Some people put religion at the center of their family relationships and traditions while others do not put as much importance on it. Let’s look into the differences between religious and nonreligious families to better understand how religion affects their relationships.
How Religion Affects Family Relationships
Religion has played an important role in human society for many years and families, in turn, have helped promote and preserve religious beliefs and traditions. For many years studies have examined the way religion has affected human relationships, particularly families.
Here are some of the good and bad effects that religion has on family relationships:
A study published in the Journal Developmental Psychology found that more religious parents had more cohesive family relationships. The research also showed that religious parents had fewer conflicts in their marriage and adolescent children of religious families managed their emotions and actions better.
One possible reason why religion promotes familial harmony is that it encourages members to follow a common set of values. For example, the Catholic Faith teaches us to live out virtues of love, patience and humility and these are useful for dealing with tricky relationship issues.
Less Chances of Divorce
An article in the Journal of Family Psychology that examined 94 different studies on family and religion found that, as a general rule, religion had a small but distinct positive influence in preventing divorce among couples.
We live in a rapidly changing world that has significantly altered the way people view relationships. Religion gives us a solid foundation upon which to build relationships like marriage. When couples share a common religious background or faith, they have a common middle ground from which to sort out relational troubles. They can view problems from a shared perspective and hopefully come up with a resolution that is mutually beneficial.
Emotional and Spiritual Support
Being part of a religious group offers families emotional stability and spiritual guidance. Having a community that makes us feel welcome and supported is important. We live in an increasingly complex world and some families may not be equipped to handle the issues of their family members. A religious community is therefore a good place to seek advice and emotional support during difficult times.
Stronger Family Ties
Families that are part of religious communities are found to have stronger ties among members. This is according to the journal Family Relations that examined 200 married men and women of 20 different religions. Researchers believe that this might be attributed to the community support that has been made available by organized religion.
Additionally, being part of a religious faith offers opportunities for enjoying activities together which in turn could strengthen family relationships. These activities include going to church, praying and studying religious texts.
Solid Set of Values
Religion offers an excellent avenue for parents to teach children important values like being humble, God-fearing, compassionate and kind. These values can prove crucial for navigating the world and relating with other people.
Religious organizations also offer resources that can help families strengthen their value system. A family that is part of an organized faith will also experience solid community support and guidance, as the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.”
When taken to the extreme, religion can cause followers to be intolerant toward those who they perceive to be different from them. We see many incidents of this in the news, an extreme example would be religious discrimination and terrorism but this negative mentality also manifests in more subtle ways within the family.
In a study published in the Review of Religious Research, gay and lesbian family members related that they felt like outsiders whenever they attended a religious family wedding. The researchers of the study propose that conservative religious faith may negatively affect family cohesion when family members do not fit the standards of their religion.
Lack of Autonomy
Very conservative religious parents usually have a distinct way of defining the behavior of their children. An article in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion argues that conservative Christian parents define well behaved children as obedient and they discouraged autonomy. This suggests that while religious families had more harmonious relationships, they were not necessarily healthy for their children.
Undeniably, being part of a religious community has many benefits, like many other noble things, religion can be skewed and twisted in a way that becomes detrimental to our family ties. We should therefore be aware of the dangers of taking religion to the extreme so we can prevent it from becoming harmful to our relationships.
The role that religion plays in our family life is a deeply personal choice. That is to say, religion’s effects on our family relationships, whether good or bad, will depend on how we apply its teachings.
Do you feel that religion plays a positive role in your family?