Methods: The study was based on a survey of 502 mothers of children aged 3-5 (31.6% Jewish, 36.0% Muslim, 16.8% Christian and 15.6% Druze). The participants completed a structured, anonymous self-report questionnaire distributed through social networks. We used multivariate hierarchal regression to explore the role of religion and religiosity in predicting their use of punitive discipline and psychological control, after controlling for child and family factors (child gender, anger and peer rejection, mother sociodemographic factors and co-parenting).
Results: The results showed that religiosity was significantly and positively associated with mothers’ use of both psychological control and punitive discipline. Furthermore, it was found that Arab (Muslim, Christian and Druze) mothers reported using psychological control more than did Jewish mothers, while no significant differences between the four religions were found in predicting maternal punitive discipline.
Conclusions and Implications: Intervention and prevention efforts aimed to prevent the use of maternal psychological control and punitive discipline should take into account the variation between parents’ values, in order to design culturally sensitive and effective interventions. They should also include family therapy rather than focusing on one parent, usually the mother.