spiked proposals: Parents and children

The government should take politics out of family life; provide universal access to childcare; give parents a break during the school holidays; and allow teachers to teach and parents to parent.

Frank Furedi

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Topics Politics

Governments wanting to provide effective support for parents should:

  • Take politics out of family life

    Politics is being taken out of the areas in which it matters – the broad domain of social and economic life – and put into areas where politicians have no business: our personal and family life. The state effectively becomes the ‘parent-in-waiting’.

    Whatever the motives, the more government bodies intervene in child-rearing the more they undermine the authority of parents. If politicians want to do something positive to help parents, they should stop interfering in the everyday intricacies of family life, and take some practical measures that would massively improve parents’ lives.

  • Provide universal access to childcare.

    Childcare is the key problem facing parents. Childcare – in the form of nurseries, creches or childminders – is often unavailable; and when it is, it is too expensive and inflexible. A national network of childcare centres would benefit both parents and children, and would take the pressure off grandparents, for whom retirement could mean a lot more than providing childcare on the cheap.

  • Give parents a break during the school holidays.

    Provide alternative activities, such as summer camps or activity centres, to allow working parents to carry on working without having to make alternative arrangements, and to provide children with a stimulating and positive environment during the holidays.

  • Allow teachers to teach and parents to parent.

    Make sure the education system does not depend on solving its own problems – the lack of resources and facilities – by forcing parents to act as amateur teachers. We need a proper education system where teachers teach and view parents as their allies, not as quasi-colleagues.

    As far as teachers are concerned, the parents’ responsibility is to bring their children to school nourished and fit. Parents should be relieved of the added pressures to become experts in the curriculum.
  • Frank Furedi is professor of sociology at the University of Kent. His books include:

    • Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone?: Confronting Twenty-First Century Philistinism (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004)
      Buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)

  • Therapy Culture: Cultivating Vulnerability in an Uncertain Age (Routledge, 2003)
    Buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)

  • Paranoid Parenting: Why Ignoring the Experts May Be Best for Your Child (Chicago Review Press, 2002)
    Buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)

  • Culture of Fear: Risk Taking and the Morality of Low Expectation

    Buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)
  • Visit Frank Furedi’s website

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    Topics Politics

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