GP’s grim diagnosis for parents

NZ herald Jul 29, 2009

An Auckland doctor says a quarter of New Zealand parents can’t control their children. Dr Robyn Theakston, a general practitioner in Three Kings, says the 2007 law banning the use of force for “correction” has made things worse by restricting parents’ disciplinary choices. “As a GP I am sometimes appalled by the results of poor parenting I see – excessive laxity, neglect and cruelty,” she wrote in a Herald online forum on the smacking referendum yesterday.

She told the Herald later that she saw many good parents, but she estimated that about a quarter of the parents she sees do not know how to control their children – far more than the number who treat their children too harshly. “You can tell a good parent because they can calm the child. The child trusts the parent. They feel the parent is in control,” she said. “Other children come in and the parents don’t know what to do. The child is not used to being told what to do so they wreak havoc.” She said many parents were too insecure to say no to their children.