A new study involving the parents and teachers of more than 16,000 kids reveals that—get ready for this!—religion is good for children. LiveScience.com reports:
Kids with religious parents are better behaved and adjusted than other children, according to a new study that is the first to look at the effects of religion on young child development.
The conflict that arises when parents regularly argue over their faith at home, however, has the opposite effect.
John Bartkowski, a Mississippi State University sociologist and his colleagues asked the parents and teachers of more than 16,000 kids, most of them first-graders, to rate how much self control they believed the kids had, how often they exhibited poor or unhappy behavior and how well they respected and worked with their peers.
The researchers compared these scores to how frequently the children�s parents said they attended worship services, talked about religion with their child and argued about religion in the home.
The kids whose parents regularly attended religious services�especially when both parents did so frequently�and talked with their kids about religion were rated by both parents and teachers as having better self-control, social skills and approaches to learning than kids with non-religious parents....
Bartkowski thinks religion can be good for kids for three reasons. First, religious networks provide social support to parents, he said, and this can improve their parenting skills. Children who are brought into such networks and hear parental messages reinforced by other adults may also �take more to heart the messages that they get in the home,� he said.
Secondly, the types of values and norms that circulate in religious congregations tend to be self-sacrificing and pro-family, Bartkowski told LiveScience. These �could be very, very important in shaping how parents relate to their kids, and then how children develop in response,� he said.
Finally, religious organizations imbue parenting with sacred meaning and significance, he said.
What isn't good for kids? "Gay parenting," the subject of this Mercator.net interview with Canadian author Dawn Stefanowicz, who has written a book, Out From Under: Getting Clear of the Wreckage of a Sexually Disordered Home, about being raised by a homosexual father. From the interview:
MercatorNet: Do you know other people who have lived with homosexual parents?
Stefanowicz: I am in touch with many families in which about 40 children have been impacted. Many of the children have dealt with fear, anger, and depression. Without a doubt, we deal with sexuality confusion. Suicide has come up quite a bit with adolescent boys who have gay fathers. They appear to be very angry with their dad. There are insurmountable odds that these children have to face. Some of us have been exposed to pathogens. This would be expected as we are in high-risk situations that haven't even been researched yet. Our parents often die early. We have a hard time coping with the burdens we carry, while some of us don't make it and commit suicide.
MercatorNet: Why do so few children speak out?
Stefanowicz: You're terrified. Absolutely terrified. Children who open up these family secrets are dependent on parents for everything. You carry the burden that you have to keep secrets. You learn to put on an image publicly of the happy family that is not reality. With same-sex legislation, children are further silenced. They believe there is no safe adult they can go to.
MercatorNet: Same-sex marriage is now accepted in Canada and children are being taught in some Canadian schools as young age six that same-sex parents are part of a normal, healthy family. Why is there so little objection?
Stefanowicz: There is an assumption that children in this situation want acceptance of that situation. That's not true. We don't think of daddy's partner as another daddy. In the cases I've come across, none of the children think of the partner as mommy or daddy. They are daddy's partner or mommy's partner.
MercatorNet: How can society wake up to these problems?
Stefanowicz: It will take parents who have their own children, making appropriate sacrifices, saying we will not go down this path. It will take people not accepting government legislative permissions. I am challenged by the passivity I am seeing in Canada right now. When children come home from school and tell their parents, “I think I am gay”, it's just because of the school programming. The grassroots will have to rise up. Unfortunately, there are school boards which have aligned themselves with the homosexual lobby.
I grew up in this environment they promote and yet the problems I witnessed are ignored. Just as an example, I ask: “Why is the HIV rate not dropping? Why?” It's not lack of education. It's lack of morality. If you don't teach a moral framework around chaste sexual behaviour, including instruction on monogamous marriage, children will experiment. All children question their values, but I'm hoping parents who have a moral framework will take a stand.
A couple of related IgnatiusInsight.com articles:
• Do Boys Need Dads? An IgnatiusInsight.com Interview with Maggie Gallagher
• Discovering the Fatherhood of God in a Gender-Neutral Society | Mary Anastasia
• Male and Female He Created Them | Jorge Cardinal Medina Estévez