Another great little article from Kairos Journal . If you ever wondered if there was real evidence on the whole "the family that prays together stays together" quote, here's what you have been waiting for. Don't buy what the media sells. Serving Christ, loving Christ makes a real difference in the quality of everything in life.
Time Well Spent: Enhancing Civility
Clichés certainly can be annoying. They can also be right. The popular saying “the family that prays together, stays together” serves as a case in point that “well worn” adages need not be trite or trivial. In 2003, sociologists at the National Study of Youth and Religion examined the relationship between a family’s religious participation and the quality of the bond between teens and parents. Their surveys showed that children in devotionally minded homes had a better perception of their parents: “Early adolescents living in religiously involved families in the United States are more likely to report stronger, more positive relationships between their parents than do adolescents in families that are not religiously active.”1 In other words, parents who make their faith a priority have stronger and healthier families. This conclusion is supported by the statistics.
When youth and families are involved in a religious activity five to seven days a week, 59% of the teenagers reported that their mothers always encouraged and supported their fathers. In homes that were not religiously active, only 34% of teens could say the same. When asked if their mothers consistently express affection for their fathers, 71% of the youth from families that were daily involved in devotions and prayer answered in the affirmative compared to 46% of youth in non-religious homes. Over two-thirds of the youth from religiously involved families said that their fathers always act lovingly toward their mothers. The same was reported by only 45% of teenagers in uninvolved families. When families are engaged in spiritual activities, over 70% of the kids reported that their father never insults or criticizes their mother. In contrast, just over half of the teenagers from secular homes could say the same thing about their fathers.2 Christian families, on balance, appear to have happier and healthier homes.3
Sociologists, of course, cannot measure whether the religious activity in such households comes from hearts that are truly regenerate. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that—across the board—acts of “human decency” between a husband and a wife are more evident in families that regularly gather around Scripture and prayer than in families that exclusively gather around popcorn and a video.
These statistics encourage every pastor, deacon, or Sunday School teacher who endeavors to build up Christian families. The research shows that such labors are decidedly not in vain. Civil families make civil citizens. But mothers and fathers committed to a biblical model for family religion have every reason to hope and pray for even more. Beyond the mere civility of parents who get along, believers should with expectancy call on God to have mercy upon them by bringing their children to a gracious, saving faith in Jesus Christ. Such a witness may never receive credit in a university study, but will no doubt be called great in the kingdom of God.
Christian Smith and Phillip Kim, Family Religious Involvement and the Quality of Parental Relationships for Families with Early Adolescents (report, The National Study of Youth and Religion, Odum Institute for Research in Social Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2003), http://www.youthandreligion.org/publications/docs/family2.pdf, 7 (accessed June 24, 2004).
Ibid, 10, 11, 17, 20.
See also Kaiors Journal article, "Christian Marriages Do Last."