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Well, tough.

(28 Posts)
purepurple Sun 08-Nov-09 08:06:05

A report that makes sense to me.
Parenting style is more influential than income.
Tough love is the way to go!
I do a lot of tough love, how about you?

ssd Sun 08-Nov-09 08:10:14

its like anything else, my "tough love" will be entirely different to yours

we all interpret these studies in our own way

ChairmumMiaow Sun 08-Nov-09 08:28:49

They weren't very descriptive about just what 'tough love' is. A mixture of affection and discipline covers an awful lot of parenting styles!

LeonieBurningHeapy Sun 08-Nov-09 09:10:12

Message withdrawn

cory Sun 08-Nov-09 09:48:58

How do you measure whether a 5yo has developed appropriate character capabilities? hmm

Isn't that the same as saying that noone is allowed to be different, noone is allowed to be shy, noone is allowed to be a loner?

Problem with the terminology is, it encourages people to put the emphasis on "tough", where I think the emphasis should be firmly on "love".

edam Sun 08-Nov-09 09:54:25

I think the report authors are making rather grand claims here. They are attempting to measure things that I doubt can be clearly defined and applied to human beings, especially the relationship between parent and child.

And I'm willing to bet that their definition of 'good parenting' is based on middle class families. Just as IQ tests were traditionally based on certain qualities defined as intelligence that made White people look cleverer than Black.

You can't attempt to measure families in the same way you would measure a factory's output of widgets.

edam Sun 08-Nov-09 09:57:19

Although their recommendation about the Family Nurse Partnership is positive - it certainly seems to be A Good Thing to give intensive and continuing support to parents who may struggle although it is far too soon to prove the programme works in this country.

stuffitllllama Sun 08-Nov-09 10:07:43

Edam, they talk about application, self-regulation and empathy. I would say they are not a middle class measure. Generally considered a "good thing" across class and race.

Also I would agree with the view that these are "a vital contribution to life chances" which most of us would equate with being happy, independent and productive (not just financially), and ending up doing a job you enjoy and being with people you like.

I can't see that the study invalidates itself at all. It has chosen the criteria but what other criteria would you use?

They don't actually talk about "good" parenting, more different types of parenting. But they do assume that the results of "empathy, self-regulation and application" are good ones.

They have found that a certain type of parenting achieves this. I don't see how the study is invalidated by "self-selection" (right term? no idea)

purepurple Sun 08-Nov-09 10:16:41

I found the report interesting reading as i work in early years and I can see how having this sort of approach really does help children to achieve "empathy, self-regulation and application".
I do feel that the earlier children are taught these skills the better.

thedollyridesout Sun 08-Nov-09 10:17:06

Same story reported:
In the telegraph and In the Times

Will come back later with some comments.

cory Sun 08-Nov-09 10:34:40

stuffitllllama Sun 08-Nov-09 10:07:43
"Edam, they talk about application, self-regulation and empathy."

Yes, but how do they measure self-regulation and empathy? This is where I would suspect that middle class bias would come into play. There are many ways of expressing empathy. Don't you think researchers would be more likely to notice the way that is traditional in his background?

I have had reasons to ponder this as I have been moving for the last 13 years or so between two very different class settings: at work, I rub shoulders with academics, at home and at baby group/school most of the people I meet could probably be described as working class with a smattering of lower middle class. Both sets are very nice people- we really don't have a lot of behavioural problems. But they speak differently, they behave differently and they have totally different ways of expressing empathy. What is considered manners in one setting, might be considered off-hand in the other.

So a study of this kind will only be as good as the openness of the people who conduct it.

cory Sun 08-Nov-09 10:37:21

sorry, should have been: a researcher

stuffitllllama Sun 08-Nov-09 11:03:19

Ooh very interesting: but you are making an assumption as I have. I would assume they would have tried to obliterate these confounding factors, you would assume they don't.

In fact I think we both assume the researchers are middle class. You assume they might not even recognise the issue: I assume they would recognise and deal with it.

But v good point. What about application and self regulation? Are these expressed differently?

cory Sun 08-Nov-09 11:10:30

The thing is, I I(as a researching academic) will not believe any study, until I have learnt exactly what the criteria are, how they are measured, and how any potential pitfalls are dealt with. After 20 years at the job, it has been my misfortune to read some extremely poor academic studies, as well as some brilliant ones, and a fair few of the more plodding kind. So I would never buy anything unseen. And I won't know about application or self-regulation either, until the researchers have told me exactly how they are measured.

The assumption that the researchers are middle class in outlook is probably a fair one. Regardless of family origins, you don't get to have your research projects financed until you have spent a certain amount of years in the groves of academe, and that usually has an influence on people's perceptions.

stuffitllllama Sun 08-Nov-09 11:52:44

I think that's a good attitude Cory. Usually these things are written off press release without any reference to the original study so, yes, right to be sceptical and look at assumptions.

thedollyridesout Sun 08-Nov-09 12:45:46

Why not go the whole hog and consider the political agenda for such studies in the first place. There really isn't time to be so cynical about all of these studies. Very little research is entirely water-tight I'm sure.

Any quantitative study that talks about 2-3 times as opposed to 20-30 times is not saying that much IMVHO. However, if the factor of 2-3 times is repeated time and time again when other 'factors' are introduced then maybe there is something there. This appears to be such a study. To assume that the measuring is flawed from the outset seems a strange way to look at it.

cherryblossoms Sun 08-Nov-09 14:40:41

Hmmm. I'd like to have a little more background on this one, too. Especially since the "business end" of all this seems to be buried in the final section with the recommendation about teaching parenting techniques to low-income families ....

Re. edam's point about middle-class parenting techniques ...

Well, nobody, I'm sure, will ever do it, but surely there is a place for arguing that the kind of parenting done by the "low income families" (and I reckon that is a euphemism for "poor people whose children make a problem for nice people") actually poduces behaviours that are, 9/10 times, extremely useful for the environment in which they will, most likely, have to survive?

I'm not going to put that argument forwards myself, because I, frankly, view it all as rather damaging. But then, I'm a product of my environment. But, you know, it's one perspective and would indeed offer a balance to what I suspect is, indeed, a middle-class bias, and a deeply ingrained one at that, in the researchers.

Yes, I would love to know what they list as "good" personality/behaviour patterns and "damaging" ones.

thedollyridesout Sun 08-Nov-09 16:10:57

A middle class bias is one thing, insinuating that the 'poor' have a dog eat dog existence/mentality is another.

cherryblossoms Sun 08-Nov-09 16:30:13

Is that me doing the insinuating?

Sorry. No, i thought "low income", in the article, was being used euphemistically. The article is the place where those on a low income are being targetted as being in need of "help" with a "better" parenting model.

I just wanted to highlight some of the problematic assumptions in that, albeit short, article.

No, low income does not = dog eat dog.

But I think that article is v. confused. There is, firstly, the obvious point that income does not determine either parenting styles OR behaviour/personality.

There is then the weird thing about it being used to suggest the increase of ... parenting classes for low-income parents.

So ... there is, clearly, quite a large bundle of stuff being said.

I homed in on one thing, only, the idea that, actually, what they have in mind is the behaviour of the "unruly poor" ie. they have a problem with a certain, "difficult" section of those on a low income (note, the article says "low-income" - why?) whose behaviour they take issue with.

And it just is sooo problematic. I really do wonder, what behaviour do they want? Why?

I really would like to know exactly what behaviours are being labelled as problematic. And I read it with suspicion. Problematic for whom? And aren't many behaviours actually expressive? And constructed relationally? so that there will be a certain element of "chosenness" in behaviour, which is meant to express class/social identity, relationally, in opposition to other forms of behaviour?

I think I'd like to see the whole report, rather than just a press release. I'm sure it's all reasoned a little more thoroughlly there.

purepurple Sun 08-Nov-09 16:41:19

Looks like the ful report is due out tomorrow.

cherryblossoms Sun 08-Nov-09 16:54:53

Single-parents and low-income oarents: You thought that it was the massive inequalities in wealth distribution and the attendant social effects of this that were limiting your childrens' chances?


It's their behaviour. And that's down to your (crap) parenting.

Today's workforce requires the model worker to be co-operative, able to show initiative and be flexible.

These are things that middle-class people do best!

You thought that their employment prospects were being limited by their access to good-quality education and transport, which (some might say, bizarrely) is often linked in a very concrete way to income, safely out of reach of the gulags of poverty that our first-world country has erected for those on a low-income (though they live there by "choice - you're free to move - if you can afford it, ho ho.).

You're wrong. It's your chilrens' behaviour - it's just not "nice" enough. If you want a middle class job - you have to act in a way the nice people giving out those jobs recognise as nice.

You've been told. No more bleating about social inequality, you lot.

cherryblossoms Sun 08-Nov-09 17:06:54


That apostrophe s is one of the things that limits life-chances too. And access to that is limited in our unequal society.

edam Sun 08-Nov-09 17:26:16

<applauds> cherry.

Side-issue, but if I can defend journalists for a mo re. Stuffit's post, I'm confident the BBC and Times stories are based on reading the study itself, as well as interviewing various interested parties.

It's not clear from the articles whether the Demos report contains any original research - they refer to an analysis of lots of studies going back to the 1950s. Not sure how relevant anything that old will be, tbh, given the massive social change since then.

Meta-analysis is really hard as you have to find a way of adjusting for the different design of each individual study. It's entirely possible that you will magnify any flaws. It's hard enough in medicine, much harder I would have thought in social research when you are dealing with things that you can't really measure, such as behaviour.

stuffitllllama Sun 08-Nov-09 18:45:48

that is so simplistic cherry!

cherryblossoms Sun 08-Nov-09 19:01:51


But only goes to highlight how tricky all this stuff is, and how it exceeds a press release.

But, you know, to take "empathy", for example. I see in an earlier post you highlight "empathy" as a skill/behaviour that is "good", with an inference that it is an "absolute" and not "relative" good. Is it? I'm quite sure that empathy is not always a useful skill. It's also one of those things that people discuss as coming into its own in our current modern age; which implies it has not always been regarded as necessarily that great. It really is all a bit relative.

And who is it who has to do lots of empathising, and why?

In defense of Demos, I suspect they are making a case for the continuation of Surestart, so I am prepared to cut them some slack on that one.

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