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Are society's ills in the UK something to do with the fact that we 'don't like kids'?

(97 Posts)
Moomin Fri 23-Feb-07 12:16:06

Was just reading the hen night thread about leaving your kids and something Caligula said has struck a chord. It's probably a completely obvious chord to most people but was just wondering...

All thes stuff in South London with the shooting, and gang culture in most cities, and kids feeling disillusioned with life and lack of role models, etc. Is it to do with the fact that we don't, as a nation, like children very much - or that's how it seems.

We have threads full of stories about how hard it is to go shopping, go for meals, go on outings with kids; also about how other people's kids get on our tits so much; how rude schoolkids are, what a rubbish job all the teachers are doing; how much our kids dislike their contemporaries and/or feel threatened by them (I'm exaggerating slightly but you get the picture). And then we also see when we visit other countries just how much a part of everyday life it is having families and celebrating the existence of your children.

I was walking home with the pushchair the other day and I passed a car around the corner from my house that a lady was just getting into with her grown-up daughter. I couldn't tell exactly what country they came from but it might have been Greece and the older lady was waving madly to dd2. I wondered if she 'knew' dd2 through the childminder or something but then both ladies got out of their car to fuss dd2 and chat to her and I realised they didn't know her from Adam. How many British people would make this much fuss and make dd2 feel so special? It might happen sometimes but I would guess not that often.

Why don't we like kids and what can we do about it?

Muminfife Fri 23-Feb-07 17:28:51

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Piffle Fri 23-Feb-07 17:37:16

I think there is not enough for kids to do that is free, fun and accessible.
Esp at age 12+ where they can start being a little more independent
I mean ds and his friend caught a train to the local cinema, got lunch and some sweets, watched James Bond
total cost £20 FFs
who can afford that
Even swimming is £4 a head

I do feel that options for my 13 yr old ds are limited for good clean leisure fun

He spent the summer in NZ and is in love with all the things he could do
Cheap or for free

southeastastra Fri 23-Feb-07 20:46:35

this is an interesting thread, we don't want to give our freedom to our children that we had as we're so nervous now of letting them just be children to run about for hours on their own etc

but i agree we don't seem to be a child centered country

sixlostmonkeys Sat 24-Feb-07 08:42:37

I have been questioning the same subject for some years now, and it came as no surprise to me when the results came out that we are bottom of the list when it comes to our kids.
After visiting the US a few times I am staggered at the differences when it comes to dining out or just generally being out and about with a child. An example; I recall being in one restaurant in the US with my (then 6yrs old) picky-eater ds. The young waiter chap noticed that ds didn't appear to be 'totally' enjoying his meal. The chap then proceeded to have a chat with ds, find out the food he really liked, discussed a few healthy options with him and then brought him extra specially made up little meals followed by a milk shake - all free of charge!
On a flight in the US, it was late and we had been travelling all day. Ds was clearly becoming distressed by all the travelling and tiredness etc. We were in Business Class (paid by a generous friend I hasten to add!) and all the other passengers were American business men. As i tried to comfort ds I was (being british) becoming rather worried that the business men would start to complain that a child was wriggling about a lot in his seat. I was, and still am, absolutely amazed at what followed. I saw numerous business men call to the air-stewards - and then - we were inundated with gifts of pens, pencils, paper, magazines, treats, pillows, blankets....anything that these men could think of that would help ds be more comfortable. the steward made a special ice-cream sundae with sparklers and men turned in their seats to cheer and clap and smile with ds. ---- Now, if I compare this to the bus trips I've had with ds in this know the ones? when you have a small child a buggy and a bag of shopping and no one offers help and the driver pulls off sharply before you are seated and you crash to the floor of the bus.....

Ohh I'm on one now I'm sure Ill be back here soon with more.

Fillyjonk Sat 24-Feb-07 08:47:14

mif spot on!

nearlythree Sat 24-Feb-07 09:11:38

I think as parents we play the game that those who don't like kids want us to. When I was seven I had my birthday party in Simpsons on the Strand (we're not posh, my parents are East Enders but my mum got herself a good job). These days parents would look for a 'child-friendly' place such as Alton Towers or a soft play centre. We compile lists of 'child-friendly' places to eat -i.e. they serve chips and beans and your kids can run around - nothing like a real resturant or cafe so when parents do take their children somewhere normal they don't know how to behave. At the same time that we try to keep children in their ghettoes we have a culture that is shoeing them into too-early adulthood - esp. girls - with sexualised music, magazines and toys. And if children never see how adults really behave then they will think MTV and Sugar portrays the real world of being a grown-up. We also have an education system that right from the start sees children as productive citizens and anything that makes children not feel that they are acheiving will further alienate them.

But then my dad was telling me about a man in his local who tickled a girl of ten and who has been charged with sexual assault (the parents apparently demanded the pub give them their food for free afterwards ). So maybe there are quite a few people out there who are too frightened to take notice of a child in case the parent cries 'perv!'.

Muminfife Sat 24-Feb-07 09:12:00

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sixlostmonkeys Sat 24-Feb-07 09:17:06

I said I'd be back

The attitude of people towards children in the area I live - which I reckon is just like any other area in the country.

