Barrie Birge, Ph.D., is a 2023 graduate of the PhD Program in Marriage and Family Therapy at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Kevin Lyness, PhD, Committee Chair
  • Lucille Byno, PhD, Committee Member
  • Bryson Greaves, Ph.D., Committee Member


secular spirituality, parenting behavior, developmental outcomes, intergenerational parenting

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A family is a relational system that shapes a child’s development, and it is well-established that parenting directly exasperates or reduces a child’s internal and external behaviors (Foran et al., 2020; Rikuya & Toshiki, 2018). Parents are influential figures during childhood and adolescence and play a key role in their children’s development (Baumrind, 1978; Maccoby & Martin, 1983). Therefore, it is of great concern that developmental challenges in children and adolescents in the U.S. continue to increase. The Centers for Disease Control (2019) confirms adolescent mental health and suicide variable trends in the U.S. continued to increase significantly between 2009 and 2019. There is cogent evidence that suggests a parent’s experience of being parented themselves influences their parenting style (Van IJzendoorn, 1992; Belsky et al., 2009). Therefore, a better understanding of how to help parents improve parenting behavior and transform intergenerational transmission negative parenting behavior is important in the hope that parent interventions may have benefit across generations. Researchers have called for further study of the moderating variables that explain the ongoing and continuous transmission of parenting behaviors (Conger et al., 2009). Accordingly, this quantitative research aims to understand whether parents’ levels of secular spirituality improve parenting behaviors and mitigate harmful intergenerational parenting. The Spirituality Questionnaire (Singh & Makkar, 2015) was used to measure parents secular spirituality the Parenting Styles & Dimensions Questionnaire-Short Version (Robinson et al., 1995) was used to measure parenting behavior. Of the 177 participants who completed the online self-report questionnaire, the data supports the hypothesis that a significant relationship exists between parents’ spirituality levels and parenting behavior, as well as change between generation. Multiple steps of data analysis comparing group differences in parents’ spirituality, contextual factors, and parenting behaviors were used. The results support there exists a significant relationship between secular spirituality and parenting behaviors and intergenerational changes in parenting. Further, the results and subsequent discussion clearly show that all four spiritual variables (spiritual self-awareness, spiritual practices, spiritual beliefs, and spiritual needs) work together in different ways to predict parenting.


Barrie Birge

ORCID Scholar ID# 0009-0001-5414-7783