Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Religious Education, PhD

First Advisor

David Sedlacek

Second Advisor

Tevni Grajales

Third Advisor

Delyse Steyn



Though widespread studies have been conducted on the psycho-socio-cultural effects of family systems functioning on individuals’ developmental outcomes, there is limited discussion on the direct correlations between family relational encounters and adolescents’ development of faith and life values. The effects of dialectical interplay within family systems are often missed, misinterpreted, or minimized. This study presumed that because familial relationships have far-reaching psycho-socio-cultural effects on individuals’ development outcomes, there are also likely effects on certain religious outcomes. Subsequently, certain parent-child relational encounters were examined to determine whether they have significant effects on adolescents’ faith maturity, life values, and commitment to Christ.


A quantitative, non-experimental, exploratory correlational research design utilizing secondary data analysis was used to test the family systems dialectics (FSD) model. The FSD model is a synthesis of tenets of family systems theories (FST) and relational dialectics theory (RDT) used to conceptualize possible effects of certain parent-child relational encounters. The population sample consisting of adolescents attending high schools affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church was drawn from the Valuegenesis2 census carried out by the Hancock Center for Youth and Family Ministry, La Sierra University, Riverside, California. Forty-one observed items extracted from Valugenesis2 were used to indicate the latent constructs family climate (FC) and FSD, and the outcome variables—faith maturity (FM), life values (LV), and commitment to Christ (CC). The latent construct FC was indicated by adolescents’ perceptions of family happiness (FC1), level of love in family (FC2), parent-child relationship (FC3), parents’ support of child (FC4), verbal expression of love (FC5), and response to family rules (FC6). Likewise, the FSD construct was indicated by their perception of frequent good conversations with parents (FGCP), comfort with faith talk (CFT), parents’ religious posture (PRP), frequent conversations with parents about faith (FCPF), and family worship (FW). Mean score computations and descriptive and frequency analyses were carried out using IBM Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) and model testing procedures (i.e., structural equation modeling [SEM]) were conducted using Analysis of a Moment Structures (AMOS) 24.


In testing the hypothesized model, FSD, SEM procedures indicated similarities between the theoretical covariance matrix and the observed covariance matrix. Four of five model fitting indices used to evaluate the model indicated acceptable target values. With the large sample size used in this study, a significant chi-square index χ2 (68, N = 4,675) = 822.00, p = .000) suggested that there were possible inconsistencies between the theoretical model and the observed model. However, other model fitting indices (i.e., GFI = .98; NFI = .96; CFI = .97; and RMSEA = .49) indicated that the empirical data supported the theoretical model. Consequently, the null hypothesis was retained. Significant correlations were indicated among observed variables. Regression was observed between FSD and FM (β = .32, p = .000), and between FSD and LV (β = .18, p = .000). Mediated effects of FSD were indicated through FM (β = .42, p = .000), and through LV (β = .06, p = .000) on CC. Faith maturity and life values were directly influenced by FSD and FC which accounted for 29% and 11% of the variances (respectively) in faith maturity and life values. The mediated effect of FSD and FC through FM and LV accounted for 20% of the variance in CC.


The FSD model that indicated the systemic dialectical interplay of parent-child relational encounters was supported by the empirical data, providing support for the assumption that relational encounters in family systems potentially influence adolescents’ faith maturity, life values, and indirectly commitment to Christ.

Subject Area

Parent and child; Faith development; Families--Religious aspects--Research