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Mother, Father, and Self: Sources of Young Adults' God Concepts

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Following developmental attachment theory, we predicted a path in which nurturing parents affect young adults' self-concepts and self-esteem, which in turn predicts the image of a nurturing God. To ascertain how images of parents and images of self predict God images, 132 young adults aged 18–22 (M = 19) completed the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale, and a six-item measure of God's perceived involvement in their lives (religiosity scale). In a follow-up interview, they rated their parents, God, and selves on scales of closeness, nurturing, power, and punishing/judging. For men, mothers were responsible, more than fathers, for creating a climate for sons' self-esteem through nurturance and discipline, which in turn contributed to seeing God as nurturing, feeling close to God, and being more religious. For women, mothers and fathers created a model of nurturance and power, which contributed to seeing God as nurturing and powerful. Punishing/judging parents directly affected punishing/judging God images in these young adults. Men perceived God to be more punishing/judging than did women, while women perceived God to be more nurturing. Even in adulthood, parents, especially mothers, continue to exert influences on young adults' faith and images of God.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Jane R. Dickie is a Professor of Psychology and Director of Women's Studies at Hope College, Holland, MI 49423., Email: [email protected] 2: Lindsey V. Ajega is a home manager for Heritage Homes, Holland, MI., Email: [email protected] 3: Joy R. Kobylak is a social worker with West Ottawa Public Schools, Holland, MI., Email: [email protected] 4: Kathryn M. Nixon is a case manager for Allendale Association in Lake Villa, IL., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2006-03-01

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