Tenn. --- Most American parents feel their parenting skills and family life are pretty
good, but they are reluctant to describe their homes as peaceful, relaxed or
joyful and their daily family time consists mostly of eating dinner and
watching television, according to a new study from LifeWay Research. While most
parents are trying to improve their skills, far fewer look to the church or the
Bible for help.
The national survey of 1,200 parents with children under 18 at home was
conducted by LifeWay Research, the research arm of LifeWay Christian Resources
of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The study found that 96 percent of parents agree they consistently try to be
better parents. Fifty-eight percent agree strongly and 38 percent agree
somewhat with this statement.
“Parents claim they are trying hard to be better parents but they are not
welcoming outside guidance or advice,” said Scott McConnell, associate director
of LifeWay Research and co-author with Rodney and Selma Wilson of The Parent
Adventure, just released from B&H Publishing Group, with complementary
teaching and learning resources from LifeWay Church Resources. “The only source
of advice that a majority of parents use a lot is their own experience. It’s as
if parents are collectively reverting to a popular toddler saying, ‘I will do
Sixty percent of parents look a lot to their own experiences growing up as
their source of guidance on parenting and another 31 percent do so to some
By comparison, 21 percent indicate they receive a lot of guidance from a sacred
text and 15 percent depend a lot on a church. A full 61 percent completely
ignore parenting seminars and 53 percent have no use for books by religious
Only 14 percent indicate they are very familiar with what the Bible has to say
about parenting, the research revealed. Twenty-seven percent of Protestant
parents are very familiar with what the Bible has to say about parenting
compared to only 7 percent of Catholic parents. Among parents with evangelical
beliefs, 52 percent say they are very familiar with the Bible’s parenting
A large majority of the parents describe their home environment as supportive
(74 percent), positive (71 percent), encouraging (69 percent) and active (69
percent). At the same time, however, 61 percent are unwilling to describe their
homes as peaceful, 49 percent as relaxed and 43 percent as joyful.
While 57 percent of the parents say their families eat dinner together on a
daily basis and 45 percent indicate they watch television together each day,
only 53 percent report they pray together at least monthly and just 31 percent
report having religious devotionals or studies together at least monthly.
More than 80 percent of parents rate family life – the quality of family
communication, time spent with each other, treating each other with respect –
as good to excellent. Thirty percent, however, indicate their family’s spiritual
life is only fair or poor.
A full 92 percent of parents agree they need encouragement, the study found.
Almost 10 percent say they need help with parenting and 11 percent indicate
they have nowhere to turn for encouragement.
Among parents who attend religious worship services weekly, 38 percent indicate
they get no encouragement from a sacred text such as the Bible, Torah or Koran
and 24 percent report getting no encouragement from their church or place of
worship. Forty-three percent of Protestant parents and 85 percent of Catholic
parents do not receive encouragement from a sacred text. As for their church,
39 percent of Protestant parents and 71 percent of Catholic parents say it is
not a source of encouragement as a parent.
McConnell concluded, “Christians are routinely neglecting biblical guidance and
encouragement in their parenting today, relying instead on their own personal
POST YOUR COMMENTS BELOW