13 things religion does to your children

Posted May 10

Attacks on religion include words such as deception and fraud. There exists a need to correct those misperceptions and talk instead about the ways religion can make family life better. The following are just some of the things religion can do for your children:

1. Makes them happier

According to research published in the journal "American Sociological Review," religious people tend to be happier when they are part of regular church services. It provides them with a sense of community, belonging and happiness.

2. Teaches them to be better citizens

Harvard Business School professional Clayton Christensen once told of a conversation he had with a Marxist economist from China, who observed that the reason democracy works is because most people, most of the time, voluntarily choose to obey the law. The economist went on to observe that these people believed they were accountable not just to society, but also to God. Most of the laws we live by today have a basis in religious teaching.

3. Creates a sense of wonder

The Rabbi David Wolpe said, "Countless generations of believers regulated their lives by faith. They believed, not out of fear, but out of wonder, not from a desire to judge and exclude, but to understand."

4. Encourages good health habits

In one 1998 study, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that regular churchgoers are more likely to get preventive care. Several other studies demonstrate a significant association between religious practice and healthy habits related to cigarette, alcohol and drug use.

5. Provides a set of rules to live by

In the United States, we have come to practice the separation of church and state to such an extent that schools are restricted from teaching our children basic moral values. It is left to religious institutions to help parents provide a moral compass for children to follow.

6. Engenders a sense of optimism

Religion teaches children that there are both good guys and bad guys out there, and that in the end the good guys will win. Optimism also tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. When our children believe in goodness, goodness tends to come their way.

7. Enhances a sense of tradition

In an article that first appeared in "Ambassador Magazine," psychologist Dr. Donna Rockwell wrote about the importance of tradition.

"Our traditions act as a compass for all of our human relationships and personal interactions. As we honor traditions, so we learn to honor ourselves, and each other," she said. Religious traditions include ceremonies that take us through birth, life passages, marriage and even death.

8. Teaches them to rejoice and sing

It has been said that Christianity is a singing religion. The Bible tells us to sing from the heart. Even the Book of Psalms is filled with the words "I will sing." Singing generates energy and enthusiasm, and it helps our children express their emotions.

9. Encourages selflessness

Faith-based cultures teach our children that it is better to give than to receive. In churches, children learn charitable giving. Stephen Post, a professor of preventive medicine, reported that giving to others helps increase health benefits in people with chronic illnesses. Giving to others also helps us to be more grateful for what we have.

10. Fosters education and learning

In an article titled "How Faith Communities Support Children's Learning in Public Schools," published by the U.S. Department of Education, the study concludes:

"Many faith communities partner with schools to provide tutoring, safe havens, after-school programs, mentoring, and summer activities." Communities of faith help us get involved in children's learning and improve their education. 11. Strengthens family bonds

Religious practices help encourage unity among family members. Shared beliefs can create a bond among family members, while providing a secure framework for children to eventually go out on their own. Spending time together as a family creates an important sense of belonging. Religion encourages loyalty to both parents and ancestors.

12. Provides a sense of purpose

Faith can give children and adults a sense of purpose and meaning. Faith makes us want to live. Viktor Frankl's research in the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz led him to conclude that those who survived were those who found meaning in their lives. We need a reason to live. Faith can give us that reason.

13. Facilitates family fun

Faith-based communities offer needed recreation for children through fun family activities. Carnivals, musical concerts, ice cream socials and other religious festivals provide a safe environment for children to have fun with their family members and friends.

Religion helps both us and our children lead more fulfilled lives. Associate your children regularly with a faith-based community and watch them thrive!

Read about the power of families to seek after the one in Susan's book: Coming Home: A Mormon's Return to Faith. Learn more at You can reach Susan at:


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