Well, we’re ethnically Irish/Scottish, but our daughter also went to a Jewish pre-school for 3 years and can sing the hamotzi with the best of them. We also go to the Highland Games and the St. Patrick’s Day festivities, sing lots of gaelic songs, and celebrate a pretty secularized Christmas. She knows I don’t think it likely that God exists, and she vacilates in her opinion (sometimes she’s an atheist, probably to be like Daddy, other times she admits it’s hard to imagine how the world exists if no one made it, since the competing scientific explanations are less intuitive and a bit hard to convey to a 6 year old). Some questions do come up (“If we’re not Jewish, what are we?” etc), but I just answer them the best I can and let her work through the issues of religion and identity in her own time. They are complicated, and she picks up new data and fits them into her evolving set of concepts all the time.
I guess I’m saying that I don’t think we as parents have to have all the answers or present a completely worked-out paradigm for our kids to absorb. I know lots of secular Jews who use ritual for cultural more than religious purposes, and I don’t think it has to be all that confusing to their kids. When they’re ready to understand the practice and how it differs from true religious ritual, they’ll get it and then they’ll decide what, if anything, they want it to mean for them. And I firmly belive ritual is an expression of some pretty fundamental, probably innate psychological needs. I don’t think it is automatically a bad thing, and I think contrived, de novo rituals deliberatly designed to supplant traditional ones often don’t have the resonance of practices honed as psychological theater by hundreds or thousands of years. I think it is possible to enjoy the rituals without making a commitment to everything they say or represent. And over time these practices change organically. Halloween is pretty secular, Thanksgiving is going that way, and I’ve had a pretty easy time celebrating a Jesus Light Christmas for years. I don’t see why a secular Shabbat should be too hard to continue in good conscience.