Parenting: Cameron's childhood adviser says we're all getting it wrong. Is she right?

(291 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Sat 02-Mar-13 10:23:20


Claire Perry, MP, David Cameron's adviser on childhood, has been telling the papers today that Britain's parents have got it all wrong.

In The Times (£), the Telegraph and the Daily Mail, Perry is quoted as saying...

* We fill every moment of our children's lives with organised activities, "damaging their lives" by leaving them unable to fend for themselves when they go to university.

* We should 'snoop' on our children's text messages and internet exchanges. Perry says that, as a society, we are all 'complicit' in allowing a culture where youngsters can make inappropriate contact with strangers at all hours of the day and night. She adds, "Most parents are too busy, don't know the words, aren't aware their children are doing it. They are living in digital oblivion."

Do you agree with either of her points?

Or not?

Please do post and tell!

Tee2072 Sat 02-Mar-13 10:36:52


Seriously? The economy is in the tank, Cameron is cutting services to children to the bone and destroying the NHS and this is what they want to know about?!?!?


Point 1: I don't, so I wouldn't know.
Point 2: Of course I will when the time is right.

Nice to know they think parents are stupid.

lisad123everybodydancenow Sat 02-Mar-13 10:38:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cakeandcava Sat 02-Mar-13 10:43:05

Doesn't the second point kind of contradict the first? Either we're doing activities with them all the time, or we're ignoring them and have no idea what they're up to?

Anyway, DS is only 4 months, so I wouldn't know, but I agree with Tee that surely they have plenty of other things to worry about?

"We fill every moment of our children's lives with organised activities, "damaging their lives" by leaving them unable to fend for themselves when they go to university."

I think she is probably generalising from her small elite circle of middle class friends and this has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of us. So, I disagree, strongly.

As for the 2nd point, I agree. But its hardly news.

lubeybooby Sat 02-Mar-13 10:49:26

I have no experience of the first point as i don't drive so never been able to get my DD to hundreds of activities.

However on the second point, NO! If you want any kind of decent relationship with your teen, you have to give them trust and respect and their own space. They also need the tools and the boundaries and teaching in place so they know how to earn and keep your trust.

When they start branching off into the digital world (texts, internet etc) you as a parent have to educate them about the dangers, set boundaries of behaviour, teach them about privacy and blocking, let them know they can come to you if anything upsets or confuses them, make sure there is age appropriate 'net nanny' type software installed, and either supervise them on the net while very young (say between age 10 and 13/14) or let your teenager know you will be checking their activity now and then and explain why, get agreement from them.

If after a while of checking all is fine, then you have to start trusting them at least a little and check less often

But you can't just randomly go grabbing phones off them and snooping. That would be disastrous for your relationship.

insancerre Sat 02-Mar-13 10:51:53

I agree with her, as much as it pains me to agree with anything this shambles of a government say or do.
children need time and space to be children and parents do seem intent on filling their children's time with activities to aid their education or development
I work with young children and a lot of these preschoolers are ferried from activity to activity when all they really want and indeed need is some good quality time with a parent or other adult who is focused on them and just them.
Taking them to the park or washing the car together is of much more benefit to children than some social led educational activities, like extra Mathis tuition or French lessons for toddlers
The Internet is a huge threat to children's safety and our children are much more savvy using it then most of their parents.

thesnootyfox Sat 02-Mar-13 10:53:50

My children do a few activities but every moment of their day is not filled with classes. The activities that they take part in are very beneficial. I can't see how competing in martial
arts or going camping with the cubs will mean that child will be unable to fend for himself at university!

We are not at the stage of mobile phones or social networking yet but when we are it will be conditional that I have access to their text messages etc and I will keep an eye on it but will not snoop unless I have good reason to.

TheCrackFox Sat 02-Mar-13 10:55:30

I would like David Cameron to concentrate on fixing the economy and leave the parenting to the parents. HTH.

HeySoulSister Sat 02-Mar-13 10:57:43

Yes I agree

What worries me is where it goes from here... What are the government scheming next?

Will they ban children's activities? Ban Internet for children? what is their agenda here?

ChestyLeRoux Sat 02-Mar-13 11:00:04

I dont agree with point 1.I know some children go to swimming lessons if their parents can afford it.The odd one goes to dance lessons or karate other than that if its not provided as a school club most children are just playing at home/with their friends.

MaryMotherOfCheeses Sat 02-Mar-13 11:04:38

Is this not what the tories used to complain about as "nanny state"?

I'd like to know what the political agenda is here. What is she for?

Lifeisontheup Sat 02-Mar-13 11:08:35

I agree with her that many parents are scared of setting boundaries which is one of the things mentioned in her report. Parents can very easily be made to feel guilty for telling children off and made to feel that their children will be lacking in confidence and self-esteem because they have been told 'no' without a load of explanations.

Catmint Sat 02-Mar-13 11:09:35

My child necessarily does organised activities. It is called after school club and she has to go there so that myself and my partner can work enough to pay mortgage and put food on table. IMO many parents would prefer to spend more quality time chilling out with their children but use activities as a form of child care while they make ends meet. I would rather my child did supervised activity during those periods, as I choose not to pay to stick her in a place which she would find boring and isolating.

domesticslattern Sat 02-Mar-13 11:11:20

I hope that, once she has finished spouting the kind of reactionary drivel that 70 year olds burble at dinner parties, she will move on to addressing the real impact of Tory policies on the economy, housing, the environment, health and education on our children.

Callisto Sat 02-Mar-13 11:14:51

I think she has a point. But she is a Tory so therefore is not allowed to criticise anyones parenting hmm.

PenelopePisstop Sat 02-Mar-13 11:15:08

Poor darlings, far too many activities and mummy and daddy snooping on their texts - whatever next! Typical Tory makes my blood boil.

What about the children who have never been to an activities in their short miserable lives, what about those who've never had a decent healthy meal, who's parents drink, take drugs, have sex in front of them, are cold because there is no heating - the list is bloody endless. What are you doing about those parents Mrs bloody no idea Perry?

What about the children who have never been to an activities in their short miserable lives, what about those who've never had a decent healthy meal, who's parents drink, take drugs, have sex in front of them, are cold because there is no heating - the list is bloody endless. What are you doing about those parents Mrs bloody no idea Perry?

Couldnt have put it better.

EauRouge Sat 02-Mar-13 11:27:00

She's from a financial background and from what I can tell has no qualifications relevant to child development etc. She is a parent, that seems to be her only qualification for being given this position.

I'm not a fan of parenting experts in general, there is more than one way to bring up a happy child, but I am happy to listen to other opinions if they are not too prescriptive.

I don't like the use of the word 'snoop' (it implies lack of trust) but I will certainly supervise my DDs when they are old enough to use the internet.

Not sure I see the connection between organised activities and not being able to cope at university. Basic life skills can be taught at home whether or not your child goes to swimming/football/horse riding etc. Organised activities can teach skills like working as a team, conflict resolution etc that may not be learnt at home.

I definitely agree with her about sodding cupcakes though grin

Eskino Sat 02-Mar-13 11:29:09

Our local newspapers headline this week is "One in three children [in my neighbourhood] live in poverty".

This is not a sink estate with high unemployment, most parents here work.

How much is this woman beng paid and when will she confront the real problems that are affecting families?

piprabbit Sat 02-Mar-13 11:44:48

I don't think those issues should be top of her list of priorities for helping families.

Most families can't afford "too many" activities - it really is a minority problem.
Adults do need to be more tech savvy, how does she suggest educating parents who can't be bothered to educate themselves on the basics of parental controls and social networking?

In a climate where charities, who have been supporting parents for many years to parent more effectively, are losing their funding - I think she is fiddling while Rome burns.

Oodsigma Sat 02-Mar-13 11:54:58

Certain groups of people are doing both things and can cause problems BUT there is much bigger parenting problems out there.

I would like to see more awareness of cyber safety for young people & parents, even on here some Internet savvy people are naive to risks so promotion of this wouldn't be a bad thing.

Biggest issue I see is child poverty through both poor budgeting and benefits trapped/lack of work opportunities for single parents. This would be something the Gov could work on but not by cutting benefits.

Madlizzy Sat 02-Mar-13 11:59:10

I just think that she can sod off and do some real work.

HandbagCrab Sat 02-Mar-13 12:06:26

According to the telegraph it is only sahm that ruin their children's lives with too many activities whereas it is busy working parents that put their children in dangers with regards to esafety.

I wouldn't suppose this mp is an Aibu regular?

But it is very nice for a privileged and fortunate woman to come along and tell us how we're all doing it wrong. Makes a hearty change from the kind support we are all used to from this benign, helpful government.

CheeseStrawWars Sat 02-Mar-13 12:16:45

As far as I can see, this is all based on anecdote. Where is the data?

Considering her job is advising on the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood, it strikes me as peculiar that this is what she's focused on.

And if we 'mothers' - presumably SAHDs don't have this problem - follow our "ambition" and seek employment rather than "bake cookies", what does she suggest we do with our children while we work that isn't the "organised activities" she criticises?

And yes, our local paper headline this week said 1 in 5 children are living in poverty here - and our area is in the top 10 'desirable' places to live in the country. I don't see these children going to organised activities, or even owning a computer let alone having access to the internet at home. And do take into account how much of an educational disadvantage it is to not have internet access at home, when so much homework requires research etc. And so the social divide widens.

working9while5 Sat 02-Mar-13 12:42:02

"I agree with her, as much as it pains me to agree with anything this shambles of a government say or do."

Me too, and I hate to!

I disagree it is parents getting it wrong, though. I think it is society dictating a certain sort of "goal-orientated" child-rearing, where what you do is always more important than just being.

In terms of the second point, again, I want to disagree, I really do... but the digital world contains so many dangers I wouldn't want my children exposed to in reality.. I wouldn't knowingly let my children hang out with fundamentalists, extremists, pornographers or any other such people in "real life" so I don't really want them to do it online. I don't think I would snoop though, I just would hope I would be able to limit their time on there.. but I doubt I will in all honesty, given that they are 3 and 8months and if things continue as they are going they will practically live online...

I hate even saying that, it makes me feel like an old fogey.. but I do see her point.

motherinferior Sat 02-Mar-13 12:52:30

She needs to decide whether her argument is (a) children are being overly coddled (b) children are being shamefully neglected. She needs to provide good evidence, across the full socioeconomic spectrum, for whichever point she is, in fact, trying to demonstrate. Then I might, perhaps, listen to her.

motherinferior Sat 02-Mar-13 12:55:45

Oh and for the record no, I haven't subjugated my ambitions into my children. Hence my professional insistence on good, evidence-based social analysis.

Corygal Sat 02-Mar-13 13:02:01

I am staggered by how overprotective some parents are - it worries me that the children won't be able to cope in adulthood, so maybe my paranoia is similar to Tory Bird's concern.

But neglect - the opposite - is a far, far worse problem, and that's proven to damage people pretty badly. Neglect and crap schooling are a lot more serious than the odd slightly hopeless middle class kid who underachieves. And as for young adults lacking boundaries, everyone knows how to avoid the entitled.

vesela Sat 02-Mar-13 13:03:56

I read it initially as "She herself had been guilty of hoovering over them."

i am clearly not part of the 'we' she is talking about as ds doesn't go to loads of activities, walks everywhere, plays out with his pals and has already started being allowed to walk to the shop around the corner and buy something with a set amount of money twice. he'll be 6 next week.

i dare say she'd think i was doing it wrong too and endangering my child. you can't win with these know it alls wink

i do think a lot of parents are very naive about internet safety. i find it baffling that people give children mobile phones with internet access, cameras and no supervision and then are shocked and horrified when it turns out a photo of their daughter in her underwear is doing the rounds at school (and at church in one relatives case). also laptops in bedrooms stuns me and letting children have facebook accounts with no privacy settings and being totally oblivious to what they're doing.

that isn't as simple as 'shit parenting' imo though but genuine ignorance in many cases. my sister for example lived quite a sheltered adolescence and can be stunningly naive. her children weren't allowed to walk anywhere or go out alone or go over to the park and play but already had mobile phones and laptops with internet access and no supervision - i find that so bizarre! people's concepts of risk and safety are very skewed. overprotective in some areas and completely not supervising in others when to me the tables need turning - let them out to play if you live in a safe, quiet area and have several parents looking out for them and clear rules DON'T let themselves lock themselves in their rooms with a laptop through which the whole world can access them.

but seriously i don't need parenting advice from the government i need them to develop some frigging ethics and stop plunging more and more kids into poverty and deprivation for their own ends.

HeathRobinson Sat 02-Mar-13 13:11:21


TheFallenNinja Sat 02-Mar-13 13:15:14

Yawn. We're all getting it wrong, yada yada.

LadyInDisguise Sat 02-Mar-13 13:16:31

She needs to provide good evidence, across the full socioeconomic spectrum, for whichever point she is, in fact, trying to demonstrate. Then I might, perhaps, listen to her.

I couldn't agree more, especially in our times where everything HAS to be about providing evidence, standards etc...

So Mrs Perry, what's the evidence? Could you point us towards some studies (done with most care of course!) so we could decide if you do have a point or not?

Wonders about what sort of standards we should all aim for?
No more than 1 or 2 activities a week or is it no more than 2 or 3 activities in the day (I have seen that happening where I live, especially on a saturday)?

And then on often should we snoop on our children? Once a day, once a week or once a month? How much will be enough? How much should we show our children that we don't trust them in the few years just before Uni where... oh yes... they will be left to their own devices and should be able to be fully independant ....

BooCanary Sat 02-Mar-13 13:17:26

Point 1: I agree that children do more organised activity than they used to - mostly as a result of lack of not playing in the street, not disappearing for hours to goodness knows where, and not being told from a young age to 'come back when it gets dark'. But life has changed. However, my DCs have plenty of free time to do their own thing, and I don't think the few activities they do each week are anything less than beneficial.

