In my sermon this morning (listen HERE) I mentioned a recent article on the brilliant sociologist Christian Smith (Notre Dame U.) I've been reading Smith's research on the religious life of adolescents for two decades. In this article Smith reiterates the claim that parents have the greatest influence of the religious beliefs of adolescents.
Here's a quote from the article.
"Parents define for their children the role that religious faith and practice ought to play in life, whether important or not, which most children roughly adopt. Parents set a “glass ceiling” of religious commitment above which their children rarely rise. Parental religious investment and involvement is in almost all cases the necessary and even sometimes sufficient condition for children’s religious investment and involvement.
All empirical data tell us that for intergenerational religious transmission today, the key agents are parents, not clergy or other religious professionals. The key location is the home, not religious congregations. And the key mechanisms of socialization are the formation of ordinary life practices and identities, not programs, preaching, or formal rites of passage."