Two Decades of Studying American Families of Faith: What We Have Learned

Special Session

David Dollahite, Ph.D., and Loren Marks, Ph.D., Brigham Young University

Facilitator: Michael Goodman, Ph.D., Brigham Young University

3:15 PM
4:30 PM
Golden Pacific Ballroom
Session #
Session Type
Special Session
Organized By
Ethnic Minorities
About the Session
David Dollahite, Ph.D., and Loren Marks, Ph.D., Brigham Young University

The American Families of Faith Project is a national research project led by David C. Dollahite and Loren D. Marks. We, and several key collaborators, have conducted in-depth interviews with 200+ religious couples and families with adolescent children (nearly 500 individuals) from 17 states in all 8 religious regions of the United States. The presentation will summarize major findings (a) on marriage including how religious beliefs and practices helped couples avoid and resolve marital conflict, ways that religious belief and practice help couples make important changes and cope with difficult challenges; (b) on youth religious development including personal and relational processes that encouraged youth to develop and maintain religious commitments; (c) on processes that lead adolescents to establish a strong religious identity, and the kinds of sacrifices religious youth make for their faith, the reasons they are willing to make those sacrifices; and (d) on parent-child relationships including processes when parents and adolescent children have conversations about religious matters, identity-based religious calling, being, and action among parents. We also will address the challenges and struggles for individuals, couples, and families associated with religious involvement.


(1) To share highlights and salient findings from this body of work. (2) To describe the personal and professional journey—the process—in the project. We address early (and ongoing) challenges, obstacles, mistakes, lessons learned, and perceived successes. (3) To discuss future directions of religion, spirituality, and family research.

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Conference Session