There is no shocker in this news article title: Study: Religion is Good For Kids.
According to surveys of parents and teachers, the most well-adjusted and well-behaved children have parents who agree on religion and attend services regularly (which I assume means closer to once-a-week than every-Christmas-and-Easter).
The study did not address which denominations had the best behaved kids, but I can guess that Bible Baptist parents have the most polite kids with lots of “Yes, Ma’am”s and “No, Sir”s. I hope nobody spends a lot of money doing a survey to conclude what is pretty obvious from free observation.
Buried at the very bottom of the article was one huge caveat:
It’s also possible that the correlation between religion and child development is the other way around, he said. In other words, instead of religion having a positive effect on youth, maybe the parents of only the best behaved children feel comfortable in a religious congregation.
“There are certain expectations about children’s behavior within a religious context, particularly within religious worship services,” he said. These expectations might frustrate parents, he said, and make congregational worship “a less viable option if they feel their kids are really poorly behaved.”
Yes, I suppose it’s possible that organized religion is driving away all those bad kids. You know, on the one hand they’ll preach that you’ll go to hell if you don’t come to church, but on the other hand they’ll tell you that your brat isn’t welcome there. I could see that, sure. Because limiting access to Heaven and making it a private club is really what it’s all about! (But that’s okay: I’m in! I’m in!)
Yes, I’m sure it’s because churches make bad kids feel unwelcome that inspires parents of good children to suddenly start going to church for no reason whatsoever. I’m sure the behavior correlation has little to do with a parent’s sense of right and wrong, the teaching of consequences for our behavior and personal responsibility for our actions, and the emphasis on treating others as we wish to be treated out of love and honor for God (and not just because we happen to be in a good mood at the time).
But if this is the case, then there are a whole lot of parents who aren’t getting the message. Just stand in the back or the vestibule during any Catholic Mass and you’ll see lots of frustrated parents with poorly behaved children. That’s where you’ll find me!