growth, children, family, spirituality, religion, family life, therapy


Our chapter addresses how the family promotes or hinders transcendence of the self in children, that is, how the family is a context in which spiritual development occurs. Due to space limitations, our emphasis is on socialization and interaction processes within the family and not on other issues such as psychodynamic processes (e.g., Rizzuto, 1979) or faith development (e.g., Fowler, 1981). There are many motivations to explore family socialization of religious and spiritual development. One, family spirituality and religiosity are linked with many desirable outcomes and inversely with negative outcomes in children and youth. (Other chapters in this volume examine these issues.) Two, therapists and family life educators are increasingly addressing spirituality and religion (Richards & Bergin, 1997). Three, religion is an important, even central force in many families (Dollahite, Marks, & Goodman, 2004).

Original Publication Citation

Boyatzis, C., Dollahite, D. C., & Marks, L. D. (2006). The family as a context for religious and spiritual development in children and youth. In E. C. Roehlkepartain, P. E. King, L. Wagener, & P. L. Benson (Eds.), The handbook of spiritual development in childhood and adolescence (pp. 297-309). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



SAGE Publications




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor