Familial religious involvement and children's mental health outcome
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These three studies use two waves of the National Survey of Families and Households to investigate the influence of parents’ religious commitment and involvement on children’s internalizing and externalizing problems over time. In addition, the analyses will examine of different forms of family instability and parenting practices mediates this relationship. Furthermore, does parental religiosity moderate the relationship between instability and children’s mental health problems? The first study shows that children whose parents are both religiously unaffiliated, exhibit elevated internalizing problems compared to children from mixed-faith households. Evangelical Protestant affiliation moderated the relationship between parents’ frequent arguments and internalizing problems. In addition, children whose mothers are more theologically conservative than the fathers show elevated levels of internalizing problems. In addition, theological dissimilarity (mothers more conservative) plays a moderating role between frequent arguments and internalizing problems. The second study shows that children from religiously homogamous households, exhibit lower than average externalizing problems. In addition, fathers’ religious involvement protects their children from externalizing problems, even when accounting for various forms of family instability and parenting practices. Furthermore, children whose mothers are more theologically conservative than fathers, show elevated levels of some externalizing problems. Structural equation modeling analyses show that parents’ socioeconomic status is related to parental religious dissimilarity, parental divorce and parental praise of children. When mothers are more theologically conservative than fathers, these couples are at higher likelihood of frequent parental arguments. As a consequence, their children are at an elevated likelihood of difficulty concentrating, internalizing problems, and externalizing problems. Frequency of parental arguments is also positively related to divorce. If high conflict marriages end, children are at a reduced likelihood of externalizing problems. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.