Sunday, June 15, 2008

Faith Of Our Fathers

In Friday's WSJ, W. Bradford Wilcox showed that regularly attending church not only makes men better husbands, but better fathers as well:

Religion continues to have a significant influence, even in today's culture, as I explain in a report on faith, fatherhood and marriage published by the Institute for American Values earlier this week. Religious faith is linked to happier marriages, fewer divorces and births outside of marriage, and a more involved style of fatherhood.

Take marital happiness. About 65% of married Americans who attend church regularly are "very happy" in their marriages, compared with 58% of married Americans who rarely or never attend. Note that the marital happiness premium is larger for couples who attend church together. Indeed, wives get a boost in marital happiness from attendance only when they worship with their husbands.

Religious Americans are also less likely to divorce. Specifically, Americans who attend religious services regularly are about 35% less likely to divorce than are their married peers who rarely or never attend services. Once again, couples who attend together are especially unlikely to split.

Religion is also linked to lower rates of nonmarital childbearing. Only 25% of mothers who attended church weekly had a child outside of wedlock, compared with 34% of mothers who attended monthly or less. Moreover, unmarried couples who attend religious services together are significantly less likely to have a child outside of marriage than are couples who don't attend together or don't attend at all.

The report also reveals that religious fathers are more likely to devote time, attention and affection to their children than their secular peers. For example, compared with dads who indicate no religious affiliation, fathers who attend religious services regularly devote at least two more hours per week to youth-related activities, such as coaching soccer or leading a Boy Scout troop. Churchgoing fathers are also significantly more likely to keep tabs on their children, monitoring their activities and friends. Finally, religious fathers are about 65% more likely than unaffiliated fathers to report praising and hugging their school-age children "very often."

So religion tends to make you a better man? It's interesting that today we need reports and studies to tell us what people have known in their hearts for thousands of years.

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