Point 2: Although my DCs are primary aged, I was once a Uni student and I can tell you that the students who fell apart/filed exams/went crazy drinking doing drugs etc, were the very students who had been wrapped up in cotton wool, not encouraged to make their own decision, and generally incapable of acting like an adult. We need to teach our children to MAKE the right decisions, as opposed to making them for them.

Well on point 1, no I don't because I can't bloody well afford too! I can't even afford to take them swimming! My kids go to the park, play with their toys and watch a bit of TV (NOT SKY - before the Tory toff gets her knickers in a twist). On point 2, well mine aren't old enough to use the internet unsupervised yet, but when they are I will judge each situation as I see fit.

All I can see is a millionaire Tory MP who can't see past the end of her own nose and doesn't have a clue about the realities of bringing up children when you earn less than £100k a year. They could come up here to Liverpool and ask the advice of all the parents of the children at my dds' school, may give DC an insight into how the rest of the country lives. hmm

curryeater Sat 02-Mar-13 13:27:13

parenting, like everything else, does not happen in a vacuum but is informed by the current socio-economic climate. These dickheads should think about how their policies influence this climate.

They seem to want a childhood that takes place outside of and independent of economic activity, unsullied by paid care (which is what organised activities are) and gadgets (the desire for which is driven by consumer capitalism). Yet their policies work to leave less and less untouched by economic activity. Everyone has to work and consume all the time, even children. This is the logical conclusion of what they are doing.

All the people who run these activities are working with other people's kids instead of staying at home with their own - which is what the govt want, people working
Driving around is in itself an economic activity (the upkeep and fuel for the car, the work required to afford to own and run one)
Gadgets = economic activity

Free range, off-line children are outside of economic activity and being gently, subtly supervised by a network of off-the-economic-grid adults (once the world was full of SAHMs and kindly eyes - I would prefer it to be a network of gender neutral SAHPs). We are not allowed to have too many of such adults any more and the kindly eyes are gone - so this is why children are corralled indoors. And on their phones because they have to be doing something.

as individuals you can, if you work very hard, buck the system, sometimes. As a society we get the policies we are given and they will have the lifestyle results contained within them as logical conclusions

bigkidsdidit Sat 02-Mar-13 13:33:05

In a way I agree with her on point 1; I know a few parents like this and there are plenty on here. But that is hardly a big problem IMO - so some toddlers do a few too many activities. It is not going to cause enormous damage. She should be focussing on bigger problems as listed by pp.

Point 2 I agree.

grants1000 Sat 02-Mar-13 13:39:51

So my 10 yo does football matches and training and Sea Scounts. My 6 yo does Tennis and football training, just started attending science club at school after school, youngest learning to swim (eldest can swim) - each a hour or two a week. Is that too much or too little? I thought adults and children are too fat and inactive, hence the recent G'ovt campaign. So shall I quit the clubs and get fat and unfit or keep at the clubs that are damaging my children's lives? These are things they want to do, I don't force them to do any of them.

Tell me oh wise G'ovt what shall I do?

They are both online, eldest on X Box Live, we have set up all parental controls, monitor it and use an app which shows us all activity. Had 18 yo friends son round to give us the low down on X Box workings, safety and how it all works etc etc. Attended 2 police evenings at school all about online safety and was grateful for info and put some relevant things into practice. The have to use the laptop for homeowrk, research and mathletics. They laugh at funny things on You Tube and show me and we laugh together (safety controls on). Is this wrong too?

Tell me oh wise G'ovt what shall I do?

When the G'ovt wishes to make a point, why is it so damming and presumptive that we are idiots getting it wrong? EG: "damamging lives & living in digital oblivion" Why presume, the voters that may or may not be voting for them now and in the future are stupid in every aspect?

The G'ovt are clearly stupid, but so are my Local Education Authority, in my case anyway, I have a letter from each in the post today, who both clearly blame the other for a situation with my son's education. Each says the decision was made by the other and that they have nothing to do with it. Someone is obvioulsy telling BIG FIBS. When faced with this sort of buck passing and blame game is beggars belief.

grants1000 Sat 02-Mar-13 13:41:38

“We fetishise cupcakes,” she said. “I like baking but I don’t want to make that my life’s purpose. We worship this feminine motherhood thing and I don’t think our children have benefited actually. They’re babied a lot.”

I really don't know what on earth to say or how to respond.

nextphase Sat 02-Mar-13 13:51:59

Filling kids days with structured activities? What, like kicking them (age 3 and 22 mths) out into the garden, where they have decided to fill an empty plant pot with gravel, while I watch through the window?

And Yes, when they get big enough to go digital, I'll be guiding them at first, letting them explore, but also teaching them how to be safe - like I show them how to be safe in a carpark.

Don't generalise. We're not all tiger mothers.

twofingerstoGideon Sat 02-Mar-13 14:00:36

I think Claire Perry needs to get out more. In the absence of any data or sources for the drivel she's spouting, I can only assume that she's basing her views on her own experience or that of her immediate peer group - a group that may very well spend all its time ferrying its children by car from activity to activity when not baking cupcakes with them.

Meanwhile, in the real world, huge numbers of families are having to choose between, say, Brownies or swimming because they're unable to afford both, or are unable to provide their children with any activities whatsoever due to cost. The children I know who do lots of 'activities' do them with their childcare providers while their parents are out working long hours to provide the basic necessities for them.

LimeLeafLizard Sat 02-Mar-13 14:04:02

She needs to provide good evidence, across the full socioeconomic spectrum, for whichever point she is, in fact, trying to demonstrate. Then I might, perhaps, listen to her.

^^ This is worth repeating again.

If you read this thread, Claire Perry, please go away and do some proper research before spouting your personal opinions as if they were fact.

LimeLeafLizard Sat 02-Mar-13 14:06:23

Oh and I am an excellent parent because at this moment my children have no internet access because I am hogging the laptop and are free to play unsupervised because I am ignoring them whilst I MN.

exoticfruits Sat 02-Mar-13 14:10:08

I agree with her, up to a point, if you read the entire article. Children are over protected and not allowed out because parents perceive the local community to be dangerous and yet they are in far more danger on the internet in the privacy of their own bedroom.
They are babied to a degree that isn't healthy-you only have to read on here that 10 year olds have never made a cup of tea, never made toast and never cut vegetables with a sharp knife. The mother is still supervising them making cup cakes when they are way past that and can be cooking a meal.
If you suggest that a 4 yr old can do simple household task some mothers react as if you are sending children up the chimneys as in Victorian times!
Eight year olds are never left alone for 10 minutes at home-the comment that nearly always turns up is 'I might be in a car crash'! Why they want the DC in a car crash with them is beyond my understanding!
There are 8yr old boys who are still taken into the ladies changing room with mother, or even the ladies toilet.
There are children who can't entertain themselves-boredom is one of the best things for a child.
They don't think that 14 year olds can use public transport alone.
They never learn to risk assess and sort things out for themselves.
I find it frightening that DCs get to 18yrs-can head off for Thailand alone, if they have the money; and certainly life alone in a strange city and there has been no gradual build up.

puds11isNAUGHTYnotNAICE Sat 02-Mar-13 14:15:24

I don't agree with her first point from a personal point of view. I have always encouraged my DD to be able to entertain herself, as she is an only, and I also manage very few activities because I am very busy shit at life

I think the second one I will do to an extent, as I don't want anything untoward to come up, however my parents didn't supervise my phone or internet use at all, so I won't be doing it obsessively.

funnyperson Sat 02-Mar-13 14:21:03

How odd. Who is Claire Perry? Apart from being an MP what authority does she have? Power, clearly, since she is in the papers, but authority?

Anyway: guilty of providing structured activities- almost certainly too much, but I am pleased to report that years later DC are not computer bound as a result of developjng a liking and habit for extracurricular activities. Not necessarily the same ones we spend loadsamoney and time on, but similar. The advantage is they arent depressed and have a good social life.

Not guilty of spying on texts. Guilty of being their facebook friends and sending private messages when their online friendship circle appears unsuitable or unsuitable language or unsuitable links are on their home page. Both, oddly, continue to be my facebook friends and seem pleased to have a mum that is looking out for them. I sent a particularly waspish message to someone who was very rude posting on DD home page and that person shut up. Both DC are in their 20's.

AlisonMoyet Sat 02-Mar-13 14:22:47

I agree with texting snooping.

Mate of mine discovered long term grooming by a family member in this way.
You might have to turn a blind eye to swearing etc but you can't be too careful.

AlisonMoyet Sat 02-Mar-13 14:23:29

Lol. You send messages to your ADULT KIDS FRIENDS on fb?!!

exoticfruits Sat 02-Mar-13 14:31:49

This is what she says in the article:

Children’s lives are being blighted by intrusive parenting that leaves them unable to cope on their own, according to David Cameron’s adviser on childhood.
Every moment of a child’s life is filled with organised activities, leaving young people unable to fend for themselves when they go to university, according to Claire Perry. Yet at the same time, they are allowed free range of the internet, where real dangers lie. “We’ve created a treadmill. It’s usually the mother that is orchestrating all of that and doing all the driving,” Mrs Perry said. “We have created rods for our own back. Children need time to be bored.”

Many parents admit that they do not know how to balance protecting their children and preparing them for adult life where alcohol is cheap, drugs widely available and sexualised images are easy to find on the internet

Mrs Perry said that, despite the intense focus on children’s lives, parents were often afraid to lay down the law. “Good parenting isn’t just about making sure they come top in maths but all the difficult stuff too. If they don’t learn the limits from us who is going to tell them?”

There is too much to copy and paste-these are the bits that I agree with in general.

We can't afford to send dd(13) or ds(3) to hundreds of activities so dd quite often has to think for herself and come up with interesting ways to spend her time on a budget (bit like when I was her age). Ds has fun going to the park and things that don't cost heaps of money.

I snoop on dd's text message and facebook messages loads of times then bring up any topics that i think need addrssing, sometimes I think she is going to see how blatently I know what is goinng on in her life but so far nope.

zzzzz Sat 02-Mar-13 14:47:57

God I am so bored of "parenting" bashing. But no I don't recognise my children's lives in her little rant. How utterly depressing that she can find nothing original or even useful to say.

PixelAteMyFace Sat 02-Mar-13 14:49:20

I wish my parents had organised activities for me. It never even seemed to occur to them that I could benefit from actually doing something other than go to school.

I know that some parents go overboard with the number of activities their children do, but I would have thought they were such a minority that they were scarcely worth mentioning.

Far more harmful in my view is the emotional neglect that seems to be so prevalent.

I`m always shocked to hear that many families rarely eat together, with meals being taken on a tray in front of the tv. As children these days often have their own tv in their bedroom, when do families actually get together to talk about their day?

Children need their parents love and attention; no amount of expensive gadgets can compensate for indifferent parenting.

Bonsoir Sat 02-Mar-13 14:51:46

A very few of the parents I know do the sort of parenting criticised by Claire Perry. While I strongly agree with that sort of parenting being infantilising and dangerous, I do think it is a minority activity.

I disagree strongly with DC being allowed to be bored, however. Boredom is not constructive. DC need to be taught skills that they can practice on their own, without supervision, but leaving them to entertain themselves with no useful skills is incredibly harmful.

LineRunner Sat 02-Mar-13 15:11:36

Her full name is Claire Loud Perry according to wiki.

Somewhat apt if true, as she is the one David Dimbleby had to keep shutting up on Question Time on Thursday night.

Faxthatpam Sat 02-Mar-13 15:14:12

She's living in middle class oblivion. These are not issues that should be anywhere near her top priority.

1. Most parents can't afford this, so it's irrelevant. Of those that can, ime most are pretty sensible about it and just give their kids swimming lessons and maybe music/football/dance lessons if they are really keen. It's a tiny % who run around to Mandarin/Mini Latin/Ballet/Rugby/Harp/Lacrosse lessons every minute.

2. 'Snooping' is the wrong word. I think you are risking your relationship with your teen if you do this. You talk to them, explain the risks and tell them you will be making random checks to ensure their safety. This has worked so far for us and we (mostly) trust them. If we saw a red flag we would certainly look at their accounts more regularly and they know this, they know exactly where our line is. They also know we love them and would help them out of a bad situation if they made a mistake. However, teenagers need a private life, I said and did all sorts of stuff that my parents knew nothing about at their age. But I had learned where the boundaries were and knew not to cross them. That's what parents are for. Trust is important with teens, but does need to be earned. I certainly don't agree that most parents are living in "digital oblivion". Some live in chaos, which is where help is really needed, she needs to look at all the issues surrounding that chaos before lecturing us all in this way.

I think she is a silly woman, jumping on a parenting bandwagon.

edam Sat 02-Mar-13 15:33:16

I think it's a fair point that some parents have their kids doing organised activities every night after school and at the weekends too yet are remarkably lax about supervising what their kids get up to online.

Boredom - I think the idea is you should leave kids to amuse themselves sometimes, rather than constantly direct their activities. Children whose every hour is filled full of stuff they are told to do, that is organised by adults, are not being given the chance to develop and grow. They are not learning the skills they need to cope in adult life. Those children do exist and it's good to see criticism that applies to middle class parents - usually the media and political focus is always on bashing poor families. I know these children exist, I see them at ds's state primary, btw - one, two or even three organised activities a night, every night at least one. (Three e.g. if they are in brownies/cubs, learning an instrument and doing more than one sport.) Then the parents moan that they are always busy rushing from ballet to brownies to swimming... how do they think the kids feel?!

Fillyjonk75 Sat 02-Mar-13 15:47:07

Apart from gay marriage, this Government is getting everything wrong. So excuse me for paying little attention to any of her "advice".

