3 Mar 2013

Babying our Children

Frank Furedi put me straight today on Five Live. You can ‘talk about literature’ with your children, but don’t spend long hours reading to them.

Don’t do music practise with them either, or even give them a helping hand with their homework. Or play Scrabble with them, probably. Isn’t this what parents are meant to do? Apparently not. The danger now is because if you follow this way you will render them so helpless that they won’t know how to tie their shoelaces when they get to university. Just don’t hang out with your kids, alright.

In an extraordinarily patronising comment, the Prime Minister’s adviser on these things joined with Furedi suggesting we were ‘babying’ our children to their detriment. And it was all the fault of those terrible things ‘Career Women’, who had given up work and were now siphoning their ‘ambition’ (ooh) via their children who they were forcing to succeed, sending to tutors every living hour of the day, etc etc.

When not hovering over them, we also neglect them (how can this be?), by letting them spend hours on electronic devices where they are downloading porn and/or violence.
Can’t win.

1 comment:

  1. Jacquie Eccles30 June 2013 at 17:49

    Parenting is all about the relationship between parent and child. Accepting the child for who they are ; celebrating their qualities and helping them to manage their emotions. All of this needs time spent together; sometimes just rubbing along not always in an intense way. Playing games and reading for fun and relaxation are lovely ways to build that relationship. Accept and respect the individuality of the child rather than trying to mould them . When we do this we find that we the adults grow and change ourselves. This is how we become Family. Then through a sequence of letting go the child becomes independent and the person they are meant to be. They will have been given enough space to make mistakes and get things wrong without criticism because these are often the best lessons and they will feel safe because of the unconditional love and secure boundaries that they have. Parents mess up too but when a child feels safe and loved then our mistakes can teach them resilience as long as the relationship is promptly restored. Parents trust your instincts and respond sensitively and thoughtfully to the cues and situations as they arise. We are losing confidence in our natural abilities to parent and our lives are so busy that we lack time to spend just “being” together as a relationship develops. We lack time to reflect on that relationship and to anticipate what our children’s developing needs are. So the experts make us feel guilty with their blueprints for parenting as if children, parents and families weren’t individual and unique. Research based evidence is an important guide but the way that this knowledge is shared with parents often undermines confidence, creates guilt and causes more harm than good.


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