The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Teens & parents: Does religion help?

Mothers and fathers in religiously involved U.S. families with early adolescents (ages 12 to 14) are more likely to have significantly stronger relationships than families that aren't religiously active. These and other findings were released by sociologists with the National Study of Youth and Religion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The report examined associations between three dimensions of family religious involvement (number of days the family does something religious, parental worship attendance and parental prayer) and the quality of the relationship between the teens' mothers and fathers.

The teens were asked such questions as whether their mothers and fathers express love for each other, encourage each other, insult each other or scream at each other. Of youth from families that do something religious five to seven days per week:

• 59 percent say their mother "always" encourages their father to do something important to him.

• 56 percent say their father "always" encourages their mother.

• 40 percent say their mother "never" yells at their father when angry.

• 53 percent say their father "never" screams at their mother.

But of youth from families that aren't religiously active:

• 34 percent report having an encouraging mother.

• 37 percent report having an encouraging father.

• 29 percent say their mother never yells.

• Less than four out of 10 report that their father never screams.

The report is part of a four-year research project that continues until 2005. Find the report at www.youthandreligion.org.


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Embracing diversity