Special Issue "Religion and Family Life"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 January 2019)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Richard J. Petts

Department of Sociology, Ball State University, 2000 W. University Ave. Muncie, IN 47306, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Family; Religion; Children & Youth

Special Issue Information

The aim of this special issue is to examine how various aspects of religiosity and spirituality may facilitate positive family outcomes as well as contribute to negative family outcomes. In doing so, research in this special issue will increase our understanding of religion and family life by further considering the intersection of these influential social institutions.

Dear Colleagues,

There has been increased interest among scholars in recent decades focused on the intersection of family and religion. Yet, there is still much that is not well-understood in this area. This aim of this special issue is to further explore the influence of religion on family life. In particular, the focus of this issue is to bring together leading scholars to consider ways in which religion and spirituality may influence various aspects of family life including family processes, family structure, family formation, family dissolution, parenting, and family relationships. Scholars are encouraged to utilize various aspects of religiosity and spirituality (moving beyond religious affiliation and religious attendance) to focus on the ways in which religiosity may facilitate positive family outcomes as well as ways in which religiosity may also contribute to negative family outcomes. Research examining whether religiosity mediates or moderates family processes on other outcomes is also welcome.

Prof. Dr. Richard J. Petts
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • family
  • religion
  • religiosity
  • spirituality
  • family processes
  • family structure

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Marital Sanctification and Spiritual Intimacy Predicting Married Couples’ Observed Intimacy Skills across the Transition to Parenthood
Religions 2019, 10(3), 177; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030177
Received: 15 January 2019 / Revised: 26 February 2019 / Accepted: 28 February 2019 / Published: 11 March 2019
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Abstract
This study examined the extent to which 164 married heterosexuals’ reports of the sanctification of marriage and spiritual intimacy during pregnancy predicted the trajectory of the couples’ observed intimacy skills during late pregnancy and when their first child was 3, 6, and 12 [...] Read more.
This study examined the extent to which 164 married heterosexuals’ reports of the sanctification of marriage and spiritual intimacy during pregnancy predicted the trajectory of the couples’ observed intimacy skills during late pregnancy and when their first child was 3, 6, and 12 months old. At each time point, couples were videotaped in their homes for 10 min discussing their fears and vulnerabilities about becoming and being a new parent. Separate teams of three coders rated the four interactions and each spouse’s intimacy skills, including disclosure of feelings of vulnerability about becoming or being a new parent, and supportive comments and positive non-verbal responses to each other. Using a multi-level dyadic discrepancy approach to growth curve modeling, both husbands’ and wives’ observed intimacy skills displayed a curvilinear trajectory over the first year of parenthood, with wives consistently displaying more emotional intimacy skills than husbands. Consistent with hypotheses, higher endorsement of the sanctification of marriage and spiritual intimacy between spouses at home predicted higher observed intimacy skills across time. No variation in these associations emerged due to parent gender. Thus, this longitudinal study identifies two specific spiritual processes within marriages that may motivate spouses to share their vulnerabilities and provide one another with valuable emotional support in coping with the transition to parenthood. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Family Life)
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Open AccessArticle An Exploration of Family Factors Related to Emerging Adults’ Religious Self-Identification
Religions 2019, 10(3), 172; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030172
Received: 4 February 2019 / Revised: 3 March 2019 / Accepted: 5 March 2019 / Published: 8 March 2019
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Abstract
Emerging or young adulthood is a time of identity exploration across a number of domains. Those domains include work, relationships, and beliefs and values. Specifically, emerging adults are tasked with differentiating religious beliefs and values from those of their parents. Much evidence suggests [...] Read more.
