This study tests a model of individual differences in God concepts among kindergarteners, based on social learning and projection theory. Relations among maternal education, religious denomination, God concepts, child-rearing practices, and young children's God concepts were examined. Subjects were 363 Dutch preschoolers (mean age = 66 months) and 271 of their mothers belonging to three religious denominations (open Christian, orthodox Christian, and nonaffiliated). Child-rearing practices as well as God concepts were measured using questionnaires. God concepts were operationalized as ideas about potential characteristics of God. The model was partly supported. Maternal orthodox Christian denomination, God concepts, and child-rearing practices all had effects on children's “potent God” concept, confirming all parts of the model. Differences in children's “punishing God” concept were explained by strict child-rearing practices, providing evidence for projection theory only. Children's “loving and caring God” concepts were predicted by mothers’“loving God” concept, lending support for social learning theory.
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Document Type: Research Article
Jurjen Iedema is Researcher and Methodologist in the Social and Cultural Planning Office, The Hague.
Siebren Miedema is Professor of Educational Foundations and Professor of Christian Education in the Department of Philosophy and History of Education, and Dean of the Faculty of Psychology and Education, Free University Amsterdam.
Publication date: 2004-12-01