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Discursive Struggles Reflected in the Communication of Conservative Christian Parents and Their Adult Children With Differing Religious Beliefs and Values
Nearly half of American adults no longer believe in their childhood faiths (Pew Research Center, 2015). The steady decline of Christianity could have considerable impacts on family life (Pew Research Center, 2022). From a postmodern critical perspective and guided by Relational Dialectics Theory 2.0, the researcher sought to discern how conservative Christian parents and their adult children with differing religious beliefs and values communicated when they discussed these differences, as well as to identify the discourses that informed and were reflected in their talk and illustrate how these discourses interplayed and animated the meaning of participants’ Christian family identities. The researcher undertook turning points interviews; 30 adult children with differing religious beliefs and values from their conservative Christian parent(s) identified relational change sites. The researcher then used contrapuntal data analysis to analyze the data.Based in relational dialectics theory, the researcher discovered two primary discourses that informed and were reflected in participants’ talk concerning their communication with their conservative Christian parents: (a) righteousness and exclusion; and (b) openness and inclusion. Most participants countered the dominant discourse of righteousness and exclusion with the discourse of openness and inclusion. Others negated righteousness and exclusion altogether and/or entertained it along with openness and inclusion. Some participants brought the two discourses together, creating discursive hybrids.The findings of the present study facilitated the researcher’s argument that when adult children with differing religious beliefs and values from those of their conservative Christian parents assert their own religious identities to these parents, both the conservative Christian parents and the adult children experience difficulty making meaning of their Christian family identity. Understanding the interplay of the discourse of righteousness and exclusion and the discourse of openness and inclusion in participants’ talk provides insight into the processes of individual and collective identity construction and meaning making. The researcher discusses these insights and applications for these family members.
Communication|Theology|Individual & family studies
Worman, Braedon G, "Discursive Struggles Reflected in the Communication of Conservative Christian Parents and Their Adult Children With Differing Religious Beliefs and Values" (2023). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI30811035.