Emerging or young adulthood is a time of identity exploration across a number of domains. Those domains include work, relationships, and beliefs and values. Specifically, emerging adults are tasked with differentiating religious beliefs and values from those of their parents. Much evidence suggests that emerging adults adopt the religious or non-religious ideals they were raised with. Family structure, parental divorce, parental marital quality and parental conflict have all been identified as factors related to degree of religiousness in emerging adulthood. It is less clear how those and other family factors may relate to types of religious identity. Using a subsample of wave 3 of the National Survey of Youth and Religion, researchers identified six types of religiousness in emerging adulthood. To our knowledge, family factors related to this typology have not been thoroughly investigated. Thus, the purpose of this qualitative study is to further explore and describe the family factors related to the six types of religiousness in emerging adulthood using a purposive sample of 49 college students from a large public university in the United States. Qualitative analyses describe themes related to five of the six types. Future directions are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Family Life)
Open AccessArticle Parent’s Just Don’t Understand: Parental Support, Religion and Depressive Symptoms among Same-Race and Interracial Relationships
Religions 2019, 10(3), 162; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030162
Received: 29 January 2019 / Revised: 27 February 2019 / Accepted: 28 February 2019 / Published: 6 March 2019
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Abstract
Research finds that individuals in interracial relationships have poorer mental health than those in same-race relationships. Family support, or lack thereof, may play an important role in explaining the psychological risks for such individuals. Growing attention has focused on the complex interplay between [...] Read more.
Research finds that individuals in interracial relationships have poorer mental health than those in same-race relationships. Family support, or lack thereof, may play an important role in explaining the psychological risks for such individuals. Growing attention has focused on the complex interplay between religion, health, and family life, particularly the stress-buffering role of religious involvement. However, little attention has been given to the possible mitigating effects of religion in the face of limited family support among same-race and interracial couples. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), this study addresses two important questions: (1) Is weak family support associated with depressive symptoms among individuals in same-race and interracial relationships?; and (2) Does religious involvement buffer the association between weak family support and depressive symptoms for individuals engaged in these romantic ties? Results suggest that weak parental support is associated with depressive symptoms for individuals in both same-race and interracial relationships, however we find limited support of religion protecting against weak parental support for individuals in interracial unions. The results highlight the complex interplay between religion, health, and family in contemporary American life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Family Life)
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Open AccessArticle Secrets and Lies: Adolescent Religiosity and Concealing Information from Parents
Religions 2019, 10(2), 132; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020132
Received: 15 January 2019 / Revised: 18 February 2019 / Accepted: 20 February 2019 / Published: 23 February 2019
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Abstract
There is very little research on the relationship between adolescent religiosity and concealing information from parents, although research on religiosity and family life is plentiful. Therefore, I used the second wave of the National Study of Youth and Religion to examine the relationship [...] Read more.
There is very little research on the relationship between adolescent religiosity and concealing information from parents, although research on religiosity and family life is plentiful. Therefore, I used the second wave of the National Study of Youth and Religion to examine the relationship between adolescent religiosity and lying to parents and keeping secrets from parents. The results suggest that adolescents who attend religious services more often are less likely to keep secrets from parents, whereas adolescents who believe that religion is important are both less likely to lie to parents and keep secrets from parents. Being spiritual, but not religious, is not related to lying to parents or keeping secrets from parents. Results also suggest that primarily alcohol use, substance using peers, and morality mediate the effect of adolescent religiosity on lying to parents and keeping secrets from parents. Adolescents who attend religious services often and believe that religion is important are less likely to use alcohol, less likely to have friends that use substances, and are more likely to believe that moral rules should not be broken, which helps to explain why they are less likely to lie to parents and keep secrets from parents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Family Life)
Open AccessArticle A Qualitative Study of Ramadan: A Month of Fasting, Family, and Faith
Religions 2019, 10(2), 123; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020123
Received: 21 January 2019 / Revised: 28 January 2019 / Accepted: 31 January 2019 / Published: 19 February 2019
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Abstract
Islam is a major world religion and the Muslim population is one of the fastest growing religious populations in the Western world, including in the United States. However, few research studies have examined the lived religious experience of U.S. Muslim families. Much of [...] Read more.
