More on Modern Parenting

This is good from Cosmo Landesman in The Spectator, and touches on several points I’ve made on here (1, 2) regarding parenting and children:

That old, much-mocked Victorian proverb — children should be seen and not heard — has been replaced by a new dictum in child-centric Britain: children must be seen, heard, celebrated, praised and obeyed all of the time.

Once children were expected to fit themselves around the needs of grown-ups; now it’s the other way around. In progressive minded households, children are regarded as mini-adults with rights who must be consulted on all family matters.

We used to have something called adult time and adult spaces. It gave parents and kids a break to do their own things. Adults were mysterious creatures; now they’re your best mates (or want to be). We have kiddie time, all the time. There’s no social segregation.

In child-centric Britain, there is one great taboo no one dares to break so let me be the first: your child is not fascinating to other people. Sorry. Those photographs you put of them on Facebook and their cute sayings and their drawings and your discussions at dinner parties about your children’s educational attainments? Stop it. You’re boring us to death.

This is a good point too, although I think it stems more from parents’ sense of entitlement than anything:

Yes, I know that babies have always cried; but not like this generation. What makes it worse is that parents used to feel embarrassed and concerned about the distress their bawling baby inflicted upon innocent members of the public. Not now.

I did when I was a young father in the 1980s. If I was in a restaurant and my baby son was crying I would take him out of the restaurant and settle him down — and then return to my table. But times have changed. The onus is no longer on the parent to remove a crying baby — the onus is on you to get up right in the middle of your meal and find another table as far from the maddening cry of the baby as possible.

Nowadays, parenting consists in part of yelling at members of the public that a child has “every right” to do X, Y, and Z. Which is true, but pleasant society isn’t going to last long if polite social conventions are abandoned in favour of legal rights.

Alas, the conclusion is grim:

I realised then that the battle for Britain is over: babies and their kind have won.

I tend to agree, especially so given how much legislation is drawn up by semi-functioning adults for the supposed benefit of their children, with some of it even being derived from a kid’s homework.

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24 thoughts on “More on Modern Parenting

  1. “I did when I was a young father in the 1980s. If I was in a restaurant and my baby son was crying I would take him out of the restaurant and settle him down — and then return to my table. But times have changed. ”

    Not sure they have changed that much apart from certain restaurants have become much more, how should I put it, “family friendly” which I think is simply a matter of a more diverse market for restaurants than there was in the 80’s. If I’m in a Harvester with my 6 month old and they kick off I really don’t like it (and try to calm them down) but surrounded by other young families there’s less social taboo about the fact that the baby is there at all. If I’m in something a bit more upmarket the 6 month old doesn’t come and I get annoyed by other parents who bring theirs and should really know better. It’s simply a matter of manners and common courtesy.

    That said I’m in the semi-rural shires not Islington like the author of that piece. I can quite imagine some urban parents being aghast at not being allowed to take little Johnny to Jamie’s Italian (which around my way would definitely be on the posh side of restaurants). I just think that says more about the parents of Islington than the parents of the UK though.

  2. This sounds weird but about two posts in the last two days were on topics I was speaking to with my friends, with exactly the same points and examples. Have you hacked my phone or do we dream together at night?

    On a serious point, I think there has been something lost in parents ignoring their kids when around other adults. It forced children to recognise that others exist beyond themselves and made them want to be part of the adult sphere and conversation so thus behaved better, listened intently and that performative adulting rubs off and makes the children more grown up and better managers of their emotions and relations to the world.

    Perhaps its the masochist within me, but I think being told by adults that what I said or thought was stupid or ignorant when I said stupid and ignorant things made me a better thinker in the long run. The desire to stop being told I spoke nonsense or that I was an arrogant child who didnt know what life was like made me more intellectually honest and considerate.

    I continued to be a pretentious obnoxious person up until about 20/21 (although perhaps in the eyes of some I still am, but whats changed is if I gob off its something I am pretty confident I can defend due to me doing my ‘homework’) but there always existed a shred of doubt. This allowed me to change my mind and consider myself to be possibly wrong about things. Over the years I’ve changed my mind a lot and learnt many new things, a stark contrast to some of the people of my age who seemingly never changed their attitude or view of the world despite accumulating years more of experience and time to read and think.

    It will be interesting in about 20 years when the generation of children raised this way are in the ‘sweet spot’ agewise of influence and deciding things.

  3. What Cosmo Landesman – and you – are complaining about certainly exists, but I do think living where he does, Islington, and hanging around with who he does, media and metrocentric types, might give him a false picture of its prevalence.

    I think most parents in Britain still stick to the old conventions. The groups that don’t tend to be of a certain type: the underclass, the ‘intellectual’ class and older parents of, by biological default, only children.

  4. Not sure they have changed that much apart from certain restaurants have become much more, how should I put it, “family friendly”

    That’s a good point: children simply weren’t taken to restaurants until recently.

  5. Have you hacked my phone or do we dream together at night?

    The first one.

    On a serious point, I think there has been something lost in parents ignoring their kids when around other adults.

    Quite so.