I was standing in my kitchen one day when i noticed a lady (aged about 60 ish) walking by. As she walked past my house she heard the sound of children playing in the gardens at the side of my house. Her head shot up and she glared in the general direction. The look on her face became one of pure hatred. It was a chilling sight.
There are few around her (usually the same age group) who simply cannot distinguish between vandalism/bad behaviour and 'playing'. One woman stopped to threaten my ds and his friend with the police because they were playing with little toy cars by their garden gate. Another shouted at my ds and his friend, telling them to get away...they are not allowed to play there. The area in question is the community garage area which is by the side of my back garden. I was in the garden at the time and I had been watching the two boys playing. What were they doing? - riding in circles on their bikes talking about homework!!
I walked around to see this woman and asked what the problem was. She charged at me and proceeded to rant and rave about how children are NOT allowed to play there and she will not tolerate damage done to her fence, garden etc. I explained that the area was a public right of way and that children are members of the public, therefor are allowed to play there. I then went on to try to explain to her the difference between play and vandalism. She couldn't grasp it at all. She saw children...she immediately wanted them out of her sight.
The other house to the back of me (gardens join with a large fence to separate) is occupied by an elderly lady. This woman got into the habit of shouting through the fence whenever she heard ds playing in his own garden (on his swing, slide etc) she would be so nasty with him telling him to go away, he got where he didnt want to set foot outside the door. After one such incident i sent ds to my friends house and then I went in the garden and started to potter about. She heard me pottering from the other side of the fence and she shouted "I've told you!! get away! Stop whatever you are doing and GET AWAY!!" I'll leave you to imagine the conversation I had with her...

There seems to be an attitude with some parents around here - they simply don't want their kids and their friends playing/hanging around their own house so the kids then wander around. I and others have tried over the years to get some of the spare green land turned into safe play areas for the children. the council, it has to be said, have tried, but whenever a proposal is put forward for a patch of land it always receives objections from the neighbouring houses. No one wants children near them. You'd think we were asking for the land to be turned into a nuclear waste dumping site!

So generally, children are receiving the message that they are just not wanted - it's horrible.

saffy202 Sat 24-Feb-07 09:22:48

Same thing happened up here. The council had allocated a decent amount to build a playpark on the estate, everyone said 'not beside me' so it never went ahead

Muminfife Sat 24-Feb-07 09:32:07

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Fillyjonk Sat 24-Feb-07 09:36:13

am 6monkeys at that.

am lurking here, nodding away...

Muminfife Sat 24-Feb-07 09:48:04

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SueW Sat 24-Feb-07 09:48:59

Piffle what could your DS do in NZ that he can't do over here?

In Australia the kids seemed to spend a lot of time just hanging out on the beach or playing games in the park. Obviously beach not an option if you are not in a seaside town in any country of the world but most places have parks available if not always the weather to enjoy them. However children in the UK don't seem to play games in the park, just 'hang out' wearing hoodies (to keep them warm!) and drink alcohol

A friend's daughter and her friends were attacked by two approx 15yo girls in our local park recently. The two 15yos were hanging out with a man approx 40yo and drinking wine. They attacked the girls using the empty bottle of wine and when the man tried to stop them (I wonder why he didn't want any attention bringing to the situation ) the 15yos turned on him too.

Fillyjonk Sat 24-Feb-07 09:53:57

no but i think the HEing is relevant mif (I do want to call you MIFfy but I shall desist)

I am HEing more than anything else becasue I don't want my kids shielded from real life.

DominiConnor Sat 24-Feb-07 10:08:55

I think our long work hours culture is also a factor. Politicians talk of the lack of input from absentee fathers becuase it panders to religious elements who like "families".

But the fact is that many at-home fathers work so many hours that they don't see much more of their kids than those who live somewhere else.

Working mothers don't make this better. That's probably not a popular thing to say, but it's not just the time you spend with your kids but the energy you have to do it.
Tired parents find it easier to leave the kids in front of the TV, and don't engage much with them.

Muminfife Sat 24-Feb-07 10:21:42

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nearlythree Sat 24-Feb-07 10:47:17

I don't home-ed - would like to but dh wanted to give our tiny village school a try, dd1 loves it and in truth with dd2 and baby ds I can't give dd1 the time and attention she needs. But I do make sure she has plenty of down time - I'm not into homework.

I agree with DC, I think our work culture is largely to blame, so many families see their children as an inconvenience to be fitted in around work. It doesn't help that the cost of living is now so astronomical that families need two, if not three incomes to keep going. It also accounts for why our politicians routinely ignore evidence that says that education is better started later rather than sooner - if anything they are trying to get all children into daycare at three. No political party has the balls to try and sort this out - reduce working hours, reduce house prices, raise the school starting age. Our children are spoon-fed with planned activities from such a young age that when they are suddenly expected to occupy themselves (or to learn for themselves) they can't do it.

