I was going to blog on healthy eating today but got distracted by this from Frank Field:
Field talks about
a “vicious downward spiral” of broken families in the UK.
He said Britain was facing a social crisis because of the huge number of families who “live in a state of permanent squalor, chaos and hostility” presided over by “toerag parents who haven’t got a clue how to raise children, and delegate the role of breadwinner to the social security system.
There are many different views in our society of how to bring up children and I didn’t think there was one ‘perfect’ way. I assume Mr Field is talking about general principles of teaching children respect, to abide by the law and to want to contribute to society etc. I am not sure what he means when he yearns for the Victorian era, when parents brought up their children within a very clear framework of how they should behave. I don’t know much about Victorian England but thought one of the things it was famous for was expecting children ‘to be seen and not heard’. Mr Field may not have noticed but things have changed. This not how we think about children now. I didn’t think anyone thought that anymore. ‘Every Child Matters’ not ‘Every Child Should Be Quiet until Spoken To’ Although I noticed the new government has deleted the ECM term.
Obviously there are people out there who are not good parents. I don’t think these are all people who ‘delegate the role of breadwinner to the social security system’. I know, and have taught the children of, middle class working parents who have not instilled any sense of respect for others in their children. And I am not convinced there are huge swathes of people who ‘delegate [my emphasis] the role of breadwinner to the state’. There are actually people out there claiming benefits to survive. They want to work. They can’t find a job. And for the young people, some of whom are the ‘toerag parents’ Mr Field is talking about, there is about to be a lot less help with cuts to careers advisory services such as Connexions.
Field wants to introduce a GCSE in parenting and you have to admire his attempt to spin this: “And in a sense the bonus would be both for the pupils and the schools that they’d be picking up an extra GCSE.” Does anyone think universities, employers or anyone else will be remotely interested if pupils have a GCSE in parenting? Even if they get a ‘A’ grade? Not to mention that many teenagers in England already take a module in parenting as part of Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE).
I run a nursery in a deprived area and through this job I work with parents, many of whom are on benefits. They are not all wasters and scroungers. They have almost all had really difficult childhoods themselves and want to better themselves. I blogged about one such young Mum last month. Demonising them by using the emotive language chosen by Mr Field is disrespectful and unhelpful. We need continued outreach support through job roles such as Early Years Visitors who deliver parenting classes and visit parents at home to support (and monitor) their parenting skills. We need continued access to Sure Start Children’s Centres. We need continued access to high quality free Early Years provision. Through nurseries, parents have access to printed materials, are signposted to other services, can attend Family Learning courses (which are a fantastic way for professionals to relay messages about positive parenting) and they learn through witnessing how practitioners manage children’s behaviour that there are ways of interacting which don’t involve telling children to shut up or smacking them. Unlike in Victorian times.