God, family, religion, attachment, authority


As more Americans continue to move away from an institutional approach to religion and spirituality to a more personal approach, it is important to explore the ways that personal perspectives about God influence various aspects of life including family life. This study explored how participants viewed and experienced God as an authority figure (Directive Transcendence), as a close confidant (Intimate Transcendence), or as both (Authoritative Transcendence). In-depth interviews with 198 religious families from across America were analyzed using a team-based qualitative approach. These analyses revealed that participants experienced God as both an authority figure and as a close confidant. Both types of experiences are associated with family relationships in different ways. Concepts relating to ideas of authority, parenting styles, and attachment theory are used to help understand familial impacts from how one experiences God.

Original Publication Citation

*Dalton, H., Dollahite, D., & Marks, L. D. (2018). Transcendent matters: Do the ways family members experience God meaningfully relate to family life? Review of Religious Research, 60, 23-47.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Review of Religious Research




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor