Pink or brown?

I’ve written before about the battle lines being drawn between LGBT campaigners who want laws granting them access to primary school children, and Muslim parents who don’t want their children learning this stuff (at any age). A reader sends me the link to this story, which suggests the front has widened somewhat:

Four more schools in Birmingham have stopped teaching about LGBT rights following complaints by parents.

Leigh Trust said it was suspending the No Outsiders programme until an agreement with parents was reached.

Earlier this month the city’s Parkfield Community School suspended the lessons after protests were held.

Campaigner Amir Ahmed said some Muslims felt “victimised” but an LGBT group leader said No Outsiders helped pupils understand it is OK to be different.

The LGBT campaigners claim all they’re doing is explaining to children that some boys and girls are different and they should not feel bad if they are one of them. I’d believe it were this innocent if the modern LGBT movement didn’t have a history of intolerance, compulsion, and threatening anyone who didn’t actively celebrate their way of life. Following the Twitter threads on this, even parents who meekly suggest maybe primary school children are a little bit young to be taught about homosexuality are denounced as homophobes. When some opine that perhaps this is best left to the parents, the response is that intolerant, bigoted people should not be permitted to deny their children the opportunity to hear correct, state-approved views. In its current form this is not about helping children but ensuring fanatical views are imposed on every child in the land, backed by the full weight of the government. Genuine conservatives should be denouncing this, but we don’t have many of them any more and those that are left have been cowed into silence. However, the Muslim community has no qualms about opposing these schemes as incompatible with their conservative values, because they’re playing the same game as the LGBT campaigners only better.

What we’ve got here is one bunch of intolerant campaigners with state-approved victim status going up against another bunch of intolerant campaigners with state-approved victim status. Given how ludicrously incompatible these various victim classes are this was inevitable, and given how obviously the victim hierarchy is arranged there is only going to be one winner. I have some sympathy with the moderate LGBT campaigners, but if their spokesman are going to smear every conservative parent as a bigot for not wanting political campaigners access to their young children, I’m happy to sit back and let them get a harsh lesson in what happens when you abandon principles in favour of identity politics.

For my part, I’ve always thought sex education should begin at the start of secondary school when children start to hit puberty in large numbers, and it should focus more on heterosexuality than homosexuality (but both get covered). If that makes me an intolerant bigot so be it, but don’t expect me to leap to your defence when some real prejudice comes knocking. As I’ve asked before, who will you run to? I’d like to think the majority of British parents as well as British gays are sensible about this, but they’re unable to make themselves heard. As usual, the fanatics are drowning out everyone else.


Strangers on a Plane

A few days ago a friend posted a story on Facebook regarding an EasyJet flight she took with her husband and two boys, aged four and two. She boarded the flight to find there weren’t any seats left close together, meaning her eldest boy had to sit beside a stranger. She asked people if they would mind moving so she could sit with her children but nobody was willing, and the aircrew weren’t interested. It took about an hour for her Facebook feed to go full Mumsnet, with women suggesting she should have told her child to cough all over the innocent passenger he’s sat beside, or cite safety concerns to the air crew who, apparently, would be forced to swap people around.

So I’ll start by saying I know the family well and they’re lovely, with no sense of entitlement. The mother posted the story just because she was disappointed nobody was willing to move. As it turned out, her boy did just fine on his own (last time I saw him he was about one and he rammed me with his sit-on tractor, so I think he can take care of himself). I’ll also say that the obvious solution is to not fly EasyJet if you want your family to sit together, and instead book with an airline which lets you reserve seats in advance. But it’s a situation worth looking at in more detail.

