An empirical test of the sanctification and social support hypotheses of religious influences on parenting

Darlene E Piekarek, Marquette University


A growing body of literature has demonstrated positive associations between religion and the major dimensions of favorable parenting, i.e., responsiveness and demandingness. However, little is known about how and why religion may influence parenting. Recent efforts have sought to identify more fine-grained variables that explain this association. The two primary hypotheses identified in the literature are sanctification (the belief that parenting is a sacred duty) and social support. However, the two hypotheses have never been compared in a single study. The goals of this study were to compare sanctification and religious social support as predictors of parenting, and to examine how those variables relate to other constructs identified as important in the parenting literature, namely, parenting motivation and parenting stress/symptoms. A total of 73 college students and their parents completed measures of parenting, well-being, individual religiousness, sanctification, religious social support, and parenting motivation. Results indicated that, for fathers, sanctification was a significant predictor of multiple dimensions of favorable parenting as reported by their late adolescent college students; while religious social support was not a significant predictor. For mothers, religious variables were not a significant predictor of parenting, possibly due to restricted range in this sample and/or the increased stress on the relationship associated with the late adolescent transition. The association of sanctification with parenting for fathers was mediated by increased parenting motivation and decreased general psychological distress. Although sanctification did not add significantly to the prediction of favorable parenting for fathers beyond that predicted by individual religiousness alone, the sanctification concept had the strongest relationship with the mediators, providing some evidence that a sanctified view of parenting has a particular relationship with lower general distress and higher parenting motivation for fathers. Other contributions of the study include validation of a measure of parenting motivation and a replication of the finding that outcomes for college students continue to be associated with the quality of the parenting they receive. Implications for improving the quality of parenting, and future research directions for the study of the religion and parenting relationship are discussed.

Recommended Citation

Piekarek, Darlene E, "An empirical test of the sanctification and social support hypotheses of religious influences on parenting" (2008). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI3326746.