Psychoanalyst Erica Komisar is a therapist to families and especially children in private practice in New York City. Her periodic columns for the Wall Street Journal on childrearing are treasures. I first noticed the one on why moms should prioritize being home with their babies for their first three years. This practical wisdom almost goes without saying. Some of her points might shock or seem retro if they weren’t timeless and backed up with stats and tons of experience.
Her latest piece concerns the cultural shift surrounding religion, something we Christians lament. Erica Komisar is a practicing Jew. She writes that one of the most important — and neglected — explanations for the depression and anxiety that is so prevalent among children is “declining interest in religion.”
She cites a 2018 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology in which Harvard researchers looked at 5000 children or teens who reported that they attended religious services at least once a week. These kids scored higher in psychological well-being and had a lower risk of mental illness than their peers who did not attend services. Plus they were more likely to volunteer, have a sense of mission, to forgive, and were less likely to use drugs or engage in early sexual activity.
Ms. Komisar writes: “The belief in God—in a protective and guiding figure to rely on when times are tough—is one of the best kinds of support for kids in an increasingly pessimistic world. That’s only one reason, from a purely mental-health perspective, to pass down a faith tradition.”
When someone close to a child dies, she writes, “Belief in heaven helps them grapple with this tremendous and incomprehensible loss.” A parent might ask, What if I don’t believe? Her shocking counsel: “Lie.”
Much better — explore the claims of Christ. Take your kids to church. Provide them a spiritual center, a buffer, and the natural community of church involvement. For their sake, go and drink deeply.