A Qualitative Study of Danish Mothers’ Beliefs on Religion & Parenting
Caroline Eckert ’21
Amber Coleman, Alexis Faria, Clara Han, Makenna Luzenski, Lauren Shearer, Grace Wilder, & Prof. Chris Boyatzis
Chris Boyatzis, Psychology
This study investigated Danish mothers’ beliefs about parenting and the role of religion in family practices and discussions. Denmark is famous as one of the most secular nations in the world (Zuckerman, 2008), yet religion is, perhaps surprisingly, a component of family discussion, especially about death and morality (Zajac & Boyatzis, 2020). In this study, 15 native Danish mothers, all fluent in English with at least one child between ages of 4 and 14, were interviewed about mothers’ religious beliefs and how they were incorporated into family discourse and practices, especially on issues of morality, religious holidays, death, and the afterlife. Transcripts are being coded by a team creating a coding system using inductive and deductive thematic analysis. Team members individually analyzed transcripts and then met to work toward a shared coding system for interpreting themes in the mothers’ views. Coding is in progress, with these preliminary themes: mothers’ respect for children’s autonomous beliefs (i.e., reluctance to impose their own beliefs), promotion of the child’s character, tolerance for diverse religions (and mothers’ lack of strong commitment to any one faith), mothers’ ongoing reflection and growth, and concern for children’s age-appropriate exposure. Preliminary analyses suggest Danish mothers have a distinctive orientation to the role of religion in the family, one quite disparate from most American families (Boyatzis et al., 2015).