Why Parents Can't Discipline
Why Parents Can't Discipline
By J. Bailey Molineux, Ph.D.
Some parents have difficulty effectively disciplining their
children. Even though they have greater physical and psychological power, there
may be several reasons why this may be so:
Since we all tend to raise our children the way we were
reared, some parents may not have the skills to effectively discipline their
children because of their own deficient upbringings. Without a conscious effort
to change, parents often only give their children what they received from their
The parents may have the skills to be effective disciplinarians
but be unable to successfully apply those skills because of their own personal
problems. A parent who suffers from untreated alcoholism or depression may not
be able to consistently follow through with the rewards and punishments which
are so critical for good discipline.
The parents may have serious marital problems which make
effective discipline difficult, if not impossible, to implement. This is one
of the more common reasons why parents are having behavior problems with one
or more of their children.
Marital problems contribute to discipline problems in two
ways: They prevent the parents from supporting each other in their disciplinary
efforts and they create anxiety in children which may be acted out in misbehavior.
Ironically, behavior problems in the children can contribute to marital stress,
so that each type of problem can exacerbate the other in a vicious, self-perpetuating
The grandparents may interfere with the legitimate executive
authority of the parents. Although it is the function of grandparents to "spoil"
their grandchildren in the sense of giving them the unconditional love parents
can't always provide, this can go too far. In a continuing conflict with their
own adult children, grandparents can undermine the discipline of the parents.
The parents may have the skills, the emotional strength
and the interpersonal resources to discipline their children but are still reluctant
to do so for a number of reasons. A parent may not make her children mind, for
example, because she is still rebelling against what she consider to be her
own harsh upbringing. She may assume that to be strict with her children is
to be "mean." Or she may want to be friends with them and not risk
their displeasure or anger. Or she may feel guilty about having divorced the
children's father and not want to further burden them with firm discipline.
Finally, the parents may have the necessary skills, knowledge,
resources and attitudes to effectively discipline their children but have borne
a child who is temperamentally difficult to discipline. Research has shown that
some children - about 10% - are more active and distractible, more intense in
their emotional reactions, more negative in their moods and generally harder
to control than other children no matter what their parents do or fail to do.
About the Author: J. Bailey Molineux, a psychologist
with Adult and Child Counseling, has incorporated many of his articles in a
Isn't Easy, Isbn 1587410419, sold through bookstores everywhere or available
directly from Selfhelpbooks.com.
Copyright 2002, J. Bailey Molineux and Selfhelpbooks.com, all rights reserved.
This article may be reprinted but must include authors copyright and website