There are countless studies discussing the relationship between religion and teens' habits. In short, teens that are raised in a religious home are more likely to stay away from debilitating habits and develop healthier ones.
In a recent study from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, which represented over 14,000 American youth, it was discovered that religious youth with intact families are less likely to:
• do drugs
• engage in physical intimacy
Additionally, this study pointed out that religious teens also have a higher GPA in high school.
A separate study indicated that teens who practice religion will:
• achieve a higher level of marital happiness and stability
• develop greater educational aspirations
• contribute more generously to their community
• live longer and healthier lives
• display higher levels of self-control and self esteem
So the science is here to reinforce the fact that religion in the home affects the outcome of teens, but why is that? Now I can’t speak for other churches, but I do have a theory as to why LDS youth fare better than teens without religion in their home.
An interesting point to address is that these studies touch on the fact that while most religious youth are devoted to their faith, they are uneducated in their doctrine. In other words, they believe in their doctrine, but they don’t know what they believe.
On ymtoday.com, they noted that religious teens are inarticulate about their faith. However, according to this new study, Mormon youth can eloquently explain LDS doctrine.
“The [National Study of Youth and Religion] found that teenagers suffer from an impoverished ability to talk about their faith, possibly because they are rarely encouraged to critically think through their faith,” but the researcher continues with, “Mormon youth were off the charts in terms of their articulacy and understanding of their faith.”
This is not surprising when you hear that LDS youth are more knowledgeable about their faith, when compared to other religious teens. Greg Stier from christianpost.com, a website sharing non-denominational Christian views, actually agrees.
In an article titled, “Why Mormons Do a Better Youth Ministry than We Do,” Stier explains, “Mormonism pushes their kids harder and takes them deeper and farther than even the most ardent of evangelical youth ministries would ever dare.”
Stier continues, “Mormons expect a lot out of their teenagers. We don't. Mormons ordain their young men into the ministry at the age of twelve. We don't. Mormons require their teens to attend seminary every day of high school. We don't.
"Maybe that's why Mormons give more, work harder and are exploding as a religion.”
Our Church certainly is "exploding" (somewhat like a stone rolling forth, as if cut from a mountain without hands—sound familiar?), and much of it is because of our strong youth, who are growing up into strong Church members and leaders. And to their parents: don't ever give up in your efforts to raise up righteous children to the Lord. As President Harold B. Lee said, "The most important . . . work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own homes.”
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Read more about studies specific to Latter-day Saint Teans.
Many scholars have claimed that religion has little or no effect on the lives of young people. Some even assert that religion is harmful to teens and young adults. The Shield of Faith: The Power of Religion in the Lives of LDS Youth and Young Adults a groundbreaking study, spanning 17 years and three countries, to determine what role religion plays in the lives of LDS youth. This important study shows that religion is a meaningful, positive force in the lives of LDS teens and young adults. It can help provide them with tools they need to fashion a shield of faith.