I wonder how many organised activities politicians' pampered over-privileged dears in private/public schools do? I bet they have no time to take a breath between clarinet, horse-riding, mandarin, lacrosse, which nanny takes them to, of course. And then they get packed off to boarding school, where their lives are organised for them, then to Cambridge where their lives are organised for them, then to Inns of Court or straight to Westminster, where their lives are organised for them. So they live their lives with others looking after them and never having to fend for themselves.

And then it goes full circle and they lecture the proles on how to live their lives. Never having actually met one, you understand. But much more seriously, they also presume to know what's best for the country and how to run it.

Startail Sat 02-Mar-13 15:51:42

Given Ofsted have just put the DCs perfectly satisfactory school in to special measures for the most spurious of reasons the government can piss off.
(They are an academy, so they don't even have that excuse).

It is not going to make my DCs lives better if school roll falls and teacher recruitment becomes even harder.

It is not going to make them have more free time if teachers give out more HW.

PolkadotCircus Sat 02-Mar-13 16:07:04

Hmm what a load of tosh.

I get pissed off when wealthy Tories with kids probably going to private school (which have a lot of extras included and top notch teaching)and a life of connections ahead of them tell us with kids in shite schools what to do(yes I'm looking at you Boris and your dad too).

Should we all have pots of time and cash to try and help our kids get on(which nobody I know actually does) who are Ms Perry and Eaton boy to judge?

Chewbecca Sat 02-Mar-13 16:10:03

I don't think the comments are inaccurate as such but i don't think they should be top priorities.
Yes it is true that some parents organise too many activities. They are generally caring loving parents who want the best for their children. I personnally agree it is not ideal but I don't think these parents need reprimanding by the govt or that it is an issue the govt needs to take any action on whatsoever.
Re: the second point, I think this is also true and more concerning. I think there would be benefit to educate parens in this matter, just a website containing simply advice would suffice.
I do think there are much bigger childcare / parenting issues that are likely to cause much more damage to children (neglect, poverty etc) and that these are the issues govt should focus their efforts on, not parents who are trying too hard.

sarahseashell Sat 02-Mar-13 16:13:37

pointless parent blaming based on a very narrow viewpoint which will achieve nothing. misogynistic undertones as well IMO

waste of resources Tories should be concentrating on tackling child poverty which is a real issue they are responsible for.

PolkadotCircus Sat 02-Mar-13 16:14:36

Who are these parents?

We're on enough to lose our CB and have to rely on grandparents to pay for swimming lessons?

I don't know anybody with the money to pay for hoards of activities,even subs for cubs are a masseeeeeeve amount of £s.

Just shows how massively out of touch the Tories are with the real world.

PolkadotCircus Sat 02-Mar-13 16:15:37

And cupcakesconfused,what is she on about?

someoftheabove Sat 02-Mar-13 16:17:19

Is it just me wondering why the f**k Cameron needs an advisor on childhood?

blondieminx Sat 02-Mar-13 16:18:35

Is the ConDem coalition trying to wind parents up? I should be a core voter for them (degree, city job, married) but the onslaught of family unfriendly initiatives in recent months have really put me off!

angry cuts to children's services like sure start
angry failing to recruit the 3000 extra mw's we were promised at the election
angry the nursery ratio shambles which has boiled my piss, quite frankly. with its incredible stupidity.
...and now Pushy Perry wants to tell parents who want to provide their kids with interesting activities that we're doing it all wrong? hmm

Articles like those show just how totally out of touch our supposed representatives are.

If she really wants to help perhaps she should stick to trying to secure funding for children's services rather than denigrating parents so we get het up about that while they cut more classes at sure start/close another hospital/close another library?

Perry, if you're reading this, have a biscuit biscuit to stop the flow of utter nonsense from your mouth.

PolkadotCircus Sat 02-Mar-13 16:21:48

Well when you have people in the party who think families spend their CB on stocking the wine cellar and going on 'decent'(whatever that is) ski-ing holidays what do we expect.grin

What a load of rubbish about children being "overparented". My childhood was completely filled with "planned activity" outside of school, arranged by my mother: Brownies, dancing, acting, debating, later on charitable work and teaching younger children. I never had a spare moment. My parents took me here there and everywhere and were always there to support when I was performing etc. It did me no harm, did the world of good and I went to University and did just fine thanks.

PolkadotCircus Sat 02-Mar-13 16:24:32

I think we all need to just sick our fingers in our ears and get through the last few years of this joke of a gov.Lets face it any other party will be better for families than the condems.

Merrylegs Sat 02-Mar-13 16:24:55

I switched off as soon as I read the words 'rod' and 'back'.

She's right about cupcakes though. I bloody love 'em.

AScorpionPitForMimes Sat 02-Mar-13 16:27:36

1) Not in my world - DH and I earn fairly well, but both work f/t so there is no time for an endless round of 'activities'. And much of the weekend is spent making sure the house doesn't end up a toxic dump. Most of the (perfectly normal middle class) parents round here are like this. Yes, my DDs used a before and after school club until last year, but now they walk to and from school independently, and they are certainly allowed to go and play outside. I do like baking and cooking, but IMO passing these things on to your DC is useful. Not just cupcakes, but roasts, curries, anything really. It's not an 'activity', it's an essential.

2) By the time you need to 'snoop' you're too late. You need to educate them before you let them out on the www. My older DD has a mobile phone - it is a phone. No camera, no gadgets, certainly no Internet. DD2 will not get a phone until she is in secondary. All Internet use in this house is supervised. Except mine, obviously. grin. No TVs in bedrooms in this house either - not the DDs, not ours either.

DontHaveAtv Sat 02-Mar-13 16:32:58

Yeah I feel sorry for the children who have endless activities after school. I mean that must be far worse than a child living in poverty or being abused.

Typical Tory twaddle.


fuckwittery Sat 02-Mar-13 16:46:26

The first point seems like a first world problem.
I'm not sure what research she's basing the second one, but yes, there are problems with allowed unsupervised online access which people need to be aware of. I'm not sure what this "we're all complicit" thing means. Does she mean that her government has not put in place adequate safeguards? I agree.

fuckwittery Sat 02-Mar-13 16:46:59

Referring to the opt in not opt out porn debate.

I was going to start a thread on this, having seen this on the front page of The times this morning ....
where the headline is "Parents have got it wrong, childhood guru warns"

Beneath the caption it continues, quoting Mrs Perry, Cameron's adviser on childhood ....

"We've created a treadmill. It's usually the mother that is orchestrating all of that and doing all the driving. We have created rods for our own back. Children need time to be bored."

Well, that just makes me think there was a time when a headline in The Times carried some weight, when it was based on some new research, had some rigour and substance. You would hope the same sort of things could be said for the publicised comments of the prime minister's adviser on childhood.

But these thoughts seem much less well thought through ....

Basically as posters have said up-thread do we really think that children would be better off without their parents active involvement in a wide variety of stimulating, educational activities, that often build on their existing and developing interests. Would my children really have been better off if I'd not taken them to ballet and Irish dancing, to taekwondo and karate (black belt at 10), to clarinet, trumpet, flute, and band practice, swimming with the family on Sunday afternoons, Quaker meetings on Sunday mornings. These more structured activities have still left plenty of opportunity for park, seaside, watching TV, playing computer games, building dens in the garden & yes, even being bored !

But if you're going to give advice to the prime minister and the country's parents Mrs Perry, and talk to The Times about your views, could you make sure that next time they're considered and founded on some rigorous research, and not just whatever ramblings you think will gain some publicity and perhaps a few votes from the lazy

If The Times is looking for a real childhood guru to advise the nation they could do worse than turn to Tina Bruce, early years educationalist whose philosophy can be summarised as follows ...

"Children need stimulating first-hand experiences which they can make their own through free-flow play"

So, yes, children need some time to play in childhood. But why not say so ?
Play should be at the heart of childhood, as well as exploration of a wide variety of stimulating activities, ... not boredom !

amothersplaceisinthewrong Sat 02-Mar-13 17:15:03

I understood the boredom bit to mean that being bored and not stimulated all the time can have the effect of making children use their imagination to come up with something to alleviate the boredom.

Did she actually say, "We're all getting it wrong" - or was that an inflammatory way to ask our opinions?

Because I would think only a very small minority of (wealthy) parents are getting it wrong in the way she outlines.

Most of us are getting it wrong in other ways that don't involve cupcakes.

"Most of us are getting it wrong in other ways that don't involved cupcakes" grin @ euphemism

mathanxiety Sat 02-Mar-13 17:32:19

This from someone whose party has ended free legal aid for family cases?


Actually I think that a well chosen activity or two, especially one that builds on their interests and talents, is so good for children's self-esteem and developing attitudes to life and learning, that it would be great if the government could provide every child with an "educational enhancement" voucher to be spent on a weekly after-school activity of their and their family's choice.

Perhaps this is the sort of idea the government is trying to head off at the pass.

alreadytaken Sat 02-Mar-13 17:42:12

both have been discussed to death before - so 1. No What does she things thousands of young people are doing at university - relying on their manservants, perhaps? 2. contradicts 1 so typical government stupidity. I'd agree some parents don't supervise young people enough, fortunately most young people survive it. The level of supervision needs to vary with the degree of responsibility of the child.

KatieMiddleton Sat 02-Mar-13 17:49:45

Can't see any data or other evidence being cited?

It does rather smack of middle class handwringing rather than anything constructive.

I'd rather we focused efforts of those parents who neglect and mistreat their children instead of this load of unevidenced tosh.

RedToothBrush Sat 02-Mar-13 17:56:14

My highly intelligent and articulated response to her well supported and document evidence for this is:

"You're a muppet"

It not even worthy of discussion. I think someone needs a new advisor to 'win back the woman's vote' if this is the best this one can come up with.

IfNotNowThenWhen Sat 02-Mar-13 18:02:41

Erm. I WISH I could afford to take ds to loads of "activities". But I can't,so is irrelevant.
As for the digital thing, yes, to a point that is true. Many kids of 11/12 seem to have smart phones on which they can pretty much do as they like, and see God knows what.
I think when ds gets older he will have a shock that he ain't getting an i phone!

But at the end of the day, if they give a shit about childhood, they could start by scrapping the new nursery ratios bollocks, re-opening the Sure Start centres, investing in new leisure centres and council pools (ours is literally falling apart) and stopping allowing councils to sell off green space.

duchesse Sat 02-Mar-13 18:26:45

Actually (though I hate to admit it), I wholeheartedly agree with her on both points, and brought my older children up pretty much along these lines.

My older DC are turning out just fine- strong, resilient, active, pleasant and mature individuals with a wide variety of interests and excellent students. Oldest one is 19 and in 2nd year of university. Has lived in shared house since he started university as he got in through clearing and couldn't get halls. He seems absolutely fine. The DDs are all involved in a wide variety of things- DD1 works at weekends and very full-time study for the IB. They have strong intrinsic motivation and a very sensible attitude to friends (and who is, and isn't a friend).

rollmopses Sat 02-Mar-13 18:54:56

Completely agree with her. Hopefully she'll be able to actually implement her ideas.

nenevomito Sat 02-Mar-13 19:05:59

Oh blah, blah, blah.

SOME parents may do this, but they're not issues I've come across in my social circle. Maybe she just hangs out with the wrong kind of people.

'Advisor on Childhood'. Oy hmm!

nenevomito Sat 02-Mar-13 19:08:57

Oh and <sigh> at it being the Mother's fault. Its just an extension of the whole SAHM /WOHM - 'Damned if you do damned if you don't" argument.

I do have a problem with the sexualisation of children, particularly girls, but to tie this up with a sideswipe at women / mothers in general detracts from the one decent point in the whole piece.

Smudging Sat 02-Mar-13 19:12:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RefuseToWorry Sat 02-Mar-13 19:13:22

I get this parenting thing wrong on a regular basis, but I'm learning from my mistakes, and my 3 dc seem to be surviving pretty well.

Could the perfect parent please stand up?

UptoapointLordCopper Sat 02-Mar-13 19:38:56

Others may have made the same points earlier, but:

EVIDENCE PLEASE. Or is it all based on what her circle of friends are doing which she terribly disapproves of? hmm

And how much time and energy I devote to baking cupcakes is none of her business. If you like baking cupcakes bake them. No Tory MP is going to tell me whether I should be obsessed with cupcakes or not. Honestly. What's wrong with baking cupcakes? This is a symptom of deep misogyny which demeans perceived feminine activities.

MerryCouthyMows Sat 02-Mar-13 19:40:25

1) Not likely, I don't have the money to do so. My DC's are more likely to be playing in the Country Park or playing board games than expensive, organised activities.

2) Of course I do - my 14yo DD would not be allowed on fb if I wasn't allowed her password so that I can check on her activity whenever I want. Ditto access to mobile. Why wouldn't you keep an eye on what your DC's are up to online? You don't need to 'spy' on them - but you do need to make sure that they are keeping themselves safe.

And which of Cameron's other advisers have no qualifications and little relevant experience for their role ?

Which other front page articles in The Times recently have been based on no research or evidence ....

A recipe for a cupcake is more thoroughly researched and detailed than this recipe for the ingredients and method needed to raise your child/ our next generation of citizens wink

exoticfruits Sat 02-Mar-13 19:54:15

I am surprised that MN missed yesterday's Times with a report on Sue Palmer's new book ' raising unhappy girls, a troubled generation' ( or similar title) . It makes Claire Perry seem very mild.

inthewildernessbuild Sat 02-Mar-13 20:22:02

I suppose she is saying that the money we spend on organised activities or electronic gadgets cannot replace the TIME we might spend with them if we weren't too busy earning money, or ferrying them.

I don't agree in the detail, because most activities teach children independence or some vital skill which helps them holistically, like how to do team sports, or improve their coordination or learn an instrument. Scouts for example can raise self esteem, extra tuition can make the difference between understanding something and never understanding it.

But I do agree that it shouldn't replace what you can do for free, talk to your kids, converse with them, walk with them, hang around with them. Kids don't want to hang around their parents all the time, but the most hardened teenager wants their parent's attention, some of the time.

RubyrooUK Sat 02-Mar-13 20:26:15

"We've created a treadmill, it's usually the mother that is orchestrating all of that and doing all the driving" - well, nice of Ms Perry not to massively over-generalise about an entire gender.

"A lot of it is women who, because it is difficult to get on, subjugate their own ambition into their kids" - again, nice to her to basically say that women fail at their careers or life dreams and so have to badger their kids to do well.

I just find this so depressing. If a man said it, he'd be ripped apart as a sexist fool who was out of touch.

I accept that many parents will not be as digital savvy as their children. But you don't need to do anything apart from exist to see that.

Does the government really think what British people really need at the moment is some woman-bashing "expert" telling them stuff that sounds like it could have been spouted in the 1950s? When the government is cutting genuinely needed services that help children without much money behind them access much-needed care and support?

ravenAK Sat 02-Mar-13 20:30:17

Nope, sorry.

CBA to get cross about some random Tory chancer doing her witterings (apart from being mildly aggrieved that we're presumably paying her for them), or indeed even to read them.

I can't see any reason why what she has to say about parenting deserves more of an audience than say, my mum, or the lady with a guitar who runs our local toddler group, f'rinstance.

But she isn't saying anything outrageous enough to get upset about, is she?

I really can't believe that our government's adviser on childhood thinks the first thing that needs addressing in our society to make things better for children (her first point after all) is ......

mothers should stop taking their children to so many after-school activities.

Is she for real ?! And where is her evidence that this does more harm than good.
Because IMHO she is completely wrong.

Plus there are so many more important issues it's not true !

.... Such as child poverty for one (as many here have said)

timidviper Sat 02-Mar-13 21:00:51

I think there is some truth in what she says, primarily for a certain sector of society i.e. the middle classes.

I do think the issues of setting boundaries/discipline and being too involved are relevant for many parents though. A lot of parents now think their children should be the centre of everything and expect schools, universities, etc should bend to accomodate them rather than expecting their child to fit in.

I do, however think the issues of poverty, neglect and poor education should be far more pressing though

yummymummy345 Sat 02-Mar-13 21:01:45

These are such minor points for Claire Perry to be getting concerned about.

However, surely it is better for the child to be at an activity than watching tv all day- socialising and perhaps learning something, exploring their interest? Far better than to have an adult ignore them and not bother or worse. Also does Perry assume everyones goal in life is to go to university? in the future especially it will not be 'the be all and end all'.

Should be pushing for communication and education, that is all parents can do regarding children being on their smart phones etc

Sorry if it has already been mentioned, but

Go Justine!!!

But Mrs Perry's views came under fire from Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts, who insisted parents were "doing their best" and were "knackered most of the time".

She told BBC News: "Mothers are, sadly, used to copping a lot of blame - but being charged with being over-protective, cupcake-baking helicopter parents at the same time as being feckless, couch potatoes who let their children have unfettered internet access is a bit rich.

"Of course there are some 'tiger mum' types who are micromanaging packed improvement schedules for their children... but on Mumsnet certainly, they are far outweighed by others who share Clare Perry's view that unstructured time is really important."

Ms Roberts added: "Politicians could more usefully perhaps focus on improving local schools, job prospects, childcare options and flexible work solutions than telling us how to be better parents."


trustissues75 Sat 02-Mar-13 21:18:44

If they're so worried about he nation's children perhaps they should ocus on the shambles that they are about to create with single working parents and how it's going to drive children even further into poverty? Perhaps they should be addressing the very real crisis of lack of affordable housing? Perhaps they should be concentrating on the education system and that it's a complete shambles? Perhaps they should concentrate on making sure there is good quality, affordable child care available for families struggling to make ends meet? Where are all these parents who have all this free time to ferry their kids from one activity to the next? Perhaps they should concentrate on making the bloody robbing banks and multinational companies pay their way instead of using the weak and vulnerable as "scrounging" scapegoats. I wonder how much money this woman is being paid?

Well said Justine - and I'm glad the cupcakes got a mention grin - they were the most surreal bit and the most amusing wink

Thinking about the nation's children as a whole -- all nearly-15-million of them -- does Ms Perry really think that the top issue facing them is that their parents spend too much time ferrying them around between tennis lessons, swimming and extra Mandarin? Really ? Did she miss this story, for example? Or this one? Or this?

trustissues75 Sat 02-Mar-13 21:40:47

Go Justine indeed!!!!! To my mind this woman's job is like a lot o the jobs within this government...created to scrutinise, criticise and create a pile of useless sound-bites to avoid actually doing anything of use and to try to detract attention from the real issues we are facing.

OrWellyAnn Sat 02-Mar-13 21:41:39

Half the people I know can no longer afford after school activities and are so damn busy WORKING in the evening to pay for the rising cost of everything and lack of pay rises that it's not surprising the can't 'snoop' on their kids.

Stupid, out of touch, disenfranchised. Don't know how else to describe this woman. Love to see her survive on our wages AND be the perfect parent. This govt seems determined to alienate it's people on every level.

I think she was very undermining actually of the fabulous job most mothers do in raising their children, of their tremendous energy, love, and commitment in doing their best for their DC's.

And a very important part of what we can offer is in delegating some of that input into our children's lives to others. We choose carefully those that will be able to complement what we ourselves can offer. So for example with my DS he has extra male input from a world champion karate teacher, a fine trumpet teacher (who was able to identify that DS had a natural aptitude for that instrument) and band leader. These men have provided wonderful, diverse role models to my DS, in addition to the contribution DH can offer.

I'm slightly offended by the way Mrs Perry talks about both my efforts and theirs (all those also contributing their time and talents in my DC's lives)
As they say "It takes a village to raise a child"
IMHO my views are more considered and balanced than hers.
If she ends up with egg on her face over this I'd like to apply for the job please Mr Prime Minister ! (DC is confusing on here !)

germyrabbit Sat 02-Mar-13 21:42:36

i dunno, i agree with lots of what she is saying and in my experience kids either get too much or too little

to be honest i'd rather concentrate on the kids who are left to wander the streets alone or with other kids but the children who are ferried about to lesson after lesson without any free time do suffer too.

i agree parents are doing the best they can but sometimes i do think they interfere too much in their childrens lives.

this is what i've experienced in rl btw not on mn

germyrabbit Sat 02-Mar-13 21:43:47

weird how so many on here are affronted by her views, maybe a feeling of being a bit too near the truth?

curryeater Sat 02-Mar-13 21:44:50

Yep, thanks for standing up for us Justine.

Another thing occurred to me - all these "activities" might be less important if kids could, for instance, have proper music lessons at state school.

Too near the truth?

I cannot afford to heat my fucking house, nevermind take my kids to all the classes going.

And I dont need to worry about my DDs access to the internet, 1) shes 4 and 2) I use my phone. We dont have a laptop or PC because again, we cannot afford it.

I don't think it's weird germy and definitely not that she's too close to the truth - I'm affronted by her ill thought out views because I care about the children in our country and the attitudes and policies which will affect their lives.
There are so many other things that any spokeswoman for children and families or adviser on childhood should be saying instead

germyrabbit Sat 02-Mar-13 21:52:31

why are you taking my post personally?

germyrabbit Sat 02-Mar-13 21:53:27

sorry that was to wanna, so what should she be focussing on?

I am not taking it personally. I am sure that a lot of others on here have similar difficulties to me.

I am offended by your post. But I didnt take it personally.

germyrabbit Sat 02-Mar-13 21:56:42

offended? how?

Because you have missed all the posts saying that people would prefer she tackled real issues. Some people here agree with her. I do to an extent.

But my grievance is not just with what she has said, its not close to the truth. My grievance is with what she hasnt said. The issues she isnt raising.

germyrabbit Sat 02-Mar-13 22:06:05

so that's offensive to you? confused

perhaps she will cover more 'important' issues as well. thought what she said was quite interesting myself, we do need to worry about what they can access online

so what should she be saying and doing?

She should be looking at the ways the governments policies are affecting children in real terms.

Quality of state education, child poverty, high housing costs and how that leads to overcrowding and children being brought up in houses that arent fit for purpose. I could go on.

germyrabbit Sat 02-Mar-13 22:13:29

perhaps she will now mn has given her such a negative reception

She could say that it's good to give your children some attention and focus on their interests and what's important to them - to try to make sure that each of your DC's gets some time to talk with you on a regular basis.
Lots of good, basic, straight-forward, encouraging, (and well researched and evidenced) parenting advice she could share with us all for children's benefit ....
instead of these random ramblings hmm

Then she could pick up on some of those fundamental issues that affect us all as parents that Justine mentioned .... and actually do some things to help.

But she's probably in the wrong party to be interested in that !

germyrabbit Sat 02-Mar-13 22:22:13

but that a totally useless thing for her to say! mn does make me laugh so quick to jump in with an opinion yet so oblivious to the real world

iclaudius Sat 02-Mar-13 22:23:35

I fundamentally agree with her. Down the line. I see so much ferrying about of children for instance whilst people pull sad faves at my ten year old wanting to walk home alone!!
At the other end of the scale my university- child aged parents with the phone pinging every five minutes because Johhnnies got a cold - probably because he can't eat properly because he can't cook clean or wash his own clothes at 21

I found the first part offensive.

What she seems to be saying is this;

some teens do so much swimming, tennis, French and piano that mummy forgets to teach them how to cook or wash their clothes. They have such a terrible first team at university they just live on beans on toast!!! Awful!!

If only I (and 85% of country had those problems!).

As for the second part, I would like to see govt also look at options against accessibility of porn rather than solely blaming parents.

iclaudius Sat 02-Mar-13 22:25:14

Whoops posted too soon could go on and on but on phone - will check in later but was VERY pleased to see this advisor speaking do much sense. It's a new thing - my parenting experiences spam 20 years and its far far worse now than ten years ago...

LimeLeafLizard Sat 02-Mar-13 22:25:29

Oh just seen Justine's quote. Hooray for Justine!

Couldn't have said it better myself! smile

I don't agree that it would be a totally useless thing for her to say ....

IMHO many parents sadly do not realise the value of sharing attention with your child on whatever they are focused on in that moment as a fundamental way of developing their learning and language skills.

To put it another way, too many children are ignored too much of the time sad

germyrabbit Sat 02-Mar-13 22:30:38

maybe not, but i don't think claire was thinking about mnetters when she published her findings.

germyrabbit Sat 02-Mar-13 22:33:36

i sometimes wish mn could view the world away from their middle class/or lower class bubbles

it's an all or nothing stance on here - anyone trying to have a say if shouted down as claire is here

are any of you willing to take to the plate and have your view, you can you know, we live in a democracy where you can too be claire and have your voices heard or are you just happy to sit behind a PC bleating and critising those you do.

ivykaty44 Sat 02-Mar-13 22:36:12

We fill every moment of our children's lives with organised activities,
Most parents are too busy,

so which one is it?

It can't be both as they contradict each other - either we keep are children so busy that they never have time for anything else or the parents are to busy we don't know what they are doing - but it sure as hell can't be both at once.

Things will get worse with the UC as then parents will not be around at all to actually parent their children - for 13 weeks a year children will need to parent themselves

Then of course the parents will be blamed for letting there children run riot whilst the parents work - well thats what the government want - parents to work full time and not be with their children once they are over 5 years old. Which is fine but then don't blame parents for not being around to actually parent

Surely the middle class and lower class make up the majority of the population.

Not sure how thats a bubble. Since when was the high earner bracket the real world.

Sorry but grin grin grin at that notion.

germyrabbit Sat 02-Mar-13 22:45:15

nope the majority of the population are in the middle

bemused why you find such humour in that

LimeLeafLizard Sat 02-Mar-13 22:45:43

germy Claire is entitled to her opinion, as are we all, but the difference between her and us is that she is PAID (by our taxes) to give her advice, and it should therefore be based on evidence. She hasn't 'published her findings', because she hasn't 'found' anything, since she hasn't done any research.

domesticslattern Sat 02-Mar-13 22:46:07

Great quote from Justine there- hear hear!

germyrabbit Sat 02-Mar-13 22:46:56

i dunno i agree with her research so far and i am not a tory

I don't see how it's not part of sharing views in a democracy to write them on here. It's more convenient at 22.46 at night when I've had a glass of wine wine than driving round to number 10 personally and having a word with the PM. And you never know both he and Mrs Perry may just get to hear about said views this way anyhow. Stranger things have happened !

LimeLeafLizard Sat 02-Mar-13 22:49:21

What research do you agree with? She hasn't done any as far as I can tell.

She is a financial manager who worked in the city, took 7 years off as a SAHM and has been in this job for one month.

WhoWhatWhereWhen Sat 02-Mar-13 22:51:51

She has a point, my own children do activities 3 nights a week and all Saturday afternoon and they are by no means doing the most organised activities amongst their peers, I feel It's a cop out performed by middle class parents who over compensate for the lack of interest they have in their children, too many parents just can't be arsed to be with their own kids for more than 5mins.

Lets face it though what I've described above is far from the worst style of parenting.

I have just read that only around 10% of the UK population earn over £50k.

Ten percent. Just ten.

That means the majority of the population earn below this amount.

Bubble you say???

Agree with ivykaty and others too that there is a bizarre contradiction and lack of focus in her raising of these two completely different issues.

All they have in common IMHO is their position on the fringe of relevance grin

newshoots Sat 02-Mar-13 23:03:02

She comes across as a twit.

I'm not saying her observations are not valid, she is I guess reflecting the experience of her circle of aquaintance. But she is not offering any political solutions, so what IS her point?

germyrabbit Sat 02-Mar-13 23:03:24

oh well i shall await you all doing a better job wink

newshoots Sat 02-Mar-13 23:05:24

I think she ought to just post on AIBU and stop having pretensions of improving the governance of the UK.

Yes newshoots," AIBU to think mothers should stop ferrying their DC's to endless after school clubs and actually spend some time with them ? Surely one activity a night is more than enough for any child ? "

Sure, I can see it now, and I'd probably have a bit more sympathy for it in that context ...
but I'd still be coming down on the YABU side and telling you all what my DC's get up to and how fab their after-school activity leaders are smile

inthewildernessbuild Sat 02-Mar-13 23:18:12

On further consideration, I can see the link between children being highly directed and failing to learn a lot of basic skills. On Monday for example I had a son doing Scouts, and football, and loads of homework. Not surprisingly there wasn't much time left in the afternoon for him to do any chores, the sort you might expect from a twelve year old. He's tired, he wants supper prepared; I don't want him to be so tired that he decides not to do the activities so I don't hassle him over the boring stuff (bins, laundry, table laying) That's the way it goes...the irony is he goes to Scouts where they teach him useful practical skills...

We have dropped Scouts, reasonably...I wonder why I ever let the evenings get so exhausting? And so it continues for the rest of the week/weekend, football, Guides, Fencing, Netball, to and froing, violin, choir, Netball matches. Yes it keeps out of mischief, and keeps 3 couchpotatoes active, but maybe if I did NOTHING they would organise this stuff themselves, and go round to friends houses, and just DO STUFF?

ivykaty44 Sat 02-Mar-13 23:21:37

germyrabbi - I am doing a good job at being a mother, I have two dd's and have cared for them and looked after them and they are now young lovely adult and a great teen.

Like a large portion of the population who are all doing the same, without asking for praise we love our children and want in our own ways to see them into adulthood as prospering young people.

Most of us will send these adults into the world knowing how to cook, clean, eanr a living and having been through more educational tests than any other generation in this country, through more education as nearly 50% will have been to uni.

Yet the government decides at a time when life is hard and the propspect of lossing jobs, becomeing unemployed to beat us with a stick and tell us we are doing a crap job at raising our own children the next generation.

Well perhaps they should look at the worst parents in the UK - that will be the government themselves as children in care take 90% of the places in any prison in this country....

ballstoit Sat 02-Mar-13 23:36:35

Mainly I think that David Camoron should stop pretending to care about childhood, when it's quite obvious from what's been cut in his 'spending reviews' that he doesn't give a tiny rats ass about the children in this country.

ZombiesAreClammyDodgers Sun 03-Mar-13 06:35:05

She may have a point on the first one. But as for the second, isn't it also because people are scrambling to keep their jobs in this economy that they aren't able to focus on parenting as much??
Maybe the insane cost of childcare is something more worth focusing on??

coraltoes Sun 03-Mar-13 06:45:56

There are children going fuckung HUNGRY in her country, and she cares about ballet classes vs play dough time?!

trustissues75 Sun 03-Mar-13 06:47:28

Germyrabbit - the problem I see with what she has had to say is that she is looking at symptoms without realising there are actual real problems behind what she's seeing - if in fact that is what she's actually seeing, there's a chance that what she's seeing is from her own privileged little bubble.

I had no idea us middle and lower classes were so blinkered (an I've been both, if one counts purely income and where one lives as an indicator of class - oh and I've also travelled the world and seen a lot more than the "average person" , or so I'm told) obviously I haven't seen and experienced enough to be able to look at things from various points of view - seeing as you so disdainfully look down on us lower and middle classes do you have any spare cash so I,, and others similarly stricken with blinkeredness can widen my horizons a little more thus enabling me to make a more useful contribution to discussions such as this?

I read about this in yesterday's Times. What Justine said, 100%. Just more mother/parent bashing.

Chottie Sun 03-Mar-13 07:47:05

I didn't even bother to read the article. I've been a mum since 1977 and there have been loads of 'experts' telling me I was doing everything 'wrong'. shock but somehow despite their mum doing everything 'wrong' my DC managed to grow up ok smile

PolkadotCircus Sun 03-Mar-13 08:07:50

Exactly Chottie, for some reason parents these days aren't capable of parenting or following instincts on what is right for our children. Government,media and an endless line of "studies" seem to think they know best and we're doing it all wrong.

These "experts" have expanded massively in recent years.What on earth has happened since the 70s when my parents were just left by and large to parent in peace?(growing up in the 70s and 80s isms fab thread if you want to be reminded if how you did it all wrong)

My mum despairs of all the pressure my sister and I are under.

I try to tune most of it out and take it all with a very large pinch of salt.grin

curryeater Sun 03-Mar-13 09:22:58

Bubbles or not, things really are tough and getting tougher for parents, whether you are the sort who is discovering that being in a higher tax band in no way equips you to send your children to private school as your parents did, or whether you are the sort who worries where the hell you are going to find the rent, the gas, and the electric money and when something goes up £5 you want to cry. AND A LOT OF IT IS ABOUT THIS GOVT'S POLICIES.
And thisunprovoked niggling and bitching shows an incredible lack of sensitivity to that.

- which, in a perverse way, gives me hope. Because the incredible out-of-touchness of a govt who can produce this sort of irrelevant pointless nastiness must surely be evident, and therefore surely we won't have to put up with them for too long?

curryeater Sun 03-Mar-13 09:29:59

Sorry, but I don't agree with "it was great in the 70s when parents could do what they wanted". I was a child in the 70s and I knew that there were kids in my class who were beaten, properly, at home, with belts and sticks. You could get the cane at school which was minor compared to some of the battering happening at home. Many of my friends were sexually abused by relatives (I found out later) and told no adults (and to my shame neither did I because they swore me to secrecy and I thought that was keeping my promise. But I didn't have adults who were confidantes either so had no one to tell anyway). My mother was unusual in that she had to know where we were and who with, and in that she limited sugar. (I didn't like those last 2 but I think she was right now.) A lot of children were really unhappy because their lives were a bit shit and no one cared because parents were always right.

PotPourri Sun 03-Mar-13 09:32:49

What a cheek!!! Am speechless. How very dare she. More proof that this government is completely removed from reality - No! - children named tarquin and tallulah who have more money than sense is not the 'norm'.

I shall think of this woman or her claptrap no further.

I'm so sorry for what you and your friends experienced curry sad
I agree that a leave parents to it approach is not the whole solution either.
Great point about government showing themselves to be so out of touch with reality that how long can they last BTW smile

LadyLech Sun 03-Mar-13 09:40:34

I think she's talking rubbish too.

My daughter would probably fit into the category of too many extra curricular activities. At 9, she does 18 hours training for gymnastics a week (she competes, her choice), an hour of ballet and she stays late for school once a week to do choir. She also goes to breakfast club to allow me to work. But I don't think this causes her to be ill equipped for coping with the adult world. At 9, she can make her own breakfast, make me a cup of tea, go to the shops to buy me something I need, plays out in the street, goes to the cinema with friends and no adults. She can help with many of the household tasks, like putting on a load of washing for me. In short, she is well on her way to becoming a rounded adult.

I do teach A level students myself, and so many of them are not ready for adulthood, they are babied. But I don't think this is down to extra curricular hobbies, I think that just confuses the matter.

As for the second, yes I think some parents are clueless about IT. I'm very aware of the Facebook functions, and how to hide posts etc, but so many of my friends seem to think that if they're friends with their children on Facebook, they'll see what is put on there. They seem unaware of the custom button, and as a teacher I know many students make great use of it to prevent their parents from seeing stuff they don't want their parents to see. Many run two accounts - one suitable for family, and a second hidden one that their parents don't know about!

That said I agree that there are far more important things to worry about than this!

curryeater Sun 03-Mar-13 09:45:17

juggling, don't be sorry for me! It was what I knew about with other kids that I found scary, not my own life.

Clarabumps Sun 03-Mar-13 09:57:03

Most children don't have every spare minute of their lives filled with activities as their parents cannot afford it. Most of the family budget is spent trying to feed and clothe them as make sure their heating bill is paid.
And as for uni- I doubt we can afford to send all three of our children to uni due to CaMORON squeezing every last penny from the working classes. They will probably have to get a job. If there is any left due to cutbacks everywhere.
It's exceptionally naive to say that this is the "norm" as for's bloody not!!!

Am glad you were OK curry. I'm not surprised you were worried about your friends though.

PolkadotCircus Sun 03-Mar-13 10:45:55

Sorry that experience was certainly not what I experienced in the 70s.Abuse will happen in all ages,it is the extreme which isn't what is being discussed.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Thumbwitch Sun 03-Mar-13 12:07:00

Guilty of not reading the entire thread so this might have been said already but I think her political subagenda here in point 1 is to show that all these "whingers" going on about how cuts are affecting their children's lives and putting them into poverty are in fact wasting money on forcing them to do activities that, once they get to University (ha!), they are no longer going to be able to afford without running up even more debt so there's no point in them doing them in the first place.
In other words, complete lack of understanding a) about who can afford to do these activities and b) what other benefits they can bring to a child, as well as the skill itself and c) how people less fortunate financially than herself and her social circle actually live.

Point 2 - Big Brother, much?

jellybeans Sun 03-Mar-13 12:51:04

I think some parents try to be friends more than parents. Also some feel guilty for long working hours and so spoil materially. More help for parents to spend more time at home would be good.

hoodoo12345 Sun 03-Mar-13 12:59:31

Why the fuck would i listen to anything this joke of a government says when it clearly evident they don't give a flying shit about struggling families, they really are a bad dream i wish i could wake up from.

She might be able to afford to do non-stop activities with her kids, but most of us in the real world either a) can't afford it, b) spend a lot of time working ourselves, and c) have a far more rational approach to parenthood.

Just another crap adviser trying to prove that she's actually doing some work for all the money they're paying her.

SanityClause Sun 03-Mar-13 13:10:37

Another Tory making pronouncements based on personal experience and anecdotal evidence? At least she's just an "advisor" and not the Minister for Education.

Meglet Sun 03-Mar-13 13:18:28

Seeing as the Tories are constantly pushing through 'reforms' that will hurt children and families then I couldn't give a shiny shit about what their 'childhood advisor' says about parenting.

AuntySib Sun 03-Mar-13 13:48:18

I think someone who farms off their children off to boarding school ( Ms Perry) doesn't really have relevant experience to pass judgement on other people's children.

vesela Sun 03-Mar-13 14:35:32

Yes, the problem of too many activities/not enough actual life skills is one that affects middle-class children. However, the problem is that, with social mobility in the UK being so weak, it is these children who will consider themselves born to run the country and be the ones becoming MPs' researchers etc. Claire Perry probably comes across them all the time. So I can understand her frustration smile

vesela Sun 03-Mar-13 14:43:23

Thumbwitch - agree. It's the "all children need is a wooden spoon to play with, and you can feed your family on 4p a week each if only you can be bothered to shop and cook properly" school of Tory cliché.

DieWilde13 Sun 03-Mar-13 15:24:59

I can't be asked to read the whole thread, and of course there are more pressing problems. Nevertheless, Claire Perry does have a point.

exoticfruits Sun 03-Mar-13 16:02:44

She has certainly upset people! It is very weird that people come on here very judgemental of other parents, but as soon as an outsider turns up they all close ranks! Of course there are lots of child poverty problems that need solving first but everyone knows at least one over protective, helicopter parent whose DC will end up at university not even knowing how to operate a washing machine and never having had to work out public transport alone.
Parenting is giving roots and giving wings and you have to start early-not strap them on at 18yrs and expect them to manage. And there are certainly many parents who won't simply say 'no' to their child-in case it upsets them!

That is odd, AuntySib -- given that her own three children are at boarding school, being pumped full of extracurricular activities outside her direct supervision, I'm not sure she's best placed to lecture everyone else on either "filling every moment of our children's lives with organised activities" or being "too busy to monitor our children's text messages and internet exchanges".

PolkadotCircus Sun 03-Mar-13 16:23:18

Boris Johnson's dad was lecturing us all re letting kids run feral and the woes of helicoptering.As his kids were educated privately with hoards of activities I suspect on site and a massive pad for kids to run wild safely around at home he too is talking out of his backside.

A cynic might think these wealthy Tories don't want all the riff raff lower classes in competition for uni places further down the line.

Angelico Sun 03-Mar-13 16:44:56

It pains me that I have to agree with anything Tory related but I actually do agree with both these points.

I have spent my career working with young people and I have repeatedly observed the following: young children / teens who can happily spend unstructured time on their own tend to have better mental health and better educational / life outcomes than those who can't. There is something about having to spend time alone that teaches kids about managing their expectations - and indeed coping with boredom and delayed gratification.

A couple of enjoyable hobbies for a child is great but I recently ran into an acquaintance who I hadn't seen in a while and immediately had to listen to the list of six activities that her DC were taken to every week (that's 6 each). It was like a comedy sketch of the pushy middle class mother. I would have laughed if I hadn't been exhausted just listening to the list confused

The trouble is it immediately breeds paranoia amongst other mothers: oh god, should little Charlie also be going to x, y and z to avoid being left behind?! Our DD is still a baby so have a while to psych myself up for this. I also think that unless we have had a very disordered upbringing parents need to rely on their own gut instincts and common sense more in raising children. There's too much navel gazing and hand wringing over the whole thing.

As for the digital stuff I think it is more important to give kids the right knowledge and sense of consequence that they make good choices themselves - but a degree of snooping is essential, especially with the 11-14 yr olds.

LittlePicnic Sun 03-Mar-13 16:53:56

Cameron's advisor on Childhood ought to know that stimulation in in the early years is very important. This was the basis of the children's centres that the previous government set up, to help children develop, during the 0-5 years. Given that this government have cut sport and the arts in school, he really ought to know better than have his team criticise parents who try hard to provide stimulating activities for children. I bet his children do lots too.

CressidaFitass Sun 03-Mar-13 17:32:14

I would definitely snoop.

There is so much horrendous stuff online - I am so glad my DCs are adult and I don't have the thought of what they might be seeing worrying me. Some of the stuff I have inadvertantly seen has haunted me for months.

Add to that some peer pressure (possibly when they are early teens and don't know any better) and they have probably seen more than we will ever.

CressidaFitass Sun 03-Mar-13 17:34:10

And I don't think that someone who has their DCs at boarding school is in a position to advise ANYONE on childcare. They should know better and just shut up. A bit like Diane Abbot - don't do what I do, do what I say.

curryeater Sun 03-Mar-13 19:12:26

Something else has just dawned on me. I went to university with a lot of students who had been to boarding / public school. Many of them had no idea how to make egg on toast, no intention of learning, and realistically, no need to at all. They went straight from catered boarding schools, where they passed lots of exams, directed Beckett plays and played rugby, to Oxbridge, where they ate in college, had their rooms done by bedders, did the same activities as school, and from there into well paid jobs, frequent eating out, and having cleaners in their early twenties. No one worried that they weren't wasting their time learning how to change the hoover bag.
(Socialising with people like this I found that many of them were very skilled in manipulating those with lower expectations of being served, to serve them - but that is another issue)

anyway - is the issue that ^too many people are learning to direct Beckett plays, and in fact the wrong people?

plantsitter Sun 03-Mar-13 19:24:39

It's not that I disagree with letting kids get on with it or parents making sure they know what's happening on the internet etc, but where is she getting her evidence? They're not very measurable things, are they?

Is the 'too many activities' stuff just an excuse to cut funding for kids' activities?

I don't think parenting (beyond corporal punishment) is really an area for government legislation. Which is lucky, because I'm not sure exactly what concrete laws she would hope to bring into place based on these statements.

Frankly parents can't win. They're always in the wrong. No matter what they do.

BlueberryHill Sun 03-Mar-13 19:57:23

Point 2 on internet safety is valid, however it would have more force if CEOP weren't not being merged into the National Crime Agency as part of cuts in policing. The Head of CEOP resigned in protest as he saw that his division, there to protect children on the internet, was being watered down.

Consistent? I think not, keep CEOP separate and focusing on what it is doing, if is working, don't meddle with it.

exoticfruits Sun 03-Mar-13 20:17:23

They are not going to go straight in to well paid jobs these days- that is a thing if the past- so they need to learn.

merrymouse Sun 03-Mar-13 20:29:56

If you take out the children who genuinely want to do loads of activities, and the children who are involved in after school activities which are actually a form of wrap around child care, are large numbers of children being over scheduled?

Who would be able to afford it?

iseenodust Sun 03-Mar-13 20:50:56

biscuit for Claire P as surely sending her kids to boarding school is the ultimate in filling every moment of your children's lives ?

LineRunner Sun 03-Mar-13 20:58:21

I would like to see Tory Claire and Call Me Dave take 3 actual real women (I'll volunteer) and give a timetable (costed) of how we should be bringing up our children.

They would be fucking toast.

curryeater Sun 03-Mar-13 21:01:54

I think you'd find they'd be biscuits, Linerunner, this is mn after all ;)

LineRunner Sun 03-Mar-13 21:06:45

Would they be Rich Tea?

LineRunner Sun 03-Mar-13 21:11:10

Claire Perry if you are reading this, shall we do a life swap for, say, just a week?

Olgathebrickshed Sun 03-Mar-13 21:31:00

I agree with Claire Perry.

iclaudius Sun 03-Mar-13 21:56:13

I don't see the argument that we 'can't do right' I do however see a generation of teens and up and coming teens who may be increasingly hard work to over stretched parents...
Claire Perry is an advisor - put there to help. She says it as she sees it not to beat us with a sharp stick .

We don't need to demonise her

LineRunner Sun 03-Mar-13 22:04:11

I see an argument that parents need to be doing lots of structured activities with their children, or for their childcarers to do so, emanating from the State and indeed being written into statute - childminders having to follow an early years curriculum, childen's centres (Sure Start) offering certain structred activities from birth, etc etc.

Structured activities are also expected to be offered in Extended School environments 8am-6pm for all children.

But Tory Claire seems to have suggested that taking advantage of such structured activities may be ... wrong?

I'd love her to come and show me the 'correct way'. On film, on camera.

I really think the missing word from her argument was play - children need time to play. But play is woefully un-appreciated and misunderstood in this country even for young children, and even by many educationalists and experts. So, shouldn't be surprised really that it gets no mention from the prime-minister's adviser on childhood.

As she stumbles around in the dark looking for the right word the best she could come up with is "they need time to be bored" hmm

feralgirl Sun 03-Mar-13 22:34:57

MNHQ, can we get Perry in for a webchat? Can we? Can we please? Can we pleeeeeeeeeaaaaassssseeee? Gowaaaan, I'll be yer best friend, I'll invite you to my birthday party and everyfink. It'd be frikkin amazing.

LineRunner Sun 03-Mar-13 22:36:32

Absolutely, Juggling.

curryeater Sun 03-Mar-13 22:37:00

Yes, Linerunner. In fact, most obviously, the childcare ratios thing is all about increasing structure to reduce adult labour (staff hours, input) in taking care of children. A lack of structure is in fact very labour intensive and much more demanding of individuals and society in very subtle ways. There is no more room for any more demands on anyone because everyone is stretched to the limit with economic imperatives - exactly the sort of imperatives that Truss wants to intensify

LineRunner Sun 03-Mar-13 22:47:54

Yes, I too would like to see a webchat on MN with Claire Perry. If she is the PM's adviser on childhood, I would like the chance to ask about her credentials and the evidence base on which she is basing her policy statements.

The social construction of childhood is not 'owned' by one policy adviser.

But some political figures can make huge contributions in areas of social policy.

If Perry wants to be one of those, she needs to have good ideas, a very deep social conscience based on witnessing real life crap and helping those involved, and an ability to debate with lots of people, in lots of ways, and not just to talk over people on Question Time.

BlueSkySunnyDay Sun 03-Mar-13 23:04:34

Is the "tons of activities" a middle class thing? We couldnt afford to do this anyway, some of DS friends have 1, if not 2 activities a night - it must be exhausting.

Facebooks, all DS1s notifications come in via me

internet - he KNOWS I check the history after a friend looked at porn - he got a stern grilling from me and I informed their parents so he wont be doing that again.

The most difficult thing is the xbox as live doesnt really seem to be set up to be "safe" it becomes very labour intensive if its set to "child" - they dont make friends with anyone they dont know in real life but pretty much all of their friends do. DS 1 was so concerned about one person one of DS2's friends had befriended that he got me to have a word with his parent.

Does this "advisor" have children? Im assuming the Nanny has been passed these instructions.

iclaudius Sun 03-Mar-13 23:11:28

juggling i do however think that the time in which to be 'bored' can also be the time in whih the childs imagination starts working overtime.

morethanpotatoprints Sun 03-Mar-13 23:13:34

I don't think theres anything wrong with lots of activities if they are chosen by the dc. Its not like many kids play out these days anyway.
Allowing them hobbies and interests is surely good for character building and they are meeting other dcs who share a common interest, from other schools and communities.

As for being safe on the internet, parents aren't stupid, they monitor their dc from an early age until they are positive they can be trusted or are mature enough not to need monitoring.

I have yet to meet a dc that has many activities and spends hours on technological gadgets and games. There aren't enough hours. Prior to 16 I never let anything electronic into bedrooms at night anyway. Homework was done downstairs so no problem.

I also don't think this advisor has kids, its not rocket science.

iclaudius Sun 03-Mar-13 23:20:26

morethanpotato -what age do you suggest they no longer need monitoring on the internet?

LineRunner Sun 03-Mar-13 23:24:00


When the child's imagination 'starts' working is called PLAY.

morethanpotatoprints Sun 03-Mar-13 23:26:11


My older 2 were 16, they weren't always aware I knew what they were doing though.
Still now at 21 and 18 I know what they are up to as one will tell me the others status on fb grin.
Personally, I had the no electronics in bedrooms because I believe it doesn't aid sleep foremost but also that so much can go wrong even at 16+ that I was glad I'd made the ruling when they were younger.

LineRunner Sun 03-Mar-13 23:31:41

iclaudius, are you the adviser's adviser?

morethanpotatoprints Sun 03-Mar-13 23:42:12


I totally agree with your point about play and imagination. Its the right of the child to have freedom to play, its right up there with right to education, shelter and food.
However, I don't think dc need to experience boredom for this. I think that they feel the need to play and do so not because they are bored but as a conscious deliberate activity.
Boredom, is surely the opposite and lacking imagination.
I did my dissertation on the changes to children's play from the 1970's, it wasn't brilliant research or anything, but I learnt a lot and really enjoyed it. smile

LineRunner Sun 03-Mar-13 23:48:26


Play is about becoming human, is it not? And then growing into roles; thus hugely important to the type of society we want our children to be socialised into making.

LineRunner Sun 03-Mar-13 23:49:10

p.s. morethan I wish I had done a dissertation like yours! smile

morethanpotatoprints Mon 04-Mar-13 00:07:36

smile LineRunner.

My degree was Leisure and Tourism and Play was just one unit. I loved the philosophy so much, I couldn't resist. Took ages to find an angle though.

I think dc still play as imo its inerrant, but the boundaries have changed and some of the freedom has gone now. Our kids are cocooned but mainly due to parental fears rather than technology or organised activities.

Yes play is about becoming human, experiencing life through play is also what adults subcontiously aspire too as well. We are never too old to play. Vertigo is the thrill that a person seeks and gets from being out of control and is apparent through fairground rollercoasters through to running round a mop making yourself dizzy. Everyone should have the freedom to play, but especially kids.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 04-Mar-13 00:20:43

Sorry forgot to add the most important thing about play. Yes Linerunner
Play, gives us our roles through recreating our play from childhood. It is recreational, uses up spare time in order to recall and recreate in future life.

Hark at me!

LineRunner Mon 04-Mar-13 00:22:07

morethan, It would be interesting if Claire Perry could give us a view on when she thinks it's ok to let children play out (what age, what circumstances) without some kind of adult monitoring.

RabidCarrot Mon 04-Mar-13 08:07:32

i agree with a lot of what she has said.
I have a 12 and 17 year old (boys) and I know where they are, who they are with and what they are doing, we have always enrolled them in clubs and I have full access to their internet and phones, DS2 has a face book account to keep in touch with friends from primary school but does not know the password and so he can only log on when I do it for him and both boys know everything they do I see,

Loving all of this talk about the value and crucial role of play in children's (and our) lives.

Yes, let's have Claire on and tell her where we see the priorities for improving children's experience of childhood !

Ha ! Just noticed Claire said (talking about IT within her comments on parenting) "Most parents are too busy, don't know the words ..."

Well, here's a handy new word for you Mrs Perry, to help you in your new role (1 month in I gather) as the prime-minister's adviser on childhood .... drum roll please ^ PLAY ...... thank-you thanks

BrendaB85 Mon 04-Mar-13 09:51:24

So wrong, it's really strange how they can be so far from the truth.


curryeater Mon 04-Mar-13 10:25:32

morethanpotatoprints, your dissertation sounds interesting, can you provide a link? (very cheeky, fully prepared to accept the answer "no")

rodandtheemu Mon 04-Mar-13 10:36:18

I tend to agree.. (waiting for the flaming!) I work with children and a lot are micro managed with after school clubs every day. I think some times there is too much going on in there little lives. Also i DO agree that very young children have acsess to the internet and it IS a dangerous place IF not controlled.
I see young children with expensive media 'toy' as that what they are to them and they are the gateway to a lot of trouble IF unsupervised.

My neice (8) shown told me about a man that was trying to add her on bbm, asking how old she was ect. (could have been perfectly innocent) but it made me uneasy, so i spkoke to her mum about it.

My daughter when she was 10 ( a good few years ago) was added by a 'girl' on facebook that was actually using her friends pictures as her 'own' god knows who it was? cue me send them a message about reporting to the police.Fast forward 5 years,I seen my daughter on pic that some one had posted of her on her facebook wall, I had sneaked on it when she wasnt looking (yes i did go there!) She was in a pub with several of her friends..'enjoying a birthday drink' it seems! Cue her getting rollocked and grounded... so yes some snooping/control must go on on as giving young children/teenagers unsupervised trust is rubbish.

Yes. I think she is right.

Compared to Norway, British children are "babied". A Lot.

But what is the alternative? In Norway you have open spaces, children playing out every where, learning to be independent, picking blueberries, making dens in the woods. Have mostly big gardens with trampolines and some such. Friends running in and out.

Ferrying children around to activities, having every day of the week taken by Violin, Stage Coach, Kumon, Tutoring, Dance, etc, I think it is a British Urban (middle class?) phenomenon.

Getting a "playdate" arranged is neigh impossible, everyone is so busy.

In Norway children mostly do ONE activity, like Football, gymnastics, riding, skiing, music, and the rest of the time is spent having leisure time with friends. Visiting in groups, going to the local football or basket ball pitch, or meet up with a group to go skiing, even at primary age.

The flip side of this independence is minimal parental involvement and guidance, bullying, teasing, getting into scrapes, whereas the parents say "well, I was not there, the kids will have to sort it out between themselves". They become incredibly street smart and "independent", but at a cost to both self confidence and ability to concentrate in school, as the "unrest" will bleed into the school environment as well. Kids who are used to do what they want, rarely react well to discipline from teachers.