I agree totally that childhood should be celebrated. I remember my cousin being told that her 10 yr old was 'young for her age' b/c she didn't 'fancy boys' - this was by her teacher. I want my dcs to hang onto it for as long as possible, the adult world is shit enough as it is. I got slaughtered on here recently b/c I was angry that dd1's school arranged a Valentines' disco - as it was she went and neither Valentines nor dancing got much of a mention - but this is teh innocent face of our society's obsession with getting our dcs out of that irritating child phase and into mini-adulthood.

sockmonkey Sat 24-Feb-07 10:51:29

The government wants mothers to go back to work, but I hate to offend working mum's as they have a hard enough time as it is, I really think it's down to parents to raise their children, not nurserys. The probelm is that is is so expensive to live & raise children that there is little option left but to have two working parents.
Another thing is that the media never tell us about the good things kids and teenagers do. You only hear about the "hoodies". If you only hear the bad reports you are bound to resent having youth around.

nearlythree Sat 24-Feb-07 11:05:25

I was sitting in my gp's waiting room when a middle-class, middle aged man came in with his son of about 13. Another man was talking to the receptionist and joking about the fact he'd forgotten something, and this boy said, 'Weirdo', loudly enough for me and a few others to hear - and his dad laughed along with him in an embarassed way - it was like he was too gutless to risk standing up to his own son - and this boy was not remotely intimidating.

Of course working mothers get a hard time. So do SAHMs. We are despised. The Government wants to remove the care for our children as far from our responsibility as possible and place it in the hands of their own representatives. They intend to close down any pre-school that recieves state funding that doesn't become one of ther 'childrens' centres'. Bookstart is a good scheme in some ways but I don't like having approved books and reading lists stuck under my nose. Parenting - mothering and fathering - is no longer seen as joyful, or natural. Children need 'taming', their are 'tiny tearaways', we can't get by withour supernanny and the naughty step. Far better shove them in clean nurseries with planned Ofsted-approved activities (so what if they are staffed by bored teenagers?) so their parents can go out and earn so that they can pay lots of lovely taxes.

Sad that no-one remembers the research from the War, where orphans in the nice hygenic nurseries (who were fed and clean but never hugged) got sicker than those placed with poor families who had less food and dirty houses but who cuddled and played with the little ones in their care.

Saggarmakersbottomknocker Sat 24-Feb-07 11:16:40

I'm lurking here and nodding in agreement.

Even with DC which I think is a first lol.

As a mother of teens, I have to agree that there is so much media coverage of the bad stuff and very little of the good.

SSShakeTheChi Sat 24-Feb-07 11:23:19

Looking at it from the outside being British but born overseas and having spent most of my childhood and adult life in other countries, I think British people are all too concerned about troubling/offending other people, it's not just the children.

As to child friendliness. I live in Germany. I'd rather be a dc in Denmark than Germany. Dc just belong in the south of Spain. I love the way people place their hands on the top of dc's heads when they pass them by. It's not at all obtrusive and dc feel so wanted.

Russians on the whole make a great fuss over dc if they're not unemployed alcoholics or running a children's home. Except in dire circumstances think it's nicer to be a dc in Russia than in the UK.

Surely though dc would choose Italy over any other country? Remember taking a train with dd 6 months old from Rome down the coast somewhere. A horde of soldiers got on and that was it. Didn't get dd back for over an hour. She loved it.

nearlythree Sat 24-Feb-07 11:30:19

I have fond memories of holidays in Greece when I was a child.

DominiConnor Sat 24-Feb-07 11:47:41

I agree that the government has an unhealthy obsession with getting mothers back into work.
It's what happens when arts graduates get told about superficial accountancy.
The economics make very little sense for many mothers. Biggest cost element is labour, which means that even as the economy gets richer the ratio of pay for women in low end jobs to childcare costs remains the same.
Also, it doesn't take much exposure to the childming threads on MN to see that better health & safety imposes costs, as does the bureaucracy of ensuring you comply.

Any fule wot did any development economics (the one with numbers in it, not the "all capitalists are bastards"), knows that mothers educational level is a huge determinant of the child's outcome.
We should be educating mothers during this break in their employment. That makes them more employable, and able to afford childcare as well as giving a better example to their kids.
"Education" does not include much of whatthe government provides for people in this situation. They need Excel, accounting, presentation and other work related skills, and possibly numeracy and literacy upgrades.
What the often get offered is Urdu, local history, programming in Flash, and crafts.

Fillyjonk Sat 24-Feb-07 12:07:14


am not sure about that last point, DC

more enforced education?


def make education an option for mothers. I would love someone else to pay my course fees, but I want to study a course I love, not frigging access to social care or hairdressing or whatever. I am quite happy with maths and chemistry atm.

but if it means having to leave kids in a crappola creche, having my focus taken from my kids for this one brief, costly respite I have had from work since I was 15 (and I frigging worked my way through my arts degree)-no, am not up for that.

Mothers usually stay at home becuase they believe their kids benefit from care from a parent. So studying defeats the object.

but of course, silly me, no one would be after me to improve my educational qualifications. I have a first class honours degree, law qualifications, and am halfway through another degree. Oh no, I would be safe. It would be the stupid poor people, I suppose...

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