Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Churchgoing Fathers and Urban Families

A new study has recently been published by Brad Wilcox of the University of Virginia. It contains good news for churches and for families that attend them. The study tackled the difficult question of whether church attendance makes a difference in the quality of urban family life. Here are some of the relevant findings:

- Church attendance is strongly associated with marital childbearing. This is especially true when fathers attend church. "Fathers who attend services several times a month or more are 95 percent more likely to be married when their child is born."

- Church attendance is also associated with single mothers getting married within three years after their baby is born (as opposed to remaining single as the child is growing up).

- If the father attends church services regularly, both parents are more likely to rate their partner as supportive, and both are more likely to report that they have an excellent relationship with each other. These results do not vary by race.

As the author says,

Religious attendance appears to foster behavior among urban fathers that makes
them more attractive mates and better partners. African American parents in
urban America are as likely to benefit from churchgoing as are whites. Indeed,
the racial gap in marriage rates in urban America today would be even larger
were it not for comparatively high levels of African American religiosity.
Finally, religious attendance is associated with higher reports of relationship
satisfaction for both married and unmarried parents in urban America.

This study confirms what many churchgoing families have understood for years - that when men assume the role of spiritual leader of the family, families are more stable, and relationships between spouses are more satisfying. (Hat tip: Family Research Council's "Washington Update," June 12, 2007)

No comments: