Christians Suffer from Lower Parenting Anxiety than Non-Christians, Research Says

A man with a bag on his back looks at the sky.
A man with a bag on his back looks at the sky.
By Christine Lau September 9th, 2021

A researcher said that Christians’ beliefs influenced parenting ideas, which made Christian parents different from non-Christian ones in terms of parenting time and benefits. 

In the series of lectures on the religious harness, Du Weiquan, an associate researcher at the School of Social and Population Studies at the Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications, delivered a lecture titled “Does Christian Faith Influence Ways of Parenting? - Qualitative Research on Christian Family Parenting Ideas, Practices and Benefits” at the 2021 Academic Annual Conference of the Chinese Sociological Association conducted in Chongqing in middle July. 

The sub-forum of Sociology of Religion in the 2021 conference, hosted by the Chinese Sociological Society, was held on July 17. 

Through a literature review, Du divided the evolution of family parenting style in China into three stages. Firstly, in the traditional social period, the belief was that “the mother is loving and the father is controlling” and “boys are preferred over girls”. Secondly, the period of command economy was the stage of defamilisation, and equality between men and women emerged. Thirdly, in the market economy period, the traditional “care” function was replaced by the “education” function, and parents’ responsibility began to diversify.

In order to explore the concept and benefits of Chinese Christians’ parenting, he conducted qualitative research by interviewing 21 Christian parents and eight non-Christian parents.

In terms of parenting knowledge, the non-Christian parents were generally lacking in the knowledge and hadn’t studied it in much depth. Even if they learned parenting knowledge, their learning sources varied, and there were many marketing efforts on selling “anxiety” to mislead the parents. The parenting knowledge of Christian parents mainly came from the Christian faith or the teaching of the Bible.

From the concept of parenting, non-Christian family education paid more attention to children’s academic achievements. The ultimate goal was that their children would succeed. Christian parents paid more attention to basic education, which was the so-called cultivation of character, as a measure of God’s children who could show reverence, gratitude, confession, and so on.

When it came to parenting practices, Christian couples were more involved in joint efforts. Although there were differences in the amount of time spent on children between a husband and wife, the absence of fathers was much rarer than non-Christian parents. Parents brought faith guidance to their children through words and deeds. They had high hopes for their children’s faith, but they would not force their children to accept the faith. Generally speaking, Christian parents’ child-rearing anxiety was lower because Christian parents wanted to train God’s children more, and paid more attention to character rather than utilitarianism to train successful people.

In regards to child-rearing benefits, college students who were trained under high pressure since childhood by non-Christian parents were more susceptible to suffering from “emptiness”, resulting in weariness and even dropping out of college. The logic of raising a child to “look for a good job and get a high income” might not work as it was expected.

The parenting style of Christian parents was conducive to children’s self-recognition, which was very helpful to their growth, making their life meaningful and improving their parent-child relationships.

Du concluded that Christians’ beliefs influenced their parenting ideas, which made them different from non-Christian parents in terms of parenting time and benefits. Basic education and the sanctification of daily life were conducive to reducing the anxiety of parenting and paying attention to fathers’ responsibilities in parenting. It was worth promoting.

- Translated by Charlie Li

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