Adolescent Children of Newly-Orthodox Jewish Parents: Family Functioning, Parenting, and Community Integration as Correlates of Adjustment
Cahn, Judith Altschuler
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The Orthodox Jewish community throughout the United States includes individuals who were not raised in religious families, but subsequently transformed their lives to live as Orthodox Jews and are referred to as baalei teshuv a (Hebrew term, literally meaning "one who returns or repents.") Anecdotal information about at-risk behaviors of their adolescent children has given rise to a concern about that population, yet no studies have examined what contributes to behavioral outcomes in this subgroup. This study examines variables documented in the literature as creating vulnerability in adolescents in general and explores how they may apply to baal teshuva families. These include family structure, family style, quality of parenting partnership in the marriage, overall life stressors of parents, the age that the parent became religious (age of lifestyle change), and level of community integration.;An anonymous web survey, accessed via a link from an email or listserv, was distributed to parents throughout the United States. Parents who were born religious as well as parents who are newly religious responded ( N= 577). In the group of parents self-selected as a baal teshuva (n=226), a multivariate analysis indicated that a disengaged family style, chaotic family structure and poor integration into the community was associated with greater behavioral difficulties in their adolescent children. Another significant factor was the parent's age when he or she became a baal teshuva. Parent lifestyle religious transformation during his or her twenties was associated with higher emotional and behavioral difficulties in the adolescent; more so than if the parent became newly religious in his or her teens or later in life.;Keywords: baal teshuva, adolescents of newly religious, heal teshuva families, adolescent adjustment.