Culture Post: Holiday Tension Rises When Older Kids Pushed to Attend Religious Services

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by StudyFinds.

Is religion creating an awkward tension between teens and parents? Free will is an essential aspect of many religions but try explaining that to mom and dad this holiday season. In a poll conducted by University of Michigan researchers, close to half (48%) of parents who plan to attend religious services this holiday season say they would insist their teen join — even if they would rather not.

Whether it’s midnight mass, synagogue, or another type of service, religious rituals are an integral part of the holidays for countless families. Interestingly, however, the new survey suggests many of the younger attendees at these events probably won’t be there by choice. While half of surveyed parents say they’re comfortable with children and teens having a say in whether or not they attend religious events, 44 percent add that, ultimately, kids shouldn’t get to pick until they turn 18.

Another 38 percent would discuss the importance of the event with their skeptical teen but allow the adolescent to choose. Smaller percentages would support their teen’s choice not to attend (8%) or try bargaining (6%) with their teen to get them to attend.

This data comes from the latest report from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at University of Michigan Health. It included responses from 1,090 parents with at least one child between 13 and 18 years-old living at home, collected between August and September 2022.

While the poll reveals most parents are generally content with the level of their teen’s involvement in religious activities, over a third admitted they wish their teen would participate in more religious services and activities. Three in four (75%) also agree that participation in religious services helps adolescents connect with their family history and traditions.

All in all, the poll indicates instilling religion in their kids is important for most parents, with the majority of respondents saying they believe that a relationship with a higher power helps teens feel a sense of safety and security, and promotes positive overall well-being. This gels nicely with prior research indicating that participation in spiritual practices during adolescence is indeed linked to health benefits come adulthood.

Source: StudyFinds

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[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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