How Growing Up with Religion and Spirituality Affects Your Mental Health
Religion has always been such a sensitive topic for everyone. It can be such a touchy subject especially if you are talking to people who don’t have the same beliefs as you. In most societies, religion is taught at a very young age, both at home and in educational institutions. Whatever the parents believe in, their child will most likely grow up with the same beliefs.
It is known to be a part of raising a child, however, based on the recent Pew Research Center survey, more and more people are raising their children without religion. It is illegal for parents to not let their kids go to school or prevent them from learning, but teaching them what to believe in isn’t necessarily part of the knowledge these kids are required to learn. Psychologist revealed that there are indeed advantages and disadvantages for not raising children with religion.
Raising Kids Without Religion
The survey revealed that more and more American parents who are aged 30 and below are choosing not to teach their children anything about religion. These parents shun any religious or spiritual practices themselves, hence they try to raise their children the same way they live. Although most of them are raising their children to practice love and compassion to everyone, they don’t want to be involved in any religious practices such as reading or watching bible stories.
According to Professor Christel Manning, children will believe whatever they are taught because of how little they know about the world. When they grows up without a set of religious or spiritual beliefs, they learn to find information on their own and reach conclusions that best make sense to them. But sometimes growing up no believing in what your parents believe in will put your relationship at risk especially when these parents try to force their kids into doing something that they don’t particularly want to do.
Manning said, in her book entitled Losing Our Religion: How Unaffiliated Parents Are Raising Their Children, that religion actually has a cyclical pattern which explained why young parents made certain choice in reflection of how they were raised by their own parents.
Impact on Mental Health
However, according to a new study conducted by researchers from T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard, children who are raised by parents who strictly follow religious practices have better mental health when they grow older. This research was published at the American Journal of Epidemiology, and it also found that as these children experience spirituality, they become more aware of their mental state and are more likely to find time to meditate once they grow older.
It was also found that children who grow up attending religious services once or twice a week are more likely to be happier than those who didn’t. According to the author of the study Ying Chen, this study involves parenting as well as the overall psychological health.
Children’s minds can be easily manipulated, so when they were asked to pray for something as long as they become good, then they will be blessed. It’s teaching them to accept the consequences of their actions, which simply involves praying to a supreme being. But another study shows that there are actually negative side effects when a family is extremely religious.
Experts say that parents who want their children to become as devoted as them when it comes to their faith may cause their children to hold back, especially if they are becoming aware of their surroundings. Religious practices can create a gap between a parent-child relationship, especially if they reach a certain age when they can make rational decisions or question specific things that faith cannot answer.
Mental health experts say that religion isn’t really evil by itself, it is how the people interpret it that can cause misunderstandings, not just in the family, but also within the society. Religion is one of the reasons why the world cannot attain peace, but at the same time, it can also bring people together. There are no perfect ways to raise a child, especially with or without religion.
Psychologists say that preparing your children for a world full of different people and different beliefs, is one of the most important things a parent must do, so if you teach your children horrible manners, then don’t expect them to act properly when they grow up.
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