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Faith can help parents feel better — or worse — about themselves

First Published      Last Updated Sep 23 2013 02:12 pm

Religion can help moms and dads feel happier about their roles — as long as the faith posits a supportive, rather than a punitive, God.

Daily prayer, weekly worship and the notion of "sanctification" — that parenting is a divine role — contributed to a mother's or father's sense of well-being and satisfaction, explains David Briggs, a writer with the Association of Religion Data Archives, who was reporting the findings of a study conducted by Baylor sociologist Jeremy Uecker, with Samuel Stroope of Louisiana State University and W. Matthew Henderson of Baylor.

"The belief that 'you are doing God's will' may equip parents with a positive outlook that can help them through the ups and downs of parenthood," Briggs quotes Uecker saying.

But those who "believe in a punishing, judgmental God may find themselves under greater stress," Briggs writes, "if they interpret the trials of parenthood as a reflection of their own failure to live up to a divine norm of parenthood."

In other words, parents who see colicky babies, tantrum-inclined toddlers and rebellious teens as divine punishment are, well, a lot less happy.