Cutting the experts’ apron strings

Jennie Bristow answers your questions on how to be a subversive parent and stand up to ‘supernanny’.

Jennie Bristow

Topics Politics

You’ve said that to raise children, we have to see ourselves as adults first. In an age when many adults don’t do that – remaining ‘kidults’ – does this mean they are not raising their children properly?
James, London

There is a genuine problem with the extent to which adult authority can become weakened through successive generations, and I do think we saw a bit of that in last year’s riots. Parents feel de-authorised by a culture that dictates how they should use persuasion rather than discipline to attempt to control their children, and makes them doubt every spontaneous action. In addition, the message that parents aren’t up to the job is transmitted directly to children via schools and popular culture, so this just fuels the sense of infantilisation. However, growing up and rising to the occasion aren’t rocket science; people have been doing this throughout history. So it’s a real mistake to say that society should deal with the problem of the ‘kidult’ by adapting to it, through treating parents even more like children (and thus infantilising them further). Far better to recognise the role that official intervention has played in creating this problem, and to start to cut the apron strings…

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Topics Politics


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