By now you've heard the news — Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have parted ways. Their split is the story of tabloid dreams because, let's face it, Americans love to watch as a power couple crumbles. For whatever reason, we find it disturbingly reassuring when even mega-riches and uber-celebrity cannot safeguard the superstars among us from life's inevitable failures.
The TomKat Split and the Church of Scientology
Cruise's devotion to Scientology, the controversial, modern-day religion (ahem, cult), has been cited as the primary motivation behind the sudden divorce. Apparently, Cruise wanted to send 6-year-old Suri literally out to sea to learn the ways of Scientology, and Katie — who has since enrolled her daughter in a private Catholic school — wanted none of it.
Rumors? Maybe...after all, this is Hollywood we're talking about. But whether Scientology was the sole reason for the breakup or simply the straw that broke the camel's back, Tom and Katie's religious differences clearly contributed to the rift. The L.A. Times has reported that:
"Though all aspects of the Cruise-Holmes divorce settlement are confidential, a source told L.A. Now that the role of Scientology in Suri's upbringing was a key part of the couple's negotiations."
In the end, TomKat wasn't doomed by the trappings of wealth or fame, but rather by a struggle that plagues parents from all walks of life — the disagreement over how to best raise a child.
Interfaith Parenting: Tips for Making It Work
There will always be moments of disagreement in parenting, and interfaith parenting often requires even greater commitment to communication and compromise. If we learn nothing else from the TomKat split, it's just how hard it can be for interfaith couples to parent together.
Tips for successfully raising children in a dual-religion household include:
1. Discuss It Early
Don't wait to discuss your religious differences with your partner — ideally, you need to talk about your beliefs early in your relationship. Discuss the role you envision your faith playing in the lives of your future children, and be certain that you both are willing to compromise.
2. Revisit It Frequently
People and circumstances change over time. You may have agreed to raise your children as Catholics (or, um, Scientologists) before they were born, but find that you feel differently once you actually have a baby in your arms. Keep the lines of communication open, and know that nothing is ever set in stone.
3. Ignore the Grandparents
Grandparents are notoriously vocal when it comes to sharing their feelings about baptisms, communion classes, and just about every other aspect of your child's upbringing. But remember, opinions are just that — opinions. Prioritizing grandparents' wishes over those of your partner or spouse can only spell trouble in the long run.
4. Involve the Children
Talk openly with your children about why you hold the beliefs you do, and encourage your partner to do the same. You might even consider allowing your kids to decide which religion feels right for them when they reach an appropriate age.
5. Know When to Walk
Unfortunately, in rare situations, the need to protect you child may trump the need to preserve your relationship. If you sincerely believe your partner's religious beliefs are potentially harmful, it may be time to follow Katie's lead.
What do you think of the TomKat split? Was Scientology to blame, or do you think the couple had bigger issues?