If it were me, I would have moved. Normally I pay for extra legroom at the emergency exit or the bulkhead, and I wouldn’t move to an ordinary seat in those circumstances, but if I’m in a regular seat and travelling alone and someone politely asks me to move, I always do. I’ve moved seats so kids can sit with their parents, or couples can sit together. I’ve lived in functional societies, and I’ve lived in dysfunctional societies. I believe the difference between the two is a culture in which people make dozens of small sacrifices on a daily basis which act as a lubricant for the society as a whole to get along. So you stand aside for people pushing prams, you let people out into traffic, you conduct yourself in a way which minimises the aggregate level of inconvenience and difficulty for everyone involved in a given situation. Annecy works a lot like this. For example, everyone stops at zebra crossings, and those crossing always give a little wave to the driver. People also hold doors open for one another and stand aside if someone is carrying something heavy. By contrast, drivers in Lagos will move two metres forward and block an entire highway because it means they have gained two metres. The fact a hundred cars are now blocked in because of their actions doesn’t matter one whit: the important thing is they have advanced two metres, and to hell with everyone else. This is why Lagos is the most dysfunctional place I’ve ever been to.

Britain is slowly but surely shifting from a society where people cooperated to ease things along to one where it’s every man and woman for themselves. Unfortunately, none embody the spirit of “f*ck you, I’ll do what I want” more than young mothers after a late-night session on Mumsnet. There was a time when parents didn’t take young children into restaurants because the inevitable screaming and toddler behaviour would disturb the other patrons. Now it’s “tough sh*t, I have as much right to be here as you”. There was also a time when, if a child was causing a disturbance, the mother would feel deeply embarrassed and get her kid out of there pronto. Now her approach is “so what, he’s a child, he can’t help it” or, worse, she does nothing at all. Breastfeeding in public is another interesting subject in this regard. I have no problem with it, and I’ve sat with a friend who breastfed her boy under a blanket and it didn’t bother me at all. But some people don’t like it, and rather than seeking a compromise or avoiding conflict the position of mothers has been “I have right to breastfeed in public, it’s your problem, not mine”.

The trouble with a society where people loudly declare they have a right to do X, Y, and Z and everyone else will just have to lump it, is the give-and-take compromises which act as the lubricant to make everyone’s lives a little more pleasant dries up. Eventually people will think if you have the right to do X, then I have the right to do Y. Or, to come back to the EasyJet flight, I have a right to stay in my seat. There’s also the related issue, which I’ve written about before, of parents thinking the whole world must changed for the benefit of their brats. If you see a highly illiberal policy idea being shared on Facebook, you can be sure it has the strong backing of over-entitled middle class mothers who want everyone’s freedoms severely curtailed “for the sake of the children.” By which they mean their children. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s getting a little sick of this, and it’s not going to help matters when a mother needs too ask a favour of a stranger.

A lot of the responses to my friend’s original Facebook post complained how selfish the other passengers were, or how they despair of modern society. But this didn’t happen overnight, and I suspect one or two of them have helped bring this situation about more than they realise.


Learning to Share

Via Tim Worstall, this article in which the following complaint is made by a Wetherspoons barmaid:

When you earn less than £9 an hour, it’s impossible to afford a place of your own in Brighton, where I live. How can people like me live our best lives if we’re splitting bills with five flatmates and arguing over the shared bathroom?

When I was a student, it was absolutely normal to share a house with other people if you weren’t living in halls. The idea someone could afford to live on their own was literally unheard of, even among the poshos who came from money. In fact, at that age you don’t want to live on your own because it’s boring.

Similarly, it was normal for young professionals to share a house with one or two other people in a similar situation, which was a big step up from a shared student house. The place was usually nicer, people had to get up in the morning so didn’t play music until 3am, and a fire in the kitchen was no longer a laugh. People shared mainly because they couldn’t afford to rent on their own but also, again, it’s a bit boring living on your own at that age. I knew nobody who lived on their own when they took their first job, and bear in mind I’m talking about graduate engineers here. I was the exception when I briefly rented a place on my own in Liverpool which turned out to be a complete dump, so I high-tailed it back to my girlfriend’s house in Manchester which she shared with four other girls (there was one bathroom). If I remember correctly, my oldest brother shared a house in Slough when he was attempting to qualify as an accountant, and my other brother shared with his mate from back home for a few years. For people of my generation, they only started thinking of living on their own between 25-30 years of age when they either bought their first place or got into a serious relationship and they didn’t want their Friday night smooching on the sofa ruined by a housemate sitting on the armchair with his hands down his tracksuit bottoms. Quite a few people I know only stopped housesharing with friends when they moved in with a serious partner.

