The relationship of religious orientation to parenting perceptions and behaviors

Jacquelyn Shari Levine, Pace University


Researchers acknowledge the powerful influence of parents on their children, as they shape their children's development and influence their behavior as well as their academic and social success. Previous research on parenting focused on how parenting and parenting styles affect a child's development. A relatively recent theory, Parent Role Development Theory (PRDT) identifies the importance of the social role parents' play and defines six associated parent role characteristics (i.e., bonding, discipline, education, general welfare and protection, responsivity and sensitivity). The PRDT states that individuals begin developing an understanding of what is means to be a parent from a very young age and their perception of the parenting role changes and develops over time. Individuals' life experiences, family dynamics, and socio-cultural experiences impact upon their parental role development. Researchers have investigated the role of socioeconomic status, family structure, and ethnicity on child-rearing. However, minimal attention has been given to the impact of religiosity on parenting, in spite of researchers' findings of an association between religiosity and parental practices and the high level of reported religious affiliation among American married couples and parents. The purpose of this study was to determine if there are discernible, identifiable relationships between religious affiliation and parent role perceptions. Specifically, using the Parent Role Questionnaire and Parent Behavior Questionnaire, this research examined the similarities and differences between Catholic and Jewish parents' perceptions of the importance of the six identified PRDT parent role characteristics. The results of this study support the PRDT in that all parents identified the six parenting role characteristics as important. No statistically significant differences were found between Catholic and Jewish parents' perceptions of the importance of the parental role characteristics. However, Catholic parents consistently rated their behavior frequency on all six parenting role characteristics higher than did the Jewish parents, although the differences were not statistically significant. A statistically significant difference was found between males and females in the level of importance for all of these characteristics. Catholic and Jewish females consistently rated all six characteristics as more important than did the Catholic and Jewish males participating in this study. The results of this research further support the importance of the six parent role characteristics to parenting. This knowledge provides psychologists an understanding of how parents perceive and express their parenting role. Psychologists' structuring of their parent consultations around these core parenting values may prove beneficial in that psychologists can focus on what is important to parents. Additionally, understanding the differences between how males and females perceive their parenting role may prove to be extremely useful to psychologists working with families. Because effective parenting typically involves consistency between parents, psychologists' awareness of gender, as well as other, differences in parenting can assist them in helping parents develop and achieve mutual goals.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Levine, Jacquelyn Shari, "The relationship of religious orientation to parenting perceptions and behaviors" (2003). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3100073.



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