What future for the family?
ESSAY: When it comes to parents, the Lib-Cons are as manipulative and distrustful as their predecessors.
I remember writing this essay while on maternity leave, following the birth of my first child. Since then, I’ve had eight years of living the experience described in that essay: juggling work and childcare, and worrying about the social etiquette of ‘mommy culture’. And we’ve got a different government, which made lots of criticisms of the ‘nanny state’ while in Opposition, and could have done a fair bit to make this essay outdated.
Well – sadly, the essay is not outdated; and thankfully, the personal is not political. The new government has shown itself to be as manipulative and distrustful of parents as its predecessor. In one recent example, it abolished the Contact Point database, designed to allow all state agencies to monitor every child; but then it announced plans to log visits to hospital Accident and Emergency departments as a marker of potential abuse. A review of the Lib-Con coalition government’s family policy reveals it to be based on a desire to out-do New Labour in its project of regulating family life.
But on the positive (school-run) front, I can report that the mommy wars are indeed phoney, and that the ups and downs of family life are precisely what gives it the capacity, still, to play the role of a ‘haven in a heartless world’. It turns out that parents are just people, and the kids have given me far more great friends and allies than they have foes. My personal experience of family life has not changed my analysis one bit….
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