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Parents, it seems, are no longer trusted to parent. If you fail to take on the latest childcare fad deemed best by policy makers for your baby, then you risk being judged a ‘bad parent’ – guilty of some kind of negligence and abuse. Hence the recent story in the UK of four children being taken away from their parents, without a right to contact, because the family were fat. WORLDbytes Citizen TV makers visited Jennie Bristow, journalist and writer of Standing Up To Supernanny and Alison Small and Jane Sandeman, members of the Institute of Ideas Parents Forum who provide a critical and thought provoking perspective, questioning prevailing distrust.

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Related topics: Civil Liberties, Debates, Social Change

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Theodora said:

This is a really interesting program as I often wonder what my children will be like if this state interference continues. I agree with the lady who talked of the vicious cycle of parents being told they aren’t trusted to parent and then actually believing it and losing confidence in themselves. They go out to get help to do something that people have done for generations without an encyclopaedia on how to. Maybe if they weren’t second guessed they would perform better. On the other hand I do agree with on comment below about parents who do need the help and who don’t know what to do being able to be taught it but I believe this should be a personal thing and not a state wide policy.

Rayhman said:

I like very much, as a parent of four kids, I’ve always been actively involved in my children’s lives, and I value the autonomy to raise my children in the manner I choose as parent and as a one-time child.

Oran said:

It seems that this isn’t just a problem of legislation. The mere fact that schools can have a say in what parents can provide for their children for lunch shows that society is now willing to interfere in family life. Parents walk around with the stigma that every move they make is closely monitored and that their children are empirically measured against a vague notion of what the perfect child should be. This social pressure is backed up by fad science and psycho-babble, allowed to become prevalent by politicians whose social policies have allowed for rises in youth unemployment and crime. Granted some parents need help, but are we saying that all parents are incompetent?

I would have liked to see some comments from fathers in this videos, as well as responses from other ethnic groups.

Nancy said:

As much as I agree with the view expressed on the video, I can’t help thinking that it offers a one sided argument to the topic. There are cases where parents are too inexperienced and have absolutely no idea on what to do. In the last 13 or so years, Britain experienced a high rise in teen pregnancy, which ultimately meant that children were and are giving birth to children. The government then insists on giving these youngsters a free home or independance as they like to call it. These children are then left to raise their child more or less on their own and in most cases they have no idea on how to begin parenting. So when this is the case, yes I agree that experts should really have a hands on approach on the welfare of the child.
Ultimately I do agree that parents have the upper hand in raising their children, due to the emotional attachment and duty they have for their offsprings but to a certain degree the government have to make sure that all parents know that their children need discipline and know that feeding them fatty foods will only damage their health. Yes, I agree that these control measures did not exist in the previous decades, but society is rapidly changing and parenting should ultimately reflect this.

Hilda said:

When you tell parents what to do, it seems you are intruding way too much into their lives and that of their children. You don’t instruct but guide parents to do better. When policies are enforced in a wrong way, there is a bad reaction. I can understand in rare cases where you girls in their teens having children and don’t know what to do, help should be given appropriately, not you can’t do this or that. Most mothers know what is good for their children. Education is necessary.

Dan said:

I think being told you cant smack your kids has got to have a lot to do with undermining confidence. Its funny, when I was a kid at high school we all used to discuss how strict our parents were, and we used take pride if our dads would ‘kill us’ if we were naughty. I wonder what kids today would say if they knew someone’s parents were going to parenting classes? I can’t see it going down too well in the playground.

Jenny P said:

It is amazing to think that just wanting to parent without the literal nanny state is now apparantly a subversive act. Well said.

Jenny P said:

Very refreshing good to know not all parents swallow the prescriptions and just want to get on with it. Its amazing to think that just parenting with out the literal nanny state is now a subverivse act.

Hramza said:

Brilliant report its quite shocking that parents are effectively being made incompetant. You wonder how many of us ever grew up sane given our parents didn’t have supernanny or parenting classes. The tragedy of distrust is the rendering of people as incapable.

Hadhi said:

Oh Stefanie, you sound like a SuperNanny in the making, but I wouldn’t want you to come to my home. You judge parents for the smallest of things, assuming a kid watching telly whilst eating, and eating junk food at that, will lead to terrible consequences. You are wrong. Our diet, by the way, is much better than previous generations and they seemed to do alright. You suggest parents who work, have jobs (shocking) don’t care as much, you say giving children treats too much is about parents feeling good. In your world parents are just selfish stupid people in need of constant supervision from those-that-know-better. In the real world parents love their children, have good days, have bad days, and their children know that.

