Parenting and the challenging work of handing on the faith – Catholic World Report

It’s hard to imagine that anyone who ever raised children found it an entirely easy job. Challenging, exciting, often rewarding–yes. But easy? You’ve got to be kidding. That is certainly the case when it comes to religion. Yet as Christian Smith and Amy Adamczyk report in their important new book Handing Down the Faith (Oxford), “Above and beyond any other effect on children’s religion is the influence of their parents.” By no means does that mean that what parents do will be an absolute guarantee of either success or failure. The children of religiously conscientious parents sometimes turn out to be unbelieving rascals, while religiously careless parents now and then raise offspring who become saints. But making ample allowance for the many exceptions, it appears to be generally true that parents who are lax in their faith turn out kids who then prove even laxer. As Stephen Bullivant says in his illuminating analysis of Catholic “disaffiliation” in America and Great Britain Mass Exodus (Oxford), there is a clear link between the seepage from the Church occurring in recent decades and the fact that the “Catholic” upbringing of many of those who took leave of the faith was “very weak or nominal.” Data provided by sociologists Smith and Adamczyk (he teaches at Notre Dame, she at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the City University of New York) shed further light on what that means.

Parenting and the challenging work of handing on the faith – Catholic World Report

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