To talk about sacred text in our home, this week we are joined by Drs. David Dollahite and Loren Marks, two professors at the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University. They have worked for years on a research project called American Families of Faith, which has given them a great deal of insight into the lives of families who are active in all different kinds of faiths and how these families have used reading sacred texts in their family life, which is what chatted with them about.
In “Holy Script!” Sacred text in the home we talk about:
1. What the American Families of Faith Project does and some of what their research has shown them.
2. What exactly are sacred texts? Each religion considers differently, but in general, for Muslims it is the Koran and the deeds and writings of the prophet Muhammad, for Jewish people it is the Torah and Talmud, Christians have the Old and New Testament, etc.
3. Developmental psychologists pretty much agree that ages 0-6 are the most developmentally for children. Keeping that in mind, may times we underestimate our young children and with some guidance, enthusiasm explanation and perhaps most importantly, some stories and narrative, these kids are capable of gaining surprising depth in their understanding of faith. Reading these religious texts with our kids, whether it is the actual texts or more kid-friendly versions, adds another level to the bonding and development that already occurs when we read other stories with our children.
4. What about our kids who are older than six? Even if those early years are the building of children’s developmental foundations, the doctors have found in their research that there is “explosive building” on that foundation in the ensuing years, even into early adulthood. This is the time that children will start to ask questions and our dialogue with them becomes rich and interactive. We also need to remember that our traditions and ways of going about things like reading sacred text in the home with our children will change and evolve as our children grow. We may continue to do it through the years, but exactly how it is done will look different year to year.
5. Based on their own experience as well as their research, they have found that these studies work best when there is an open dialogue between children and their parents. Both parents and youth enjoyed conversations about religious things more when they were initiated by the youth, when parents found ways to relate the conversation to the youth rather than abstract theology, when the parents kept their parts brief and more. They give us plenty of great ideas for this type of reading with our older kids!
6. Reading religious texts is something that can benefit from taking the time to personally prepare for those times we do it as a family, but, recognizing that the phase of actively raising children is a time- and energy-consuming one, do not discount the study and preparation you have done in this area leading up to this time of your life.
7. Families with interfaith relationships may need to go about things differently, but to successfully include religious texts in your family’s habits, the different members must learn to respect the views and beliefs that each other hold. This also is a huge part of what goes into adult children’s decisions to stay with their family’s faith or not- the relationships and respect of the family they grew up in.
Drs. Dollahite and Marks left us with a couple of great ideas of how to get started on putting their insights into practice this week with sacred text in the home. Dr. Dollahite invited us to prayerfully consider the way that we are engaging in sacred texts personally and in our marriage and parenting, and ask if what they are doing is enough and be open to the possibility that perhaps there might be an adjustment might be worth trying. Dr. Marks invited us to be gracious and patient with ourselves and our efforts in this area and to remember that even when we fail, which will be more often than we want, the successes will be worth it.
In this episode we mention:
We are so grateful to Dr. Dollahite and Dr. Marks for taking the time to talk with us! More information about them and the American Families of Faith Project can be found in the following places:
Religion and Families: An Introduction by Loren D Marks and David C Dollahite
The Quran (Pictured here is a book of selections)
Additional Articles and Research:
Strengths in Diverse Families of Faith – Provides an overview of many topics discussed in our conversation
How Religion Promotes Positive Parent-Youth Relationships and Youth Spiritual Development:
Dollahite, D. C., & Marks, L. D. (2019). Positive youth religious and spiritual development: What we have learned from religious families. Religions, 10, 548. doi:10.3390/rel10100548
Dollahite, D. C., Marks, L. D., Babcock, K. P., Barrow, B. H., & Rose, A. H. (2019). Beyond religious rigidities: Religious firmness and religious flexibility as complementary loyalties in faith transmission. Religions, 10, 111; doi:10.3390/rel10020111
Dollahite, D. C., Marks, L. D., Kear, T. M., Lewis, B. M., & Stokes, M. L. (2018). Beyond the bucket list: Identity-centered religious calling, being, and action among parents. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 10, 44-54. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/rel0000130
Dollahite, D. C., & Thatcher, J. Y. (2008). Talking about religion: How religious youth and parents discuss their faith. Journal of Adolescent Research, 23, 611-641. doi:10.1177/0743558408322141
Layton, E., Hardy, S. A., & Dollahite, D. C. (2012). Religious exploration among highly religious American adolescents. Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research, 12, 157–184. doi:10.1080/15283488.2012.668728
Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation:
Dollahite, D. C., Marks, L. D., & Barrow, B. H. (2019). Exploring relational reconciliation processes in Christian, Jewish, and Muslim families. Family Relations, 68, 517-533. doi:10.111/fare.12371
Lambert N. M., & Dollahite, D. C. (2006). How religiosity helps couples prevent, resolve, and overcome marital conflict. Family Relations, 55, 439-449. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2006.00413.x
Don’t miss our previous episode, Interactive Journaling in the New Year with author Paula Spencer Scott