Shomari said:

Mijan, would you please give a bit of credit to parents! You say parents get confused so give them guidance yet say that families bring up their children differently which is a good thing. I think you are confused! I think the points made in this films confirm to me that parents should be left to bring up their children as they see fit. It won’t be perfect, what is, but it is not rocket science either. More guidance is more interference from people who don’t know but been given a voice of authority over us. We know best for our families. Yet, just saying that simple statement these days leaves many worried, this is the problem, trust us, it just parenting.

Mijan said:

Every family and every children is different and therefore parents have different ways of bringing up their children. However I do not think that this is perfect. The reason is because of the many influences such as the media and other parents who give the wrong perceptions of how to bring up children. This can result in the parents being confused. I therefore think there should be some reasonable guidance available for parents.

Stefania said:

This video explicitly criticizes Government and expert advice on how to raise children. It seems that parents are the only ones who know best and do not need to be told what to do. Being a nanny in different European Countries, I actually came to the conclusion that often parents are the ones who should be educated in the first place.
We live in a society dominated by business priorities; career and job responsibilities come first because they bring money at home. Parents feel psychologically better when they give their children more than what they need; children are overfed, continuously spoilt with games and treats, allowed to do what they want, when what they actually need is spending more time with their parents. When I first came to the UK I was shocked to find out that many children are put into bed before their parents arrive home from work. Children usually have an early dinner in front of television and without their parents, they are allowed to eat junk food on a regular basis and are normally expected to receive what they want when they ask. I do not think that parents always know what is best for their children.
I think that the Government and experts have actually a point. However, I also think that guidelines should not be listed on paper, but should be more practical and with a hands-on approach. Parents could join open discussions on-line (webcasts, forums, blogs, skype video conferences) hosted by experts (psychologists, dieticians, teachers and so on). A better education of parents would lead to better raised children.

Nabib said:

I really like the point Jennie Bristow made about how child abuse has really changed from stopping what is necessarily rare and tragic cases of real harm to forms of behaviour like smacking or shouting because now if you are not reading to them every day etc you are not producing the optimal child and therefore an abuser.

Sadia said:

Great piece. I think it was John Mill, more than a hundred years ago, who said that it would be in the area of ‘lifestyle’ that government would steadily strip us of our freedoms based on the standpoint that we are all vulnerable and therefore need their help. We are seeing the damaging consequences this has on us and society.

Amber said:

I cannot imagine what it must be like for kids to grow up these days being told that there is a bogeyman around every corner and that even their parents and friend’s parents aren’t to be trusted. I assume they have quite sturdy ‘bull’ detectors. Let’s hope so.

Gary said:

I too was at my kids school play and told that I cannot take photographs! I challenged this and was looked at as if I had something to hide, which as a Dad I get too often. I am following this up with other parents as it is outrageous, distrustful and damaging. Not just for us but for our kids too.

Stephanie said:

I’m a Mum and I really recognised how these days I am looking for help and advice much more frequently – it is like one of the interviewees said, the more we are told we are useless the more we take that on. So true, but I will resist from now on and trust myself more with my own kids.

Gary said:

I’m a Mum and I really recognised how these days I am looking for help and advice much more frequently – it is like one of the interviewees said, the more we are told we are useless the more we take that on. So true, but I will resist from now on and trust myself more with my own kids.

katy said:

So much unasked for advice no wonder my parents get so stressed – I get the raw end of it too as they worry about my weight, diet, excercise, realtionships, time online, am i being bullied, too much TV, who I talk to, where I go, travelling alone, staying up late and more…please leave them alone so we can breathe too.

Mrs P said:

I think child abuse scares have done a lot of damage. My generation (I’m old) managed to grow up with lots of apparantly wrong food, drinks, lunch boxes smacks when naughty, no super nanny, guidelines or interfering busy bodies and i think we turned out OK and are not a generation of evil child destroyers.

Sarah K said:

Great and much needed report-this idea of the optimal child according to whether it has the right inputs based on policy wonk preoccupations is so destructive of parent child relations and treats parents as hapless children. Yes trust the parents and for goodness sake leave them to parent as they see fit.