But in 2018 we have a barmaid who is almost certainly under 25 believing she is entitled to live on her own because, well, she wants to. Leaving aside the obvious suggestion that sharing is bad for her because she makes a rotten housemate, there is probably something deeper to all this, which I may have got a whiff of way back in 1996. The halls I stayed in during my first year at Manchester (Owens Park, as it happens; weirdos were put in Allen Hall) were fully catered, and it quickly became clear how each student had lived before starting university. I came from a boarding school and found the food to be two orders of magnitude improved from what I was used to: it was hot, there was a choice, it was actually cooked (instead of steam-heated) and there was plenty of it. Nobody who’d been to boarding school had a problem with the food at Owens Park, nor did most of the blokes. But there were a few people, mostly girls but boys as well, who weren’t used to eating collectively, even as a family. Having watched the behaviour of contemporary children, I can imagine these individuals whining and complaining they didn’t like this, that, and the other to the point they had their mother prepare their own special meal on demand for much of their childhoood. Little wonder they didn’t like canteen food when they turned up at Owens Park; I suspect the reason they didn’t go self-catered is because they didn’t know a saucepan from a rolling pin.

What this suggests to me is the university intake in 1996 came from families more wealthy than previous generations. I can’t believe too many people of my father’s generation would turn their nose up at Owens Park food, nor of anyone born much before 1975. Families would have eaten together, the menu would have been what the budget allowed for, and there would have been no choice. Mothers simply didn’t have the option to let their precious little snowflake push beef around the plate while scowling before caving in to demands for chicken nuggets and ice cream.

Similarly, most children of earlier generations would have been used to sharing a bedroom and living in a crowded house without much furniture or other comforts. I was lucky in that I had my own room for most of my teens, but the reason we had a big house was because it was plonked in the middle of a mass of fields in the extreme corner of west Wales. For many young men and women, the transition from a crowded terraced house full of kids and a tiny toilet to a shared student house would have been a big step up in terms of living conditions. Contributing to the housework would have been normal for these people since the age of 10 (not me, I was bone idle), and sharing bathrooms as normal as going to bed at night in the same room as one or two younger siblings.

However, those who are born between 1990 and 2000, as is probably the case with the Wetherspoons barmaid, have mostly grown up in what previous generations would have thought relative luxury. Almost all will have had their own bedroom, some their own bathroom, and the house will have been warm, comfortable, quiet, full of food, and with the Sky package on the 42″ TV paid for by someone else. Going from this to a shared house where slugs parade through the kitchen each night, the bathroom sink is permanently blocked, and everyone must pay for the heating is going to be a step down, without question. But moreover, anyone who’s grown up in a big house with one or two children is going to be less accustomed to communal living than someone who had three or four siblings and lived in a terrace. Add to that the sense of entitlement of a medieval lord and an overall unpleasant character, and it’s hardly surprising that some people can’t handle sharing a house. It’s another example of how a rather large number of today’s young adults seem utterly ill-equipped to deal with the world as it is. I blame state education and the parents.


Driven to suicide by bullies, or his mother?

There’s something missing from this story:

A nine-year-old boy has killed himself after enduring four days of homophobic bullying at school in Denver, Colorado, his mother says.

Leia Pierce told KDVR-TV that her son, Jamel Myles, revealed to her over the summer that he was gay.

She said Jamel wanted to go to school and tell his classmates because he was “proud” to be gay.

I’ve spent a good portion of this summer staying with families, and the thing that always amuses me about children under ten is how hopelessly, wonderfully innocent they are. They really have no concept of adult life and its vices, and that includes sex and sexuality. Now children can feel attractions of one sort of another, and homosexuals when they reach adulthood say they always knew they felt “different”, but they don’t have the faintest understanding why. This is why sex crimes against children are so abhorrent, they are incapable of understanding what is being done to them. The only way a child of nine can possibly be “proud” to be gay is if his parents, or others around him, have exposed him to sex or drummed sexuality into him long before he’s capable of grasping the concept.

