Single Mothers' Religious Participation and Early Childhood Behavior


Department of Sociology, Ball State University, North Quad 205, Muncie, IN 47306 (


Using data on 1,134 single mothers from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, this study examined trajectories of religious participation among single mothers and whether these trajectories were associated with early childhood behavior. The results suggested that single mothers experienced diverse patterns of religious participation throughout their child's early life; some mothers maintained a consistent pattern of religious participation (or nonparticipation), and other mothers increased their participation. The results also suggested that religious participation was associated with greater involvement with children, reduced parenting stress, and a lower likelihood of engaging in corporal punishment. Young children raised by mothers who frequently attended religious services were less likely to display problem behaviors, and this relationship was partially mediated by increased child involvement, lower stress, and less frequent corporal punishment. Overall, religious participation may provide resources for single mothers that encourage them to engage in parenting practices that promote positive child development.