While I agree with some of the point she is making, which I suspect she has seen from her very narrow group of peers, I dont think it is so harmful as she make it out.

kimorama Mon 04-Mar-13 11:22:04

No such thing as getting parenting all right or all wrong. There are diffent ways of parenting within different classes; and some variations on the norm.

kimorama Mon 04-Mar-13 11:26:02

Claire Perry is employed by Cameron to get him favourable headlines.

BlueberryHill Mon 04-Mar-13 11:29:45

I agree with all the comments on play, plus the comment made by a pp on childcare ratios, to have unstructured activites, letting children play and learn as they please takes a lot of people to allow this.

I also do not recognise the idea of children with never ending activities and wonder if it is a small section of society that Claire sees or reads about in the papers, (thinks of the various weekend papers sections). DS (6yo) does two outside activities, swimming and karate. I see both of them as getting rid of some energy, meeting friends, developing physically and giving him skills to be independent as he grows up. Arranging playdates is never a problem and in the near future I see him being able to walk to friends houses like I used to do. We live in a village and his friends are 5 / 10 mins walk away which makes a difference.

HilaryClinton Mon 04-Mar-13 11:34:43

The report I read said she didn't exempt herself from the criticism.
My perception is that:
a) Small numbers of people do overfill their childrens' lives
b) large numbers of people do live in 'digital oblivion'

iclaudius Mon 04-Mar-13 11:39:22

Line runner 'when the inagination starts working is called play' YES but you believe the same is true for electronic games??

Certainly between the hours of four and seven allowing for travel etc I seriously wonder how other parents fit stuff in ...

I am not a great fan of extra curricular stuff but my 10 year old does an hour on a Thursday and half an hour on a Monday - I know that on these days cooking and clearing up dinner tiny bit of home work bath story bed - there is very little time for much else
On weekends I gave noticed an increasing trend for activities - that coupled with the ubiquitous party ten miles away can easily eat up a day

iclaudius Mon 04-Mar-13 11:41:57

I must - and probably do - live in the small section of society to which perry refers because its rife here. I barely know a girl who doesn't dance twice a week!

PolkadotCircus Mon 04-Mar-13 11:57:06

Jeez I wondered when the perfect Nordic way if parenting would appear again.

Our kids are British kids,can we just stop with the proclaiming of all things Nordic as being the parenting ideal.

Utterly bored of it!

foxy6 Mon 04-Mar-13 11:58:27

Well that's not me I don't have the money or energy for non stop activites with 5 kids. I work full time and like to actually sit down some times that's what free time is for they do there thing I do mine. As for coping in uni isn't that what teaching them household chores and how to manage money is for.
Point 2 with e teenager keeping a track of their texts and internet isn't easy but I try they change their passwords and delete texts now knowing I check . The younger 2 are supervised on the pc and don't have phones. Despite My 9 yr old Dd trying

Polka, I dont think you read or understood my post properly.

merrymouse Mon 04-Mar-13 12:17:02

Is it clear why she made the comments in the first place? - if somebody asked her "do you approve of so called 'helicopter parenting' - is it a good idea to involve your child in as many activities as possible - are parents being led to believe that the only way their child will be able to do a forward roll is if they pay for them to go to activities like the Little Gym from the age of 2?", I think her remarks were justified, particularly as she is supposed to be advising on the commercialisation of childhood. (Although, I think most parents aren't that stupid/well off).

If the question was "what is the most important problem facing children in the UK today", then her reply would clearly have been misguided.

merrymouse Mon 04-Mar-13 12:18:15

Also, I know those days aren't coming back, but I think the golden age for students fending for themselves at uni was when they got full grants and housing benefit...

The weird thing about say The Times (front page) article I read was it appeared to make no reference to the context for the remarks at all (as far as I understood)

I agree with merrymouse that the context could make some difference ....
but she should have taken pains to ensure she gave them some context and perspective anyway otherwise she would look like an out of touch loon !

morethanpotatoprints Mon 04-Mar-13 12:24:31


No, its all in bits as my computer was really playing up at the time. I always meant to put it all together properly and should do really. If I can manage to get something together I'll send it pm, but don't expect too much. I only went to a glorified Polly, but I did get a 2.1.

If anybody is interested Plato made some good observations, and of course Piaget learning through play. Another good theorist was Huizinga, I liked him.

I don't think there's anything wrong with lots of activities if the child has time and energy for play.
Sometimes it turns out to be life changing for some.
My own dd plays 4 musical instruments and dances 3 times a week. Attends a string group and choir. She decided she wanted to give up school because the extra curricular music activities were what she wanted to do for a career. She is only 9 now and left school last year, obviously after much deliberation. I know though by now that something would have to have given, as the poor kid was nearly burnt out.

curryeater Mon 04-Mar-13 12:27:03

"Are parents being led to believe that the only way their child will be able to do a forward roll is if they pay for them to go to activities like the Little Gym from the age of 2?"

But if you PAY to send your child to The Little Gym, you are DRIVING THE ECONOMY and that is what this govt is all about.

(I congratulate myself, smugly, that my 3 year old can do everything in water that those who have been to "swimming lessons" can do - not because I taught her, but because she taught herself. No way am I paying for swimming lessons till I believe she will come out of them able to swim tens of lengths, in a stroke. But if everyone was like me, reusing everything and scrounging pennies and cutting the unchewed halves of dcs' abandoned apples into segments and serving them for lunch, then the economy would collapse. Oh right, it has, because no one can afford to do anything else)

Thumbwitch Mon 04-Mar-13 12:30:58

I think I was a bit too flippant with my first response to Point 2.
I agree that children need guidance, monitoring and reining in where internet and social media are concerned - and I will be doing it as necessary with DSs when they are old enough (currently 5 and 5m, so not an issue just yet)

I wonder if the people who allow their well-below age children to play 18+ games on XBox etc. check up on their children's internet usage? Just curious, really - no agenda with that question.

DS1 does 3 activities outside of school - football, dancing and swimming. Swimming = essential life skill, non-negotiable. Football = once a week currently, although DH wanted him to join the local U6 team, which would require training 1-2 nights a week and matches every Sat, which I think is a bit much (DH never got around to organising it so too bad). Dancing should have only been once a week but the schedule got messed up so now it's 2 nights a week. DS1 gets plenty of free play time as well and is really good at imaginative play (I like to listen to him but I'm not allowed to interrupt/ join in/ comment in any way)

morethanpotatoprints Mon 04-Mar-13 12:51:22


Yes, I think many parents are led to believe that they need to have lessons and activities from a very early age.
I don't think it is always a middle class thing, but think it is mainly considered middle class as they can afford the fees. I have also heard some parents of dc wanting to gain places at selective schools say the extra curricular activities can be a deciding factor in entrance, if there are many with the same academic scores.
I see many dc doing lots of activities and often wonder if they have any time for play, considering they may have homework as well.

AnaisB Mon 04-Mar-13 12:58:55

Rather than worry about the very small minority of youngsters whose lives are ruined by too many extra-curricular activities, Clare should focus on the much larger group whose families are unable to afford extra-curricular activities and are unlikely to attend university.

mindosa Mon 04-Mar-13 13:04:35

She is wrong in my opinion.

Children are afforded far more rights and respect than the 50's, 60's and 70's and that is right. No one wants to see corporal punishment and early school leaving back to where they were.

People hark back to the halcyon days when children could roam the streets without constant scheduling. Well guess what, lots of children in deprived areas still roam the streets day and night and we dont see them outperforming their over-scheduled middle class counterparts.

The biggest determining factor in a childs health and happiness is the circumstances of their birth. Born poor and neglected, well you are probably going to stay that way.
Born poor but loved and nurtered, well just maybe if you are very bright you might just climb out of poverty but no one will help you or your parents.

So really little changes, despite the chatter

morethanpotatoprints Mon 04-Mar-13 13:15:29

I'm sorry but I don't agree with dc born into poverty not being able to access extra curricular activities.
Some LEA's, I'm not sure if its all, offer free lessons and activities in sport, music, drama, dance etc. I know because a few low income families attending the groups my dd attends are entitled to them. Children born into poverty/low income families are encouraged to engage their dc.
It is becoming more apparent that those attending are either very poor, very rich, with not so many poorer working class.

AnaisB Mon 04-Mar-13 13:28:48

more was that at me? I didn't specify which particular lower-income band i was referring too, just that some parents couldn't afford extra-curricular activities.

IfNotNowThenWhen Mon 04-Mar-13 13:30:54

It totally depends where you live.
Until recently we lived on a large estate, and the kids there had basically the same childhood (as far as running round outside, and no activities), as I had.
Some of them have good parents, and will probably do OK in school etc, whereas others were just totally left to their own devices, and went off the rails.
It's not the scheduling or not scheduling of activities that counts for much, it's the culture you live in, and whether respect for others and education are valued in your world, or not, and also whether your parents are coping, or, for whatever reason, they are not.
Those are the things that matter to children's development.

For the record, though morethan there are NO free activities in my LEA, other than one museum. No free swimming, dance, gymnastics for those on low, and very low, incomes.

I see what PureQuintessence is saying about children in Norway being more independent etc, but I have been to Norway, and I can see that there would be a world of difference being "independent and street smart" in Norway and independent and street smart in , say, Tottenham.
The "scrapes" that a British urban kid might get themselves into would likely be a Hell of a lot more serious than in Norway, so I just don't think it's comparable.

AnaisB Mon 04-Mar-13 13:55:33


^It's not the scheduling or not scheduling of activities that counts for much, it's the culture you live in, and whether respect for others and education are valued in your world, or not, and also whether your parents are coping, or, for whatever reason, they are not.
Those are the things that matter to children's development.^

Totally agree.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 04-Mar-13 14:39:00


Yes, I was replying to you, but also in general really. I am passionate about extra curricular activities being available to all, so at every opportunity I have I mention LEA free activities. There are so many parents who are unaware it exists. grin.

That is a huge shame, but have you checked it out? I think you need to be in receipt of certain benefits such as job seekers, tax credits but not WTC and be entitled to fsm, etc.

multitaskmama Mon 04-Mar-13 14:43:44

I think there needs to be a balance. Let your child do the activities THEY want to do, not the ones YOU want them to do. Family times is also important. I would rather spend time with my children then catching up with friends when they are at home. We like to eat as a family everyday and talk at the dinner table but appreciate this is not possible for everyone. In that case you need to catch up whenever you can. There is nothing more wonderful for me than have spent time kicking a ball with my boys or taking them to the park.
It was interesting watching This Morning on Friday with Ruth and Eamonn and Eamonn wasn't too pleased about his son going to club Sat morning, Sat afternoon, Sun morning, he was yearning for family time. Ruth on the other hand was arguing that their son enjoyed it. It's a difficult one, but what's simple is that the child's happiness and well-being should come first.

CaptainSensible1 Mon 04-Mar-13 15:46:20

I think Cameron is firing up a much needed debate and good for him. Too many things are thought of as 'untouchable'.

Just because the debate has been good I wouldn't necessarily give Cameron the credit !

CaptainSensible1 Mon 04-Mar-13 15:59:10

Why not ?....its unlikely it wasn't passed to him before it went public.

I'm amazed that anyone thinks this is firing up some new debate confused. The argument that contemporary childhoods are not 'free range' is hardly new and has been the subject of public and media debate for years. Similarly children's safety on the Internet isn't exactly a new issue that Claire Perry has 'discovered' for Cameron.

It seems to be going over much the same ground as several previous debates.

Yes, I mean that talking about the value of play in children's lives is generally a discussion worth having, but it's hardly a new idea !

I like the idea that parenting is somehow seen as 'untouchable' in public debate. (Hollow laugh)

mindosa Mon 04-Mar-13 16:27:18

Local authority services are being cut and there are now very few that offer free extracurricular classes. Library services are under pressure etc.
From what I can see there are very few services and to avail of them you have to be very clued into the system.

LineRunner Mon 04-Mar-13 16:41:40

She gives that impression on Question Time (Claire Perry) that every thought she has is New and Important.

wordfactory Mon 04-Mar-13 17:16:02

Yes, there is a tiny minority of middle class DC who are over scheduled and stressed.

Is this an issue which the government needs to worry itself? No it is not.

Grinkly Mon 04-Mar-13 17:42:45

I suspect the group of parents she has spoken to ARE the upper middle classes who would raise these 2 issues.

domesticgodless Mon 04-Mar-13 18:42:29

Lazy, anecdotal nonsense designed to get the Tories' tame newspapers rattling on about parental (read maternal) inadequacy and how it is To Blame for everything. Thus ignoring the impact of consumerism, financial crisis and political and media hypocrisy to name just a few non-parental evils.

Like your analysis there dg smile

curryeater Tue 05-Mar-13 09:44:01

yep, good and succinct dg.

butterfingerz Tue 05-Mar-13 14:24:32

I saw her on question time too - very annoying woman with a very smug, annoying face... on the same show as Ken Loach who I would vote for had he chosen politics instead of film!

LineRunner Tue 05-Mar-13 14:27:28

Tbh, Ken Loach got on my tits a bit as well during that QT.

Want2bSupermum Tue 05-Mar-13 15:00:27

Why can't politicians focus on helping bring up the bottom (ie children who are without) rather than pass comment on children who have parents who are trying to do the best for their children.

I would love to see all children, regardless of their parents ability to ferry them around/pay, be able to participate in at least one organized activity such as music lessons, sport or art outside of school.

