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Family Functioning and it's relation to parental discipline on teenagers

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The study focus on the nutrients of family functioning and it’s relation to parental discipline on was carryout in the tertiary institution in the south west region. Three research where formulated in other to carry out the study. The design was a descriptive survey. A questioner was structure and validated for the study. Simple percentages were used to answer the research questions. The result in indicated the prevalence of Family Functioning and it’s relation to parental discipline.



  1. Background and Context

The family, due to their socialization and breeding functions has been noted as the basic social institution, providing the first learning to its elements (Alarcão, 2000; Knox & Schacht, 2008). Over time, children tend to move from family dependency to adolescence, and becoming gradually independent as they reach adulthood (Antonucci, Wong, & Trinh, 2012). Although there are important periods of transition in family expectations and dynamics such coming into adulthood (Arnett, 2000), family dynamics change at every point in the life cycle of both the family and its elements (Antonucci, 2012). Family interdependence is increasingly felt not only with the younger generations of a family, but also with the older ones, and families nowadays seem to provide care for adolescents and young adults, but also for elderly parents (Grundy & Henretta, 2006). Historically, the family has done a good job of developing the potential of their children to become less dependent and more competent to assume helping roles as they mature.

There appears to be an increase in families who are failing in their responsibility to provide the love, support and to teach their children the skills necessary to live a functional ‘life (Glenn, 1986). Indicators of family achievement present a disconcerting picture of steady decline from the childless stage through the years of childbearing and middle parenthood before leveling off and recovering in the post parental period after the children have married and established homes of their own (Olson & McCubbin, 1983). It becomes clear that families in our society are not immunized from trouble over the life span and appear to fight a losing battle against increasing stressors during the active years of childrearing. This is reflected in the anxiety of parents who are increasingly tentative in their approach to childrearing. Articles, books, pamphlets and television specials are appearing with regularity, giving a wide range of suggestion to parents on how to solve the behavorial problems of their children.

Globalization and the influence of the social media, couple sociopolitical crisis rocking the two Anglophone regions of Cameroon is crucial for teenagers in Buea. It is interferes with developmental trajectories of teenagers which characterized by many challenges and wide range of needs. On one side, teenagers will inevitably undergo lots of changes and they need to cope with changes independently and manage their college life to adapt to the new environment (Chen & Fan, 2014). On another side, they are confronted with the accomplishment of psychosocial developmental tasks in adolescence and coping with new psychosocial developmental challenges in early adulthood. Therefore, teenagers need support and discipline to drive them to the appropriate direction.

Although most of the literature about discipline has focused on physical punishment some have study other disciplinary alternatives. Gámez-Guadix & Orue, (2010) have found in that regarding physical punishment, boys are the main targets of most types of discipline (distraction, reward, physical punishment, withdrawal of privileges, compensation, ignore behavior and control), and mothers the main disciplinarian. The discipline used also varies with the age of the child. Positive discipline is most commonly used in young children, psychological aggression in older adolescents and physical punishment in young people between 12 and 14 years (Calvete et al., 2010). Comparing disciplinary methods used by some Arab and Jewish mothers for example,  it was found that both culture and educational level of parents have an influence on practices used (Khoury-Kassabri & Straus, 2011). The number of children and their birth order also influence the used disciplinary methods. Bigger families have more exposure to disciplinary methods, and older and middle children tend to be the main targets of disciplinary methods (Khoury-Kassabri & Straus, 2011).

Gershoff et al., (2010), point that, corporal punishment, yelling, and expressing disappointment were related with child aggressiveness; on the other hand time out, corporal punishment, expressing disappointment and shaming were related to anxiety. Time out and removal of privileges have proven be effective in increasing compliance (Flessati, & Tiedemann, 1984). Time out also seems to be very effective as a long-term disciplinary method although it might not produce the desired effect immediately (Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, 1998). Despite this some authors argue that strategies such encouraging positive behavior, guidance, and trying to understand children’s behavior are more positive than time out (Morawska & Sanders, 2011). Using time out only by itself it is not recommended and the context in which it is applied also seems to be relevant (a warm and supportive environment it is best when applying this method) (Morawska & Sanders, 2011).

The use of power assertive discipline (discipline that focus on physical punishment, psychological aggression, depravation of privileges and penalty tasks) seems to be link to negative outcomes when compared to inductive discipline parenting strategy that uses reasoning/explaining to help children understand how their behavior affects others, or are right or wrong (Lapsley, & Hunt, 2007) that includes disciplinary behaviors such diversion, explanations, ignoring misbehavior, reward, and monitoring (Straus & Fauchier, 2011). Power assertive discipline, usually promotes aggression, self-aggression, resistance to authority, as well as internalizing problems and less secure attachment (Bosmans et al., 2011). Inductive discipline on the other hand seems to be related to more empathy, prosocial behavior, increased moral identity in adolescents and lower levels of delinquency (Patrick & Gibbs, 2012).

The study operates within the context of globalization and social media culture where western culture and values is seriously crippling tense and crisis tormented South West Region of Cameroon where families are falling apart. Some families have lost control over routines and values. Regular checks and gathering by some family members have lost as a result of the crisis, some family members are missing, others in the hands of oppressors while others are in jail for unjustified reasons. It is therefore predicted that the way a family functions influences the way parents discipline children (Moore, 2014).

Communication within the context of the family appears to be particularly important during the adolescent years. Family communication affects adolescent identity formation and role-taking ability (Cooper, 1982). Cooper et al., 2008 suggest that, adolescents who experience the support of their families may feel freer to explore identity issues. Holstein, (1972) and Stanley, (1979) found that, discussions between parents and children significantly facilitated the development of higher levels of moral reasoning in adolescents.

 Lack of communication, weak cohesion and poor adaptive strategies by parents my lead to lazier-faire parenting which may be detrimental to teenagers’ upbringing.  The sense of belonging and autonomy are relevant aspects of the subject formation, it is in the family context that we should develop a sense of belonging, uphold certain skills, values and after be able to progress to being autonomous. Against this backdrop, this study is designed to examine family functioning and parental discipline of teenagers in Buea.

1.2 Statement of Research Problem

The family is noted for being the first socialization and learning institution of every human being where overall values, attitude, skills and habits are developed. It is in the family where children grow get comfort and control over circumstances. As such studies and researchers as well as some religious institutions have emphasized on the role of family functioning on parental discipline of teenagers for better development and recognition in the society.

Despite being aware of the role of the family in building a vibrant and healthy community, the researcher observed recently that teenagers in Buea are experienced have been trapped to substance abuse, indecent dressing, scamming, prostitution and other self-destructive behaviors which is equally leading to school dropout and inability to interact or take up appropriate roles in the family in particular and the society at large.

With the above observation, the researcher anticipates that, if this discrepancy is not addressed, teenagers within socially tense environment would in the long run, engage in more unwelcoming or self-harmful behaviours as a result of inability of family to properly look into their challenges. This study is therefore a means to investigate impact of family functioning on parental discipline of teenagers in Buea Sub-Division.

1.3 Research Objectives

This study is based on the following set of objectives:

1.3.1 General Research Objective

To investigate the effect of family functioning on parental discipline of teenagers in Buea.

1.3.2 Specific Research Objectives

  • To examine the effect of family cohesion on self-esteem of teenagers in Buea.
  • To investigate the effect of family adaptability on self-esteem of teenagers in Buea.
  • To investigate the effect of family communication on self-esteem of teenagers in Buea.
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