Relatie, religie, ruzie
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Abstract Background: A large body of research reveals that parental divorce as well as parental conflicts can have negative effects on the well-being of children and adolescents. Although approximately half of all Dutch people report to be religious, there is ample research on differences between religious and nonreligious adolescents concerning the effects of parental divorce or marital conflicts. This study examines possible differences between religious and nonreligious adolescents as to their functioning after a parental divorce. Method: Participants were 4090 adolescents aged 9 to 17 (M = 13.1). Self-report questionnaires regarding internalizing (anxiety and depression) and externalizing (aggression and delinquency) problems were filled in, as well as questions about personality, religion and parental conflicts. Results: Analyses of variance showed a significant interaction effect of family structure and religion on adolescent internalizing problems. Religious adolescents showed higher levels of anxiety and depression, whereas their nonreligious counterparts showed higher levels of aggression and delinquency, irrespective of family structure. In addition, adolescents of religious families reported significantly more parental conflicts than nonreligious adolescents did. Levels of anxiety and depression decreased when was corrected for parental conflicts, and the interaction effect of religion and family structure on internalizing problems even disappeared. Conclusion: Increased levels of anxiety and depression among religious adolescents may be partly caused by the higher level of parental conflicts they report. Indeed, scores on anxiety and depression decreased when was corrected for parental conflicts. However, the main effect of religion on internalizing problems remained significant, as well as the inverse effect of religion on externalizing problems. Overall, findings clarify only a small part of the differences between religious and nonreligious adolescents in average problems. In adolescence, the role of religion might be more complex than was expected.