Jasmo Tue 05-Mar-13 15:53:33

My children age from 32 to 11 and todays' parents seem to spend no time with their children or allow them to learn through experience or risk taking. Children are either in their own rooms with TV/laptop or at an "activity". Both parents work far too long hours (earning money to buy laptops and TVs and 2/3 foreign holidays a year) and spend too little time with their kids. I play board games with my son and when his friends come round they love it, often never having played one! These children don't eat at a table, en famille, or walk to school with mates or read real books.We need to degadget our childrens lives and get talking to them and teach them responsibility and how to take risks.. like crossing the road, climbing trees, making dens and taking public transport, the everyday stuff that builds real life experience.
My neighbours 3 year old has a tablet and a phone and the TV is on all day on the one weekday when the child isn't in Nursery. I am appalled at what I see as benevolent and indulgent neglect. Of course he can change a TV channel but is in nappies (something all toddlers were out of 25-30 years ago by the age of 2!) and he has no formed speech. Modern children have not changed that much in the past couple of generations and technology doesn't replace chatting with Mum or Dad and learning from experience. If the Government can get people to reengage with the hard and vital job of being parents and stop them palming it off on third parties/technology.. good luck to them but I won't hold my breath!

Agree with that too Supermum - and there seem to be very few opportunities to take part in creative art workshops where we are. I wonder why that should be ? Looks like a gap in the market from what I've seen !

But completely agree that every child should have the opportunity to do something special and extra at least once a week. Brownies, Guides, and Beavers (at different stages) were good for us, but some places have a waiting list, and the timing of the groups (after school) and cost could be problems for some.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 05-Mar-13 15:55:31


I totally agree, it seems like what I thought was available to all is only offered in my area. Do any other LEA offer free lessons and activities? Surely there must be others, perhaps known as this area is for lots of unemployed, or places of lots of culture?

morethanpotatoprints Tue 05-Mar-13 17:18:40


I can see here that you are speaking from your own experiences, what you hear, see etc.
Not all parents are like you suggest though, on certain threads on Mnet it seems to be the norm, but they are hardly representative of the whole population.
I too have experienced the same and in rl have been termed abnormal for not doing the same. But I was never the conventional type anyway. grin

curryeater Tue 05-Mar-13 17:25:24

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 05-Mar-13 17:31:59


If you are not having a foreign holiday and you have time for your dc you aren't the people Jasmo was talking about. You talk to your dc don't you?
Well there are some parents who are too busy or too lazy to do this and rely on technology rather than talk to their dc.
Jasmo isn't wrong, I have come across them too. They weren't just the ones working though, some were unemployed.

wordfactory Tue 05-Mar-13 17:37:39

The trouble is it's all very well blaming parents for working too hard, but it is increasingly rare for families to survive on one wage. Not if one wishes to own a home, have children, help them through tertiary educaion and provide for retirement. Not unreasonable things!

twofingerstoGideon Tue 05-Mar-13 17:39:42

Jasmo todays' parents seem to spend no time with their children or allow them to learn through experience or risk taking. Children are either in their own rooms with TV/laptop or at an "activity". Both parents work far too long hours (earning money to buy laptops and TVs and 2/3 foreign holidays a year) and spend too little time with their kids.

As sweeping generealisations go, this one really takes the biscuit.
How do you know the intimate details of other people's lives, ie. how much time they spend in their rooms/at an activity? And do you not see how offensive your assertion that parents work long hours for the sole purpose of having gadgets and holidays is?

morethanpotatoprints Tue 05-Mar-13 17:52:19


Do you think it is like this now though because things have changed. You sound a bit older than me and I can remember when we first started out houses were a lot cheaper than now and it was a bit easier to survive on one income. It is nearly impossible now. Add this to the fact that full time jobs are not really the norm, many parents are both working part time jobs.

You are right though whether people like it or not the type you described do exist, as I said I too have seen this. Its not fair though to say this is typical of parents today as ime there are no typical parents.

Bonsoir Tue 05-Mar-13 17:53:58

"The trouble is it's all very well blaming parents for working too hard, but it is increasingly rare for families to survive on one wage. Not if one wishes to own a home, have children, help them through tertiary educaion and provide for retirement. Not unreasonable things!"

Indeed, and the cost of housing, of tertiary education and of retirement provision have gone through the roof in a generation - while tax rates have increased massively.

badguider Tue 05-Mar-13 18:03:24

I run a guide unit in a very wealthy part of our city and my girls have got very over-organised lives with LOTS of after school sport, DofE, homework, guides, etc. But the parents will tell you that the girls are happy, they want to do each activity (even beg to) and it all helps them get into a good university these days. I give them as much leeway at guides to take decisions and risks and self-organise as I can but I am not NEARLY as worried about these slightly over-stimulated 14yr old girls as I am about the 14yr old girls in other parts of the city who are in the park on a friday night drinking buckfast and getting into all kinds of risky behaviour, or those who've never had an opportunity to explore their sport, art or academic potential and see no future beyond a NMW job.

wordfactory Tue 05-Mar-13 18:09:16

That is absolutely true Bonsoir.

Our generation have much bigger outgoings than the last. And I suspect our own DC's outgoings will be worse still.

People talk as if lap tops and phones were fripperies, but can they really be described as such in this technological age. And is it such a sin to want to travel abroad? Indeed, in this global age isn't it important for our DC to experience how small a place the world is?

exoticfruits Tue 05-Mar-13 18:12:21

At the risk of needing my tin hat - I thought Jasmo had a good post - except that a lot of parents have to work just to pay bills, and not the foreign holiday. I was rather shocked on a recent thread that people wouldn't play simple board games because they didn't like them, or the DC made a fuss if they lost.

Absolutely agree badguider.

The future of these tiny number of kids with over organised lives doesn't look so bleak to me. So they work in law but play tennis and piano to a high standard. How shocking! So they work in politics but never iron and have a cleaner? Outrageous.

There are one million young people not in work, education or training. Isn't that where we're getting it wrong?

iclaudius Tue 05-Mar-13 19:03:55

Agree exotic and yes I too agreed with Jasmo

I think the 'generalisations' about children being alone in rooms with laptops are not generalisations .... Not for secondary school aged children on particular

If you have two or three kids and any sort of existence yourself - how cs. You adequately supervise an evening on the laptop . Kids aren't dim

exoticfruits Tue 05-Mar-13 19:13:19

People were upset with snakes and ladders because you had a snake near the end and children got upset. I found that sort of thing very useful for teaching them that someone has to lose!
There was a very good article in the Times the day before about toxic childhoods and how the modern world is damaging our children and yet that has been ignored- it was far stronger than anything said by Claire Perry.

wordfactory Tue 05-Mar-13 19:21:44

I hear you badguider.

Most of my DC's peers are high achieving middle class DC. Yes, some of them are a little overstretched ... but I really really would save my genuine concern for the DC who have real problems.

exoticfruits Tue 05-Mar-13 20:22:18

Sorry her last book was about toxic childhoods, the latest in the Times is:

Unhappy daughters: how we are raising a troubled generation-

I don't know why Claire Perry was picked up and this one ignored. Unfortunately far too long to copy and paste on here.

Bonsoir Tue 05-Mar-13 21:01:32

I know far more overstretched parents than overstretched DC, to be honest. Most DC just don't continue with activities they don't want to do - piano teachers, art classes, competitive sport etc are not welcoming to those who are not motivated and DC self-select out of all those things if they aren't enjoying them.

There is HUGE variance too between DCs and what they are able to take on board - I know DCs for whom school is enough and others who pack in 10 extras quite happily and still have lots of time to relax and do their own thing.

domesticgodless Tue 05-Mar-13 21:05:17

I entirely agree with a lot of the 'toxic childhood' analysis but the problem is a lot of it lives in a bit of a fantasy world where we could all go back to 1950s with stay at home mums baking all day (it's always mums isn't it, never dads).

It simply isn't going to happen. Plus I am suspicious of this 'do not let children near digital technology' thing. This is the world they live in and which a lot of them are going to work in. I respect other families who play a lot of board games and do hearty outdoor stuff but that does not work for all children (or parents).

My biggest issue with my own children at the moment is the constant constant moaning about anything that is NOT screen based and the desperate addictive urge to rush back to the screen as soon as anything else can be perceived to be over with. I never played board games or did much sport as a child, I was a book nerd. I read and read and read. My sons only read for homework and otherwise if I ban the screens and order them to do it! Which surely isn't the way it should be???

At the moment I make them do stuff that bores them eg housework because it really worries me that at the ages of 5 and 9 they see YouTube as the ultimate in enjoyment. Particularly moronic spoken commentaries on video games. I mean is this all that culture has left to interest them??? It really saddens me but I don't know how to interest them in all the things that inspire me and sometimes I wonder if I am just a snob or an old curmudgeon!

domesticgodless Tue 05-Mar-13 21:08:43

Sorry to be clearer I make them do 'boring' duties like housework because I cannot force them to do anything for pleasure, obviously. They will very rarely read voluntarily, draw, do crafts, do stuff in the garden, etc.

We did have a nice interlude with the 5 year old last week where he decided he wanted to make blutac sculptures and draw. Then it abruptly stopped and it has been back to the constant demands for YouTube.

I am genuinely thinking of burning that bloody iPad :D

domesticgodless Tue 05-Mar-13 21:14:35

Also is anyone noticing a strangely flattened, cynical affect in their pre teens? complete with 'whatevers' etc.

Mine are London kids - and children of divorce- and of course I feel I've failed them by not providing the idyllic country childhood where they could have run round a 200 foot garden with the dog and climbed trees etc. Not spent all day complaining of boredom and moaning because I hid the iPad again :D

Being single parent and working a long way away half the week, i'm not even able to have a dog.... which I know they would have loved.

I really do think it's a sad world they are growing up in but I really don't know what the solution is when so many of the issues are bigger than individual parents. We could revert to the 1950s and bring them up in ignorance but the real world is the one they will have to live in. However I am very worried about the flat consumerist monoculture of 'cool' that is being beamed at them from all angles. We can try to give them an alternative worldview but they may well dismiss it as 'old person stuff' because the lure of compulsory Cool is so much greater.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 05-Mar-13 22:12:57

I steered away from a lot of technology for all 3 dc. The older 2 had consoles though, but without internet access.
My dd has just got her first a dsi for her 9th birthday, I am really pleased that she monitors the use herself.
She does lots of activities though and enjoys playing in the park/garden with friends so not much time for other things really.
I read toxic childhood in 2007 when it first came out, I'm really glad I did.
My dd is far more able to do things for herself, find her own interests and is really not interested in playing with gadgets.

domesticgodless Wed 06-Mar-13 15:55:45

Hi morethan
Yes I really don't know where i've gone wrong w my boys. The eldest in particular has had a real leaning for screens, practically since he was born! He was a crying baby and sometimes for 10 mins relief I used to put him in front of the telly and it would all stop! The same was not true of ds2 or my niece. (Girls, anecdotally, just seem less screen obsessed in general....)

Unfortunately I'm also in a divorce situation where ex husband 'kept' all the friends and the old house and I had to move away through lack of funds etc so the boys are lonely when they are here. Since they got too old for soft play I've been at a loss as to how to stimulate them (and simultaneously annoyed that they cannot stimulate themselves at all!) so the situation is not great. I'm seriously thinking of giving up more time with them and letting them stay at their dad's more as they seem so bored here. It's a bit sad. (sorry derailed thread)

morethanpotatoprints Wed 06-Mar-13 18:01:24


You have not gone wrong at all, in fact considering your family have gone through so much if the only thing that you find a problem is the use of screen time, you have done everything right.
It is ok for people like me with supportive dh, sahm with lots of time to organise things and of course hindsight, (as I'm an older mum) to say I managed without these things. I'm pretty sure had I been in your position the results regarding the use of technological gadgets would have been the same.
Also, it was easier to resist as my older 2 are 21 and 18 and there wasn't as much available when they were little.
My ds2 was terrible though and would sit on x box until his thumbs went numb. I stopped replacing items when they broke, but he would use ds1s, then they broke and it was warfare.
So in the end everything was outdated, broken, lost etc, so I didn't replace. Father Christmas brought lots of board games and after the initial moans we played and it sort of brought us more together, we ended up chatting about all sorts of things.
I really hope my post didn't come across as smug, or judgmental in anyway.
I now H.ed my dd (9) and many people have made me aware of the educational aspects of gaming, of which I had no idea.
just a thought is your ds1 old enough for minecraft, I don't know anything about it but heard its really good.
I hope you find something that you can do to bring you all together, something to share. I'm sure there are others who have experienced what you are going through and hope they can be more help with suggestions.

iclaudius Wed 06-Mar-13 18:08:07

Domesticgodless I find your candid honesty so refreshing. I was once you and had more children and took screens away.... Not everyone's choice but my older boys sounded much like yours albeit before YouTube etc...
I find my you get boys delight in sticks - blocks and old fashioned stuff so much easier but I am open to much criticism ...

iclaudius Wed 06-Mar-13 18:08:46

Domestic you have NOT gone wrong its society today ...

iclaudius Wed 06-Mar-13 18:10:00

Exotic fruits - will look out for that article later

iclaudius Wed 06-Mar-13 18:10:19

( the times one I mean)

exoticfruits Wed 06-Mar-13 19:13:16

It would have caused far more uproar iclaudius-she puts a lot of the evils down to nurseries-far more controversial than anything Claire Perry says.

Thebrightsideoflife Fri 08-Mar-13 13:32:33

She's entitled to her opinion, as long as she doesn't try developing some policy around these two areas (surely impossible?).
I used her snooping comment as a wake up call to have a chat with my DD about who she BBMs and asked her if she would show me her phone now and again. She wasn't happy about showing me but she said I could look when I wanted (so I did - not for the squeamish) and we discussed the people she has never met that she happily converses with on BBM. She seems very alive to the fact that they might not be who they say they are but I am also more alive to the fact that she has a whole social network that I need to keep one ear to the ground for.
My kids are not involved in endless activities, and sometimes I wish they did more but I do lament the fact that some of their friends are frequently unavailable after school because they are too busy doing various clubs. It's frustrating and someone is losing out and until I read that comment in the paper, I had assumed that it was just my child, but she has made me think that maybe it's not just her.
So it's not all bad! smile

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