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Religious Upbringing Is Good For Children’s Health and Well-Being, Says Harvard Research




  • A research conducted by a team of experts in Harvard tells us religious upbringing benefits children into their adult years.
  • Apparently, children who grew up having regular prayer and church attendance have higher levels of happiness compared with those who don’t.
  • Individuals raised in religious settings also exhibited lower tendencies of depression or using illicit drugs.

Parents making the effort to raise their children in a religious setting will be glad to know that, according to Harvard, doing so can contribute to their kids’ physical and mental well-being later on in life.

In a research conducted by the Harvard T.H, Chan School of Public Health and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, we learn that individuals who attended weekly religious services along with those who prayed or meditated daily in their younger years are happier and have higher satisfaction in life in their 20s. These people are less likely to smoke, use drugs, exhibit depression symptoms, or have sexually transmitted diseases.

Ying Chen, one of the authors, said in a university press release:

“These findings are important for both our understanding of health and our understanding of parenting practices. Many children are raised religiously, and our study shows that this can powerfully affect their health behaviors, mental health, and overall happiness and well-being.”

As the paper tells us:

“The results showed that people who attended religious services at least weekly in childhood and adolescence were approximately 18% more likely to report higher happiness as young adults (ages 23–30) than those who never attended services. They were also 29% more likely to volunteer in their communities and 33% less likely to use illicit drugs.

“Those who prayed or meditated at least daily while growing up were 16% more likely to report higher happiness as young adults, 30% less likely to have started having sex at a young age, and 40% less likely to have a sexually transmitted infection compared to those who never prayed or meditated.

Meanwhile, DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation director Emilie Kao pointed out:

“I think they’re consistent with other research that we’ve seen that shows religious beliefs give people spiritual strengths that lead to healthy habits and build their social networks and gives them the ability to overcome obstacles in their lives.”

Senior author Tyler VanderWeele also added:

“While decisions about religion are not shaped principally by health, for adolescents who already hold religious beliefs, encouraging service attendance and private practices may be meaningful avenues to protect against some of the dangers of adolescence, including depression, substance abuse, and risk taking. In addition, these practices may positively contribute to happiness, volunteering, a greater sense of mission and purpose, and to forgiveness.”

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