Religion and Development in Childhood and Adolescence

  • James M. Nelson

The study of childhood religion and spirituality has had little place in either Christian theology or child psychology (Boyatzis, 2003; Benson, Roehlkepartain, & Rude, 2003). This is surprising, as psychologists since the time of G. Stanley Hall have recognized that childhood and adolescence are important periods in religious development, and the nurturance of children has been an important concern of Christian work, particularly during the Reformation and in the 20th century (Bunge, 2001, pp. 3–11). This lack of attention to children and adolescents is unwarranted, for if one defines spirituality as a craving for transcendence and meaning, then certainly children have a strong spiritual nature. They seek these things and experience awe and wonder as much or more than adults (Ratcliff & May, 2004). Nevertheless, some good empirical research exists on the topic, which we will examine in this chapter.


Identity Development Secure Attachment Religious Experience Religious Involvement Authoritative Parenting 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • James M. Nelson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyValparaiso UniversityValparaisoUSA

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