Religion, Relationships, and Responsible Fathering in Latter-Day Saint Families of Children with Special Needs


fatherhood, fathering, spirituality


The issue of responsible and involved fathering has inspired a growing body of scholarship, policy, and interventions. However, religious communities, practices, and beliefs have been overlooked as potential factors in encouraging responsible, involved fathering. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 19 Latter-day Saint (LDS, Mormon) fathers of children with special needs and analyzed to examine the meaning of religion in relation to responsible, involved fathering for these fathers and their families. Findings are presented in connection with three dimensions of religion: religious community, religious practices, and religious beliefs. Although the fathers' experiences with religion were sometimes challenging, religion was meaningful and influential for the fathers in supporting them in their efforts to be responsible and relational. Data reflecting father-child benefits and challenges associated with the three dimensions of religion are reported. Core constructs of the three dimensions of religion, based on the fathers' narratives, are also presented.

Original Publication Citation

Marks, L. D., & Dollahite, D. C. (2001). Religion, relationships, and responsible fathering in Latter-day Saint families of children with special needs. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 18, 625-650.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Journal of Social and Personal Relationships




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor