In the latest 5-minute video for PragerU, psychoanalyst and author Erica Komisar argued that children should be exposed to religion — even if their parents reject God.
As a therapist, Komisar is often asked why depression and anxiety are increasingly common among children and adolescents. One explanation — which she says is “almost surely the most neglected” — is declining interest in God and religion.
“I see the consequences of this in my practice almost every day,” explained Komisar. “And this is not merely my personal observation.”
She cited a Harvard study showing that children who attended a religious service at least once per week “scored higher on psychological well-being measurements and had lower risks of mental illness.” Weekly attendance was also linked to “higher rates of volunteerism, lower probabilities of both drug use and early sexual initiation, and a sense of purpose.”
Nevertheless, polls find that the United States has seen a 20% decrease in attendance at formal religious services over the past two decades. In 2018, the American Family Survey revealed that “nearly half of adults under 30 do not identify with any religion.”
“From a purely psychological point of view, this is not a good trend,” commented Komisar. “Nihilism — the belief in nothing — is a rich fertilizer for anxiety and depression.”
Komisar said that parents — even those who reject God — therefore have no other choice than to expose their children to the Lord.
Komisar is also “frequently asked how parents can instill gratitude and empathy in their children.” Once again, she argues that the best answer is involvement in religion — which, beyond fostering the building blocks of strong character, protects against depression and anxiety.
“Additionally, religion provides children a chance for community,” she discussed. “Being with people who share their faith can act as a buffer against the emptiness and isolation of modern culture. This is more necessary than ever in a world where teens can have hundreds of virtual friends and few real ones.”
“And religion helps teach children mindfulness, a sense of self-control, and discipline. Your young children might not be aware they are entering a house of worship, but they do know they’re supposed to act in an appropriate manner when they are there.”
Komisar pointed out that children’s attitudes about God tend to follow those of their parents. Nevertheless: “If you practice religion or send your children to religious school knowing it is good for them, you might surprise yourself and get something meaningful out of it too.”