    It forced children to recognise that others exist beyond themselves and made them want to be part of the adult sphere

    I mentioned this in an earlier post. In Lebanon, the kids sit separately from the adults at parties, and it’s a big thing for a boy to finally show the maturity to be invited to sit with the adults, so they strive for it.

    It will be interesting in about 20 years when the generation of children raised this way are in the ‘sweet spot’ agewise of influence and deciding things.

    I think we’re already seeing it.

  6. I do think living where he does, Islington, and hanging around with who he does, media and metrocentric types, might give him a false picture of its prevalence.

    Good point. Most of the children I meet have extremely wealthy parents.

  7. “That’s a good point: children simply weren’t taken to restaurants until recently.”

    Oh yes they did. But they did it initially at lunchtime, and they made damn sure we behaved. I remember many lunch and evening meals in restaurants from age 6 onwards, and my parents were far from wealthy. But they were good parents, so civilised their offspring before inflicting them elsewhere, unlike todays’ “parents”, lost in their iPhones and vanities.

    We Coders did the same with our codettes, until they were fit for public meals. Lord of the Flies is not fiction.

    Perhaps some restauramts should make themselves ‘sprog-free’. It’d sell. A place I frequented in Yungaburra did just that, and the fake “outrage” must have been worth megabucks in advertising.

  8. ” living where he does, Islington, and hanging around with who he does, media and metrocentric types, might give him a false picture of its prevalence.”

    This fits into my final point. The children of the Islingtonistas often replace their parents in the corridors of power and influence. Look at how many of the political classes offspring follow in their footsteps. Combine that existing politics with children raised in that way and we might be expecting a whole new world of problems. At the very least we might assume that the current political class was raised in a traditional way which might temper their forthrightness and confidence a little, but what will their kids be like with even more entitlement that they are right and they have a right to tell the rest of us what to do?

  9. Tim, how did you end up hanging around all these rich people?

    I worked through the biggest and longest oil and gas boom the world had ever seen. What, you thought we all took those jobs because daytime TV was crap? 🙂

  10. Thomas Sowell makes the urgency of the matter apparent:
    “Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late.”

  11. Somebody once asked on a social media platform what they thought of having kids. There was the usual gushing about the high levels of intelligence of offspring, how they are best friends with adults, the charm and sophistication of the little angels and of course everyone loves them.

    Apart from one sensible bloke who commented: “Family life. Meh.”

  12. I didn’t know the people doing the dirty work got to meet the rich guys. Sorry.

  13. I didn’t know the people doing the dirty work got to meet the rich guys.

    1. The guys doing the dirty work are filthy rich.
    2. Dirty work? Me? I sat around in an office putting incorrect numbers into spreadsheets. There were times when I went to site, but that was because I wanted to, not because I had to.

  14. Some truth in this but I’m sure I’m not alone in trying to bring up my kids in a way my father and grandfather would recognise, some values are timeless and time proven.

  15. Had a set to with neighbours last month. In order to distance themselves from eyes of parents, entitled kids and their friends (five) decided to decamp to my place to climb trees and generally misbehave. A tirade of expletives seems to have done the trick, and they have since been confined to their own (ten acre) garden. Hasn’t done my relationship with neighbours much good, but it’s a lot more peaceful (and the kids have expanded their vocabulary).

  16. True, children are treated like adults with their rights and entitlements, what is more gauling is the that media and establishment etc seem to treat adults as children.

  17. If you only have one job as a parent, it’s to quickly teach your child to be social. If they aren’t capable of playing nicely with others and integrating in a social situation by about five years old, you’ve failed.

  18. @Rob Harries

    Were you having these conversations with your best buddy Nim Tewman, who used to work in the oil industry?

  19. @Bill

    And understand the father role, that is effective as well. You can revisit it in their teens and tell them that why such and such a behaviour is not appropriate towards your mother. I have two sons they get a bit testy with their mum but when I intervene they pull their heads in for a bit anyway.

    I failed the parenthood test on all other accounts and quite frankly I couldn’t give a flying.

  20. @Jonathan Levy

    No different a different Nim Tewman, he worked in the renewables industry…..

    @Watcher

    Ha what a lege that last guy was. You have unearthed something interesting there, I am constantly surprised at how much people on social media claim existence is some rip roaring and life affirming experience. It doesnt remotely compute with me or anyone I know. Its worth being alive, but its a bit crap overall, 6/10.

    I generally dont believe people at face value anymore on such things, I think the last guy probably had a family out of a sense of duty, which while not as wholesome as being punch drunk in love with your kids, is an attitude that wont fail in doing what you have to do to make sure your family survive and such. Though I suppose people out of love do go to the wall for their families, but it might be a motivating factor that tends towards sub-optimum outcomes perhaps? We all know how much damage overbearing love can have on a child growing into an adult.

    Love is hugely overrated in the world, the people who struggle through against great challenges tend to be grinders who put value on things like duty or concepts that are higher than themselves rather than our fairweather friend called love.

  21. @ Robert Harries

    I think life in that wonderful world so joyfully inhabited by our betters is like the TV ad where the whole family grins like maniacs because they are having fish fingers for tea.

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