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Study: Highly Religious Parents Have Better Behaved Kids

Kids whose parents regularly attended religious services and talked with their kids about religion are better behaved and adjusted than other children, revealed John Bartkowski.
( [email protected] ) Apr 25, 2007 03:48 PM EDT
Kids whose parents regularly attended religious services and talked with their kids about religion are better behaved and adjusted than other children, revealed John Bartkowski.

Religion can be good for the kids, a new study has found.

Kids whose parents regularly attended religious services and talked with their kids about religion are better behaved and adjusted than other children, revealed John Bartkowski, a sociologist at Mississippi State University, according to LiveScience.

Bartkowski and his colleagues surveyed the parents and teachers of more than 16,000 kids - mainly first-graders. Kids were rated on self control, poor or unhappy behavior, and how well they respect and work with their peers.

The ratings were compared to how frequently the children's parents said they attended worship services, talked about religion with their kids and argued about religion in the home.

Researchers found that when parents, especially both, attend religious services frequently and talk about religion with their children, the kids had better self-control, social skills and approaches to learning than kids with non-religious parents.

No comparison, however, could be made among children of different religious groups such as Protestant kids and Catholic kids and which is better behaved.

Explaining some of the reasons religion has a positive impact on behavior, Bartkowski says religious networks provide social support to parents which can improve parenting skills. Also, the types of values and norms that circulate congregations tends to be self-sacrificing and pro-family, the sociologist told LiveScience. On a third note, religious organizations imbue parenting with sacred meaning and significance, he said.

For kids whose parents argued frequently about religion, the children were more likely to have problems, the study found.

"Religion can hurt if faith is a source of conflict or tension in the family," said Bartkowski.

The sociologist further noted it's possible that children's behavior can affect the parents' attendance in a religious service.

"There are certain expectations about children’s behavior within a religious context, particularly within religious worship services," he said, according to LiveScience. These expectations might frustrate parents and make congregational worship "a less viable option if they feel their kids are really poorly behaved."

The study will be published in the Social Science Research journal.