The topic of parents disciplining children is very relevant in our South African society since the removal of Corporal Punishment in our country. The question came to be: “Does their religion have an influence on how parents discipline their children?” This question became the focus of my research.
The research is a qualitative, Postfoundational, Practical Theological inquiry of listening to the narratives of parents and children about the influence their religion has or does not have in the way the parents discipline their children. It was carried out in a narrative social constructive way, considering the ethics of doing research with children and the sensitive topic of discipline.
The research traced the history of theologians, across time, on the theology of the child. This enriched the research in terms of the theological outlook on children, parents and especially infant baptism and its role in child discipline.
I also engaged in a dialogue with interdisciplinary experts from educational sciences and the social sciences to enrich the study and thicken the research narrative. This brought to light the effects that the transition in 1994 had on discipline in schools and families across South Africa, as well as the different parenting styles and discipline techniques that parents apply. It also brought a discussion on Corporal punishment to light.
The research consists of a multireligious study, including African religion, Christian religion, Islamic religion and Jewish religion, although the focus are primarily on the Christian religion. The research is therefore, done in a non-judgmental and respective way.
This research has found that religion definitely has an influence on the way parents discipline their children. But even more than that, discipline is dependent on religion (as a means of something to believe in) and families (parents and children that can socially construct) for it to take place.