Date of Award

2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Religious Education, PhD

First Advisor

O. Jane Thayer

Second Advisor

Jerome D. Thayer

Third Advisor

Edwin I. Hernandez

Abstract

Problem. Typically, parents do not realize how influential they are in fostering spiritual growth in their children and are not aware of key influential factors that can motivate their children in practicing spiritual disciplines such as prayer, Bible reading, meditation, and church attendance.

Method. This study used data from the Avance PR study conducted during the months of March and October 1995. The population for this study was high-school students enrolled in Seventh-day Adventist academies and youth who attended Seventh-day Adventist churches in Puerto Rico. The youth sample (ages 13-25) consisted of 1,377 single, never-married subjects: 586 males and 775 females. A total of 27 independent variables, 2 dependent variables, and 2 control variables were analyzed. The independent variables were parental influence factors that included parental marital status, income level, education, attitudes, behaviors, and religious practices. The dependent variables were devotional practices and church attendance practices. The control variables were age and gender. These variables were tested using ANOVA, two-way ANOVA, Pearson correlation coefficient, and multiple regression.

Results. Twenty-seven parental influence variables were tested to examine their relationship with youth devotional practices and church attendance. When tested individually and when tested individually after controlling for age and gender, 17 variables showed a significant relationship with devotional practicesand 19 variables showed a significant relationship with church attendance. Significant differences on devotional practices and church attendance were found between adolescents and young adults, and between males and females, when tested individually after controlling for age and gender. When tested together and when tested together after controlling for age and gender, 4 variables showed a significant relationship with devotional practices and 4 variables showed a significant relationship with church attendance. Three variables met the criteria for a good prediction model and were significantly related to devotional practices in all tests: family Adventist standards, family worship quantity, and parental authoritarianism. Four variables met the criteria for a good prediction model and were significantly related to church attendance in all tests: family Adventist standards, parental role model, mother SDA, and both parents SDA. Both models predicted more than 20% of the variance of devotional and church attendance practices.

Conclusions. The relationships found in this study suggest that parents have a strong influence on the devotional and church attendance practices of their children. A few of these relationships varied depending on the age and gender of the child. The model predicting devotional practices showed that parents are more likely to increase devotional practices of their children when they (a) enforce Adventist lifestyle standards, (b) expose their children to frequent family worship, (c) and do not exert an authoritarian parental style toward their children. The model predicting church attendance showed that parents are more likely to increase church attendance practices of their children when they (a) enforce Adventist lifestyle standards, (b) are good role models of the Christian life, (c) mother is Adventist, and (d) both parents are Adventists.

Subject Area

Parental influences, Influence (Psychology)--Religious aspects--Christianity, Parent and child--Religious aspects--Christianity, Youth--Puerto Rico--Religious life, Youth--Puerto Rico--Conduct of life

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