Role of Religiosity in the Lives of the Low-Income Population: A Comprehensive Review of the Evidence. Overview

07/10/2009

A number of studies, particularly since the early 1990s, have examined the relationship between religiosity and various parenting outcomes related to both parent and child well-being. Beyond simple associations, a number of these studies explore both the institutional and individualized pathways through which religiosity influences parenting attitudes, behaviors, practices, and approaches. The hypothesized links between religiosity and parenting emphasize institutional opportunities that religious involvement provides for family-centric activities, family-oriented networks, religious teachings that emphasize the centrality of family, the importance of positive relationships, and the virtue of caring for others.

  • Religious communities are thought to provide social support for parents and to informally promote and enforce social norms related to parenting that are based on religious ideology.

Religious communities are thought to provide social support for parents and to informally promote and enforce social norms related to parenting that are based on religious ideology. For example, some religious ideologies endorse parent-oriented practices that emphasize child obedience, whereas other ideologies promote child-centered/responsive approaches (Bartkowski & Xu, 2000).

Religiosity can also exert influence at a more individual or personal level by affecting attitudes about family issues and gender roles, for example, as well as affecting cognitive and socioemotional abilities related to parenting. Religious involvement can offer a resource for coping with difficult life stressors, whereas service to a religious community can enhance feelings of self-efficacy and mastery. In these ways, religiosity can bolster parental cognitive and socioemotional resources and/or serve as a protective factor for outcomes that harm parent-child relationshipsa pathway of increased relevance for low-income parents experiencing high levels of stress.

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