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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2013 Sep;68(5):825-36. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbt070. Epub 2013 Aug 1.

Religion and ties between adult children and their parents.

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  • 1Department of Sociology, The Pennsylvania State University, 211 Oswald Tower, University Park, PA 16802, USA.



This study examined whether religious adults (measured by the frequency of attendance at religious services) report more extensive ties with their parents.


Using data from the National Survey of Families and Households (N = 9,002), a series of bivariate and multivariate regression models were tested. Several dimensions of adult children's relationships with their parents were considered including relationship quality, frequency of contact, providing care to parents, and providing other assistance.


Adult children who attended religious services more frequently were significantly more likely to provide assistance to parents, and they reported higher quality relationships and more frequent contact with both their fathers and mothers. Results were similar for sons and daughters, and for younger and older adult children.


A better understanding of what motivates and fosters strong ties between adult children and their parents is vitally important given the "graying" of America and the consequences of such ties for the health and well-being of both generations. Religion is only one of many factors associated with adult children's ties to parents, and this association is generally modest, but it is an important factor that should be given greater attention in future research.


Family sociology; Intergenerational relations; Religion/spirituality.

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