Parent-Child Dynamics and Emerging Adult Religiosity: Attachment, Parental Beliefs, and Faith Support

Kathleen C. Leonard
Kaye V. Cook
Chris J. Boyatzis, Bucknell University
Cynthia Neal Kimball
Kelly S. Flanagan


Parental religiosity has been shown to predict child and adolescent religiosity, but the role of parents in emerging adult religiosity is largely unknown. We explored associations among emerging adult religiosity, perceived parental religiosity, perceived similarity to mother's and to father's religious beliefs, parental faith support, and parental attachment. Participants were 481 alumni of two Christian colleges and completed surveys online. Emerging adult religiosity (measured by Christian orthodoxy and intrinsic religiosity) was high and similar to parents' religiosity. Perceived similarity to parents' religious beliefs, faith support, and attachment to fathers predicted emerging adult religiosity. However, parental religiosity alone was a weak predictor and functioned as a negative suppressor variable when combined with similarity to parents' beliefs and faith support. Findings underscore the importance of parental support and parent-child relationship dynamics more than the level of parental religiosity and point to possibly unique roles for mothers and fathers in emerging adult religiosity.