Islam is a major world religion and the Muslim population is one of the fastest growing religious populations in the Western world, including in the United States. However, few research studies have examined the lived religious experience of U.S. Muslim families. Much of the attention on Islam among researchers and the media tends to be on controversial aspects of the religion. The purpose of this paper is to examine the unique religious practice of the month-long fast of Ramadan, especially its perceived role on marital and familial relationships from an insider’s perspective. Content analysis of in-depth, qualitative interviews of twenty diverse Shia and Sunni Muslim families living in the United States (N = 47 individuals) yielded several emergent themes. This study presents and explores data on the focal theme: “fasting brings us closer together.” These data suggest that Ramadan serves a sacred, unifying, and integrating purpose for many of the 47 practicing Muslim mothers, fathers, and youth in this study. Meanings and processes involved in Ramadan and family relationships are explored and explained. Implications and applications of the research findings are discussed and some potential directions for future research are outlined. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Family Life)
Open AccessArticle Religious Activities, Christian Media Consumption and Marital Quality among Protestants
Religions 2019, 10(2), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020119
Received: 14 January 2019 / Revised: 13 February 2019 / Accepted: 13 February 2019 / Published: 18 February 2019
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Abstract
Although associations between religiosity and marital quality have been demonstrated in previous research, mechanisms still remain unclear. Three 3-step hierarchical multiple regression analyses were conducted to determine whether 10 individual, dyadic or family religious activities or uses of 7 forms of Christian media [...] Read more.
Although associations between religiosity and marital quality have been demonstrated in previous research, mechanisms still remain unclear. Three 3-step hierarchical multiple regression analyses were conducted to determine whether 10 individual, dyadic or family religious activities or uses of 7 forms of Christian media predicted positive relationship quality, negative interaction and intimate partner violence in a sample of North American Protestants. Joint spousal and family religious activities predicted higher levels of relationship quality. Individual activities, such as reading the Bible, and parent-child activities, such as praying with children and discussing Christians values with children, predicted lower levels of relationship quality. Listening to Christian talk radio and viewing Christian websites or blogs predicted lower levels of relationship quality. The authors inferred that individuals in low-quality relationships use activities such as reading the Bible, listening to Christian talk radio, and viewing Christian websites and blogs to seek information to improve relationships or promote healthy adaptation. Similarly, the authors speculated that praying with children and discussing spiritual values with them were seen as interventionary measures to protect children when parents were in low-quality relationships. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Family Life)
Open AccessArticle Family Religiosity, Parental Monitoring, and Emerging Adults’ Sexual Behavior
Religions 2019, 10(2), 114; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020114
Received: 31 December 2018 / Revised: 8 February 2019 / Accepted: 10 February 2019 / Published: 16 February 2019
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Abstract
The processes through which families play a role in the religious and sexual socialization of children are varied and complex. Few studies have considered the impact of parental or family religiosity on young people’s sexual behaviors, either directly or through influence on adolescents’ [...] Read more.
The processes through which families play a role in the religious and sexual socialization of children are varied and complex. Few studies have considered the impact of parental or family religiosity on young people’s sexual behaviors, either directly or through influence on adolescents’ own religiosity. This study of college students at a large, public university in the mid-Atlantic uses multidimensional measures to examine the relationships among family religiosity, parental monitoring during adolescence, students’ religiosity, and students’ specific sexual behaviors. Results suggest that greater family religiosity is associated with a decreased likelihood of engaging in certain sex acts, but for students who do engage, family religiosity is not associated with any differences in the timing of sexual onset or in the numbers of partners with whom students engaged. Results also suggest that parental monitoring may mediate the relationship between family religiosity and some sexual risk behavior. Greater individual religiosity is associated with a lower likelihood of having engaged in any sexual activity, and a higher likelihood of condom use for students who have had vaginal sex. This study offers valuable insights into the role that religiosity, at both the family and the individual level, plays in college students’ sexual behavior. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Family Life)
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Open AccessArticle Beyond Religious Rigidities: Religious Firmness and Religious Flexibility as Complementary Loyalties in Faith Transmission
Religions 2019, 10(2), 111; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020111
Received: 17 January 2019 / Revised: 6 February 2019 / Accepted: 10 February 2019 / Published: 15 February 2019
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Abstract
Research has found that intergenerational transmission of religiosity results in higher family functioning and improved family relationships. Yet the Pew Research Center found that 44% of Americans reported that they had left the religious affiliation of their childhood. And 78% of the expanding [...] Read more.
