Advanced search

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Message withdrawn at poster's request.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?

Thisisaeuphemism Sat 02-Mar-13 10:46:01

"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?

wannabedomesticgoddess Sat 02-Mar-13 11:21:27

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.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: