Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium (GRADS)

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The relationship between adolescents and their parents has a significant impact on their positive development into adulthood. This study analyzes data from the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR) in order to determine if an adolescent’s relationship with his or her parents has an impact on the religiosity of adolescents between the ages of 17-24 years old. This study distinguished the difference between religiosity and spirituality. Religiosity involves a relationship with a particular institutionalized doctrine about a supernatural power; a relationship that occurs through affiliation with an organized faith and participation in its prescribed rituals (Reich, Oser, & Scarlett, 1999). This is opposed to spirituality, which is a more general way of thinking about a higher being or purpose without the affiliation of an organized doctrine or faith. The study is framed by James Fowler’s faith development theory (Fowler, 1984), which contends that religion can be an important aspect of positive youth development for older adolescents. The theory supposes that the more autonomous a person grows in their faith the less influence others have on their faith development. Utilizing the NSYR, adolescent-parent relationships were measured using 12 indicators from the NSYR, such as “how close do you feel to your mother?” or “how often do you talk to your father?” Adolescent religiosity was also measured using 12 indicators from the NSYR, such as “how important is religious faith in shaping how you live your daily life?” or “how often do you pray by yourself alone?” Exploratory factor analysis reveled two major factors describing adolescent religiosity: adolescent religious importance and adolescent respect for religion. The EFA also revealed three factors for adolescent-parent relationships: mother-adolescent relationships, father-adolescent relationships, and parental visitation. These factors were tested against the two factors of adolescent religiosity to determine the effect of adolescent-parent relationships on adolescent religiosity. While parental visitation did not have a significant effect on adolescent religiosity, the study determined that adolescent-parent relationships have a positive effect on adolescent religiosity of adolescents 17-24 years old. The closer an adolescent of this age is to their parents the more likely they are to have respect for religion and find it important. However, adolescent-parent relationships are not the only indicators of adolescent religiosity. Faith development theory states that as adolescents grow they begin to think abstractly. This growth allows them to make their own decisions on abstract subjects such as religious belief (King & Roeser, 2009). Further research can explore other impacts on adolescent religiosity from ages 17-24 and examine how abstract thought impacts religious development. The findings in this study provide researchers and practitioners a glimpse into the influences of religion on older adolescents. This presentation will shine a light on these influences and suggest ways that these findings can be implemented into practice.