Two new research studies indicate that children who have spiritual lives tend to be happy and well adjusted.
A University of British Columbia study found that children who feel that their lives have meaning are happier than their peers. However, religious practices such as attending church did not affect their happiness.
Professor Mark Holder and his colleagues surveyed 320 Canadian children (ages 8 to 12) and their parents about the children's temperaments, religious practices, and spirituality. Outgoing children tended to be happier than shy ones, and children who had spiritual values such as being kind to others were more likely to be happy.
This was the first study of young children. Previous studies have found a link between teenagers' happiness and spirituality.
A second study, from the National Center for Health Statistics in the United States, indicated that children who live in two-parent families and who regularly attend religious services are less likely to have problems at home or in school.
Specifically, these children were 5.5 times less likely to repeat a grade and 2.5 times less likely to be reported by school officials for conduct or academic problems than were children who did not live in two-parent homes or attend religious services. It did not matter whether the parents were biological or adoptive.
The NCHS study used surveys of more than 100,000 children and their parents. The results were the same regardless of the child's family income, parental education, or race.