The study was based on a survey of 502 Israeli mothers of children aged 3-5 (31.6% Jewish, 36.0% Muslims, 16.8% Christians and 15.6% Druze). Mothers were asked to fill out an online structured, anonymous self-report questionnaire survey that was distributed through social networks. We use multivariate hierarchal regression to explore the role of religion and religiosity in predicting mother’s use of punitive discipline and psychological control, after controlling for child and family factors (i.e., child gender, mother socio-demographic factors and co-parenting).
The results showed that religiosity is significantly and positively associated with mothers use of both psychological control and punitive discipline. Furthermore, it was found that Arab mothers (Muslim, Christian and Druze) reported more than Jewish mothers on using psychological control, while no significant differences between the four religions were found in predicting maternal punitive discipline. The results revealed that co-parenting is significantly and negatively connected to both maternal psychological control and punitive discipline.
Intervention and prevention efforts aim to abolish maternal psychological control and punitive discipline should take into account the variation between parents’ cultural and religious values, in order to design culturally sensitive and effective interventions. Also, they should be designed to include family therapy and not to focus solely on one parents, usually mothers.