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The Experience of Being in a Multireligious Family

Apr 17, 2024 | Religion | 0 comments

In the midst of Ramadan, a routine check-in with my friend, Ifeoluwa (24), evolved into a profound therapy session where he shared his experiences of childhood trauma stemming from his upbringing in a blended family.

Growing up, Ifeoluwa found himself caught between two worlds. His mother hailed from a devout Muslim background, while his father, originally practicing traditional beliefs, converted to Christianity upon marriage. The clash of religious identities within his family dynamic created a complex and challenging environment.

From the outset, Ifeoluwa noticed the strain on his mother as she faced ostracization from her Muslim relatives due to her conversion. This strain escalated over the years, manifesting in various forms of discrimination and exclusion directed not only at his mother but also at him and his siblings.

Ifeoluwa vividly recalls instances where he felt the sting of religious division most acutely. During Eid celebrations, he and his siblings were denied the customary new clothes for the occasion, a gesture extended to their cousins, simply because they didn’t share the same religious practices. Such experiences left him feeling isolated and marginalised within his family circle.

Similarly, at family events such as weddings, the clash between religious customs became glaringly evident when his father’s inadvertent actions, such as bringing alcohol, led to disapproving glances and social ostracization. These incidents further entrenched the sense of being the “black sheep” within his extended family.

Despite the challenges from his maternal relatives, Ifeoluwa found solace and acceptance in his father’s Christian family, where he experienced warmth and inclusivity devoid of religious bias. However, the longing for acceptance and connection with his mother’s side remained palpable.

Reflecting on his experiences, Ifeoluwa acknowledges the complexity of religious dynamics and the presence of extremists in every faith. While he navigates with caution around certain religious practices, he also endeavours to bridge the gap by showing understanding and respect for his Muslim friends’ beliefs, often going the extra mile to accommodate their traditions during Ramadan and beyond.

Despite the scars left by childhood experiences, Ifeoluwa remains hopeful for reconciliation and acceptance from his maternal relatives, yearning for the day when religious differences will no longer serve as barriers to familial bonds.

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