Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Parents-Spiritual life, Parents-Religious life, Parenting-Religious aspects, Spirituality, Self-perception, Religion, Identity, Parenting


The rate at which American adults are changing religious affiliations and/or incorporating multiple religious/spiritual traditions at once to suit their individual needs is growing rapidly and changing the traditional religious landscape. Three new categories of religiosity/spirituality have been identified in the literature: being both religious and spiritual, spiritual but not religious, or religious but not spiritual. This qualitative study explored how parents that self identified as having a religious/spiritual identity made meaning of these identities and how these identities influenced their parents. The majority of participants identified as being both religious and spiritual, followed by spiritual and religious and lastly religious but not spiritual. The majority of participants that selfidentified as both religious and spiritual associated their religious identity with the religion of their childhood, e.g., shared beliefs, rituals and community. The spiritual identity for the majority was associated with an ongoing personal search for a connection with a higher power that retained what was valued from this childhood experience and incorporated ideas from other religious/spiritual belief systems. For a smaller subset in this group, spirituality was associated with what had to be taken on faith in their religion, e.g., the connection with a higher power. Those who were spiritual and not religious and vice versa did not have a childhood religious tradition. Both their spiritual and religious identities were part of their search in adulthood for a connection with a higher power. All groups demonstrated a strong connection between their religiosity/spirituality and their parenting.




[iv], 126 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 106-119)