Practical Ideas From Our Research For Youth
By Hilary Dalton, Jeanine Bell, and Jordyn Carter
Hilary Dalton, one of the key contributors, was invited to work with students to put together a list of ideas from publishable articles that would be beneficial to religious youth and those that work with them. Below is a list of the categories of helpful ideas, with links to pages with more information and quotes as examples of how other faithful youth have found these ideas to be helpful.
There are many different ways for a youth to go about exploring his/her religious beliefs. Many resources are available to youth in the process of figuring out their religious identity. Youth can begin by exploring different alternatives, followed by making a commitment. As youth continue to explore that commitment, it is important to think about how well it seems to fit them and who they want to become. Youth need to continue to explore and commit both outside and within their religion as they try to figure out what best fits them personally in their religious identity.
The quote below demonstrates a personal example of how religion can be a catalyst for youth to explore their religious identity:
Youth often give up something valuable for something else that could be more valuable (Dollahite, Layton, Bahr, Walker, & Thatcher, 2009). The majority of today’s adolescents are focused on their individual needs. Youth who are religious sacrifice things of value in order to meet their personal desire to be happy, but they also go beyond themselves and sacrifice as part of what they believe. They sacrifice many worldly comforts for many spiritual reasons. These sacrifices may include: societal expectations, popular culture, comforts and pleasure, time and activities, and peer relations.
The quote below demonstrates a personal example of how sacrifice is common among religious youth:
Youth sacrifice for many different reasons. Sometimes they are asked to sacrifice and sometimes they do so without being asked. They also sacrifice in different areas of life and reasons for each area of life may vary. Some reasons youth may have to sacrifice include: (1) Connecting to a higher meaning or purpose, (2) Connecting to God, (3) Connecting to a faith tradition or community, (4) Fulfilling expectations, (5) Feeling affective benefits, and (6) Avoiding problems (Dollahite, Layton, Bahr, Walker, & Thatcher, 2009).
The quote below demonstrates a personal example of a reason a youth gave for sacrifice:
Attending church is part of being religious for many youth. The frequency of attendance varies across youth. However, when youth consistently attend church and/or become active in their faith, they can experience several benefits including: (1) Staying away from bad influences or harmful circumstances, (2) Experience grounded faith leading to lessened despair , and (3) Learning the power of prayer (Dollahite & Marks, 2009; Marks & Dollahite, 2011).
The quote below demonstrates a personal example of how church attendance can be beneficial for youth:
Conflict is a part of family relationships. There are many ways that youth can contribute to conflict resolution with and forgiveness of family members when conflict occurs. Some of these ways include participating in religious practices – both on their own and with family members. Conflict resolution and forgiveness can be facilitated as youth participate in prayer, religious holiday traditions, and religious services, among other religious practices (Batson & Marks, 2008; Dollahite & Marks, 2009).
The quote below demonstrates a personal example of how religious practices can facilitate conflict resolution and forgiveness among family members:
Prayer is one of many religious practices that is part of a youth’s religious identities. Prayer was so ingrained in some youth, that they relied on prayer to get them through hard times, and found strength when the family prayed together during those hard times. Prayer is a religious practice that youth can participate in outside of church and many youth would pray whenever they felt the need to do so. Prayer was also found to unite families (Layton, Dollahite, & Hardy, 2011; Marks & Dollahite, 2011).
The quote below demonstrates a personal example of how prayer is part of a youth’s religious identity:
The most engaging and helpful religious conversations between parents and youth occur when parents employ a more youth-centered style. Findings suggest that youth-centered conversations are the most engaging, enjoyable, and effective in helping adolescents understand their parents’ religiosity and explore their own religious beliefs (Dollahite & Thatcher, 2008). When parents and youth have open communication, youth are better able to express the questions and topics they have on their mind. When youth and parents are able to talk about the intersection of faith and family life in a youth-centered fashion, youth are better able to understand what their parents try to teach them, have a stronger relationship with their children, and youth are better able to enjoy interactions with their parents as they explore their religious beliefs.
The quote below demonstrates a personal example of how youth-centered conversations between parents and children can be beneficial:
An anchor is something that provides one with a firm foundation and security in one’s position (Layton, Dollahite, & Hardy, 2011). There are many things that can anchor a youth to their religious commitment, which has consistently been linked to an increase in positive outcomes such as prosocial behavior and a decrease in negative outcomes such as risk taking and psychological disorders. Youth who are able to be anchored to their faith are able to develop morally, figure out who they are, and improve family relationships. These anchors include a youth’s commitment to: (1) religious rituals, (2) God, (3) faith tradition or denomination, (4) faith community members, (5) parents, (6) scripture or sacred texts, and (7) religious leaders.
The quote below demonstrates a personal example of how youth can be secured to their faith:
Religious anchors can help youth overcome challenges they experience in life. These challenges can be personal, familial, or even be experienced on a community level. Being anchored in one’s religion can help youth to trust that they will receive the help and support they need, to trust that the outcome will be good for them, and to feel that someone cares (Tausch, et al., 2011).
The quote below demonstrates a personal example of how religion can help a youth overcome challenges life may bring: