Psychosocial Functioning of Returnees to Orthodox Judaism in America
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Background: The current study looked at the interplay between group status (individuals who have become observant Jews later in life versus individuals born into Orthodox Judaism) and psychosocial measures, which include parenting stress and the following family functions: adaptability (chaos), cohesion (disengagement), and marital dysfunction. The roles of community integration and interspousal religious discord as possible mediators of these relations were also explored. The study used a quantitative design with tested, reliable measures modified to an online survey, making it accessible to participants across many different Orthodox Jewish communities in America.;Methods: Participants were 268 nonreturnee and 222 returnee parents of adolescents who completed measures of parenting stress, family functioning, community integration, and interspousal religious discord.;Results: Groups differed significantly along the following demographic variables: family size, religious affiliation, education, and occupation. With respect to outcome measures and mediating variables, there was only a significant difference between the groups for religious discord (a small effect). There were numerous significant bivariate correlations (small to moderately large effect sizes) among the outcome measures and mediating variables within each group. In conflict with previous work, no significant total effect of returnee status was found on parenting stress (c = -1.84, p =.770), chaos (c = .553, p = .662), disengagement (c = -.137, p =.891), and marital dysfunction (c = 1.133, p = .189). Mediation analyses found religious discord to be a significant mediator of the relationship between returnee status and parenting stress ( a2b2 = 2.88, 95% CI [.628, 6.47]), as well as returnee status and chaos (a 2b2 = -.514, 95% CI [.109, 1.23]) and disengagement (a2 b2 = -4.178, 95% CI [.065, 1.14]). Also in conflict with the published work, the indirect effects of community integration were not significant for any of the outcome measures. Community integration, however, was a significant predictor of all the outcome measures: parenting stress, b1= -0.977,p = .002, chaos, b1= -1.63, p = .0012, disengagement, b1 = -1.53, p = .002, marital dysfunction, b1= -1.54, p = .0003.;Conclusions: The current study confirmed that religious discord is a mediator for the relations between returnee status and the psychosocial functions examined. The current study, however, challenges previous findings of direct effects of returnee status on the psychosocial measures of parenting stress, chaos and disengagement. Additionally, this study is in conflict with the previous findings of community integration as a mediating factor between returnee status and parenting stress, chaos, disengagement and marital dysfunction.
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