A study on the relationship between parental religious involvement and child development in Hong Kong

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A study on the relationship between parental religious involvement and child development in Hong Kong

 

Author: Yeung, Wai-keung Jerf
Title: A study on the relationship between parental religious involvement and child development in Hong Kong
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2011
Subject: Parenting -- Religious aspects -- Christianity.
Child rearing -- Religious aspects -- Christianity.
Parent and child -- Religious aspects -- Christianity.
Child development -- China -- Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Applied Social Sciences
Pages: xvi, 261 p. : ill. ; 30 cm.
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2462575
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/6316
Abstract: Along with the history of human beings, religion has long been an important dimension of life. Albeit as early as Max Weber (1930) and Emile Durkheim (1951), two great sociologists of religion, proposed close linkages between religion and societal phenomena as well as social issues, religious research, nevertheless, has long not yet been received a substantial concern by social scientists, partly due to the amorphous nature in operationalizing the concept of religion. With the help of advance in social research methods and statistical modeling procedures in recent years, the pendulum has swung back to study religious effects. However, much is still unknown about the role of parents' religious involvement in Christianity in relation to their psychological health, family socialization and child development, although limited research in the West generally pointed out the beneficial effects of religious involvement on family well-being. Against this background, the current study attempted to investigate how parents' religious involvement influences their psychological health, family functioning in terms of family processes and parenting practices, as well as child psychosocial maturity and developmental problems in a Chinese sample of parent-child pairs in Hong Kong, where Christians share 11.9% of the total population. Of the 223 Chinese families took part in the study through the help of 43 local churches situating in different districts in Hong Kong, the findings generated from structural equation modeling (SEM) analysis consistently showed a good data-model fit for the respective structural models, in which Model 1 tested the relationships between parents' religious involvement and children's internalizing problems, Model 2 tested the relationships between parents' religious involvement and children's externalizing problems, and Model 3, the final model, tested the above-mentioned relationships but treated child outcome as a latent construct by loading both children's internalizing and externalizing problems on it.
In testing the casual relationships, SEM analysis did found direct positive effects of parents' religious involvement on parental psychological health and family functioning, as well as the positive effects of family functioning on child psychosocial maturity across the three models. However, the direct positive effects of parental psychological health on family functioning was not supported, which is believed to be shared in variance by religious effects, and the direct effects of family functioning on children's developmental problems were only partially supported, which is considered to be a result of the difference in the nature of family processes and parenting practices. Furthermore, and noteworthy, child psychosocial maturity was an important variable significantly and proximally mediating the relationships from family functioning to children's developmental problems. More complicated is that results attested positive family processes spilling over to enhance parenting practices. On the other hand, the two demographic covariates, family SES and child age, were insignificant in prediction of children's developmental outcomes across all analyses, which incur a postulate of the compensating function of religious involvement for unfavorable family resources, and self-selecting behaviors of participatory families for limited variance in children's problems symptoms, as well as constraint on research design, all of which are beyond the scope and capacity of the current PhD study. Lastly, implications for service practices and future research orientations were discussed.

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