Research has found that intergenerational transmission of religiosity results in higher family functioning and improved family relationships. Yet the Pew Research Center found that 44% of Americans reported that they had left the religious affiliation of their childhood. And 78% of the expanding group of those who identify as religiously unaffiliated (“Nones”) reported that they were raised in “highly religious families.” We suggest that this may be, in part, associated with religious parents exercising excessive firmness with inadequate flexibility (rigidity). We used a multiphase, systematic, team-based process to code 8000+ pages of in-depth interviews from 198 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim families from 17 states in all 8 major religio-cultural regions of the United States. We framed firmness as mainly about loyalty to God and God’s purposes, and flexibility as mainly about loyalty to family members and their needs and circumstances. The reported findings provided a range of examples illustrating (a) religious firmness, (b) religious flexibility, as well as (c) efforts to balance and combine firmness and flexibility. We discuss conceptual and practical implications of treating firmness and flexibility as complementary loyalties in intergenerational faith transmission. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Family Life)
Open AccessArticle Religious Heterogamy and the Intergenerational Transmission of Religion: A Cross-National Analysis
Religions 2019, 10(2), 109; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020109
Received: 15 January 2019 / Revised: 8 February 2019 / Accepted: 11 February 2019 / Published: 14 February 2019
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Abstract
This study examines the effect of religious heterogamy on the transmission of religion from one generation to the next. Using data from 37 countries in the 2008 Religion III Module of the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), I conduct a cross-national analysis of [...] Read more.
This study examines the effect of religious heterogamy on the transmission of religion from one generation to the next. Using data from 37 countries in the 2008 Religion III Module of the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), I conduct a cross-national analysis of the relationship between parents’ religious heterogamy and their adult childrens’ religious lives. By estimating fixed effects regression models, I adjust for national-level confounders to examine patterns of association between having interreligious parents during childhood and level of adult religiosity as measured by self-rated religiousness, belief in God, and frequencies of religious attendance and prayer. The results indicate that having religiously heterogamous parents or parents with dissimilar religious attendance patterns are both associated with lower overall religiosity in respondents. Parents’ religious attendance, however, mediates the relationship when each parent has a different religion. Having one unaffiliated parent is associated with lower religiosity regardless of parents’ levels of religious attendance. The negative impact of parents’ religious heterogamy on religious inheritance is independent of national-level factors and has implications for anticipating changes in the religious landscapes of societies characterized by religious diversity and growing numbers of interreligious marriages. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Family Life)
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Open AccessArticle Religious Heterogamy, Marital Quality, and Paternal Engagement
Religions 2019, 10(2), 102; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020102
Received: 15 January 2019 / Revised: 7 February 2019 / Accepted: 8 February 2019 / Published: 10 February 2019
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Abstract
Using data from a nationally representative sample of married fathers of school-aged children, we examined the association between religious heterogamy of parents and fathers’ involvement in children’s lives. We further examined whether that association is mediated by marital quality and father–child religious discord. [...] Read more.
Using data from a nationally representative sample of married fathers of school-aged children, we examined the association between religious heterogamy of parents and fathers’ involvement in children’s lives. We further examined whether that association is mediated by marital quality and father–child religious discord. Results showed that greater religious heterogamy is associated with less interaction and more relational distance between fathers and children. Results also suggested that fathers’ reports of marital happiness play an important role in mediating the association between religious heterogamy and paternal engagement. We concluded that religious fathers are more involved in their children’s lives insofar as their wives are equally religious and they are in happy marriages. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Family Life)
Open AccessArticle Mixed Blessing: The Beneficial and Detrimental Effects of Religion on Child Development among Third-Graders
Religions 2019, 10(1), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010037
Received: 9 November 2018 / Revised: 31 December 2018 / Accepted: 4 January 2019 / Published: 9 January 2019
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Abstract
Previous research has linked parental religiosity to a number of positive developmental characteristics in young children. This study introduces the concept of selective sanctification as a refinement to existing theory and, in doing so, adds to a small but growing body of longitudinal [...] Read more.
