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Quick Question  

Are there more hugs or spankings 
in Evangelical families?

The quick answer: 
 They are both equal in measure, according to recent research on conservative Christian home practices.

The longer answer:  In contrast to unflattering media and scholarly depictions that cast evangelicals as authoritarian and abusive parents, we find that conservative Protestant caregivers mix elements of authority-minded parenting and affectionate child-rearing. The authority-minded strand of evangelical child-rearing is clearly manifested in the premium that evangelical parents place on children’s obedience and the more frequent use of corporal punishment in conservative Protestant households. 

At the same time, we find that evangelical parents hug and praise their children more while yelling at their youngsters less than other parents. And quite notably, conservative Protestant fathers have a more prominent place in rearing their children than do other fathers. In sum, evangelicals bring together traditional and progressive parenting styles by emphasizing both clear lines of authority in the home and abundant displays of affection with their youngsters. 

Our latest research also shows that evangelical children are not harmed—and, in many cases, are benefited—by being raised in homes where authority and affection are woven together in a seamless fashion.

In a series of studies, we have examined the contours of conservative Protestant (or evangelical) parenting and child discipline. Among its other distinctive features, American evangelicalism is characterized by a commitment to the inerrancy of the Bible, a belief in the inherent sinfulness of human nature, and the view that a born-again conversion experience and the establishment of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ are necessary for salvation. Our research explores how membership within this religious subculture promotes a parenting style that melds traditional and progressive child-rearing strategies.

For more information on these studies, please go to our page dedicated to this project.

You may also want to visit our section on Religion and the Family for more articles, research, and links.

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