Study Finds Children Fare Best in Intact Married Families that Worship Weekly

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Writer 

A new study released today by Family Research Council’s Mapping America Project finds that children have fewer problems at home and at school when they live with both biological parents and frequently attend religious services.

The new study, coauthored by Drs. Nicholas Zill, founding president of Child Trends, and research psychologist Philip Fletcher, analyzes data from the National Survey of Children’s Health.

Among its more remarkable findings: children in this group are five times less likely to repeat a grade, less likely to have behavior problems at home and school, and are more likely to be cooperative and understanding of others’ feelings.

Parents of these children report less stress, healthier parent-child relationships, and fewer concerns about their children’s achievement.

These differences hold up even after controlling for family income and poverty, low parent education levels, and race and ethnicity.

 “This new study further illustrates that children thrive most when living in an intact married family that worships weekly,” said Patrick Fagan, Ph.D., senior fellow and the director of FRC’s Center for Family and Religion. Fewer behavioral problems, less stress, healthier relationships and greater educational achievement are all benefits of this strong family structure.

“Social science data continue to demonstrate overwhelmingly that the intact married family that worships weekly is the greatest generator of human goods and social benefits and is the core strength of the United States. Policy makers should strongly consider whether their policy proposals give support to such a family structure. Children are not the only beneficiaries but also their parents, families, communities, and all of society.”

A copy of the study can be downloaded at

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