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Will Children Cherish Their Parents' Faith? Wheatley Religion Initiative Fellow Loren Marks Conducts Study with the Institute for Family Studies

Study findings include key principles for religious parents hoping to encourage their children to value faith

"A bone-deep hope, vision, and prayer of many highly religious parents is that their children will be true to the faith that they have cherished. A collision course is currently set because the percentage of religious “Nones” (those reporting no religious affiliation) and “Dones” (those who have left religion) has measurably increased among the rising generation. As a result, many highly religious parents experience disappointed dreams for their children who choose not to keep the faith.

The reality is that, even if they wanted to, parents do not have the power to make an emerging adult child remain faithful. However, parents do have potent influence. We’ve written that “when a teen’s parents are actively involved in religious faith, it is significantly more likely that the teen will be actively involved in a life of religious faith as an emerging adult and middle-aged adult.” However, increased odds are far from a guarantee...

In the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, parents are instructed to teach their children to love God with all their hearts (Deuteronomy 6:4-8). But the Hebrew Bible also extends the universal invitation, “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve …” (Joshua 24:15). This balance between parents’ profound desires for children to remain faithful and their simultaneous desire to honor their children’s agency and choices showed up repeatedly in our national American Families of Faith project, where we interviewed about 400 highly religious parents, in significant depth."

Read the full article on the Institute of Family Studies website.