Previous research has linked parental religiosity to a number of positive developmental characteristics in young children. This study introduces the concept of selective sanctification as a refinement to existing theory and, in doing so, adds to a small but growing body of longitudinal research on this topic. We explore how parents’ religious attendance (for fathers, mothers, and couples) and the household religious environment (parent–child religious discussions, spousal conflicts over religion) influence child development among third-graders. Analyses of longitudinal data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS)-Kindergarten Cohort reveal a mix of salutary (beneficial) and adverse (detrimental) developmental outcomes based on teachers’ ratings and standardized test performance scores. Third-graders’ psychological adjustment and social competence are enhanced by various religious factors, but students’ performance on reading, math, and science tests is hampered by several forms of parental religiosity. We discuss the implications of these findings and suggest several avenues for future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Family Life)
Open AccessArticle Paternity Leave, Father Involvement, and Parental Conflict: The Moderating Role of Religious Participation
Religions 2018, 9(10), 289; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9100289
Received: 24 August 2018 / Revised: 19 September 2018 / Accepted: 21 September 2018 / Published: 22 September 2018
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Abstract
Numerous studies show that taking paternity leave is associated with increased father involvement. However, fewer studies have explored contextual factors that may increase (or diminish) the likelihood that paternity leave-taking provides benefits to families. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing [...] Read more.
Numerous studies show that taking paternity leave is associated with increased father involvement. However, fewer studies have explored contextual factors that may increase (or diminish) the likelihood that paternity leave-taking provides benefits to families. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, this study examines the associations between paternity leave, fathers’ religious participation, father involvement, and parental conflict, and whether fathers’ religious participation moderates the associations between paternity leave, father involvement, and parental conflict. Results suggest that paternity leave-taking, length of paternity leave, and fathers’ religious participation are associated with increased father involvement but are unrelated to parental conflict. Results also suggest that religious participation may enhance the association between paternity leave and family outcomes; paternity leave-taking and length of paternity leave are only associated with lower levels of parental conflict among families in which fathers attend religious services frequently. Moreover, fathers who take leave and attend religious services frequently are more likely to be involved with their child than fathers who take leave but do not attend religious services. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Family Life)
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Open AccessArticle Their Fault, Not Mine: Religious Commitment, Theological Conservatism, and Americans’ Retrospective Reasons for Divorce
Religions 2018, 9(8), 238; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9080238
Received: 3 July 2018 / Revised: 1 August 2018 / Accepted: 3 August 2018 / Published: 7 August 2018
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Abstract
How does religion influence the ways divorcées frame their divorce experience? Building on Mills’s “vocabularies of motive” concept, I theorize that Americans who are more religious or affiliated with a conservative Protestant tradition will be more likely to emphasize their former spouse’s role [...] Read more.
How does religion influence the ways divorcées frame their divorce experience? Building on Mills’s “vocabularies of motive” concept, I theorize that Americans who are more religious or affiliated with a conservative Protestant tradition will be more likely to emphasize their former spouse’s role in the divorce while minimizing their own. Data are taken from a large, representative sample of divorced Americans in the 2014 Relationships in America survey. Analyses affirm that divorced Americans who attend worship services more frequently are more likely to say that their former spouse wanted the divorce more than they did. Looking at 17 specific reasons for divorce, those who feel religion is more important to them are consistently more likely to select reasons that put blame on their former spouse or circumstances, while frequent attendees are less likely to cite their own behaviors or intentions. Though less consistent, notable patterns also emerged for conservative Protestants. Given the stigma against divorce in many religious communities, I argue that divorcées in such communities likely feel internal pressure to account for their divorce in ways that deflect blame. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Family Life)
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