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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!

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.

Thisisaeuphemism Sat 02-Mar-13 17:17:22

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

Thisisaeuphemism Sat 02-Mar-13 17:18:58

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

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