickr user naughton321 under an Attribution-Share Alike licensing agreement.