She said that when he had told her he was gay, he looked “so scared”, but she reassured him she still loved him.

If your nine year old son is telling you he’s gay, you should perhaps ask yourself what environment he’s grown up in. Now there is no mention of a father here; what’s the betting this woman raised her children in an ultra-woke environment where they were exposed to swathes of adult sexuality and encouraged to indirectly participate, i.e. talking about it, seeing naked adults, or declaring pride in one’s supposed orientation? It certainly wouldn’t be the first time a single mother has forced her son to adopt feminine traits at an age where he cannot possibly understand, let alone object.

“My son told my oldest daughter the kids at school told him to kill himself,” Ms Pierce said.

“I’m just sad he didn’t come to me. I’m so upset that he thought that was his option.”

It sounds as though the child had serious mental problems, probably as a result of his upbringing. What does the mother have to say about that, I wonder?

But there’s another issue here. Supposing it’s true that this child went to school boasting he’s gay and the other kids bullied him so much he committed suicide. What are we going to do about it? That young children can be notoriously cruel is hardly new; most of us read Lord of the Flies at school. Either schools attempt the impossible task of getting under tens to not bully the odd kid, or they start locking up nine year olds for homophobic bullying (or at least sending them home, and perhaps jailing their parents).

There is another option, of course: stop sexualising children so much they are proudly gay at age nine and bragging about it in the school yard. If we let children be children instead of extensions of their parents’ deep insecurities and unwilling participants in their political activism, this wouldn’t be a problem. However, I don’t hold out much hope. The way we’re heading under our current rulers, paedophilia will soon be celebrated (unless the perpetrator is Catholic) and normal parents locked up if their child so much as teases someone in an unapproved manner.


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.


An Autopsy of a Relationship

Once again Natalia Antonova provides a thread on her marriage which is worth looking at more closely. Key points:

There are two ways to look at this. Either this person was, as Antonova claims, a religious nut who is somehow benefiting personally from this intervention; or she is disappointed that she left her husband and is concerned for the future of her child. Before I go any further, here’s how the kid is getting on with his now-single mother:

No cause for concern there obviously, especially anything which could be linked to a lack of father in his life.

Now it’s never nice to have someone poke their beak into your personal affairs, especially over emotional issues such as relationship breakdowns, but on the other hand it can be extremely useful to have someone tell you what you might not want to hear. I am fortunate enough to have always had close friends who have no qualms about telling me what I don’t want to hear, although happily they rarely have to these days. However, one thing I’ve noticed about many women is they don’t take blunt honesty well, and in my experience they choose their friends based on their co-opting the narrative of the woman in question; anyone who queries it is cast into the wilderness forever. This is especially the case following the breakdown of a friendship or romantic relationship.

So someone who witnessed the breakdown of Antonova’s relationship expresses disappointment in her actions and suggests she may be doing the wrong thing. At this  point I’m left with a choice between this person being a psychopath who wants to see Antonova abused some more, or Antonova’s situation being less extreme than she’s making out. Which is more likely, do you think? And is “very skillfully shamed me” simply another way of saying “she told some uncomfortable home truths”? At the very least, unless this woman is a complete nutter (who Antonova was happy to have in her life before the breakup), one would think this would give her pause for thought. But no: the modern feminist way is to adhere to the narrative at all costs, amplifying it in public while purging all dissenters from their lives.

Now when a couple split up there is always fault on both sides. It might be heavily stacked on one or the other, but there is always some on each side. Always. I know a fair few single mothers, and when I speak to them about their separations they are generally quite even-handed about it. Much of the time they say there were compatibility issues, and while they always say their ex-husbands had faults they never deny the situation was “complicated”, and took some time to develop. Even those who have reason to be angry and bitter remain reasonably objective, preferring to concentrate on their futures and those of their children than dwell on the past. On the other hand, I’ve met divorced women who even years later described their ex-husband as a monster who made her life a living hell, and you wonder how on earth they entered into a relationship with such a person if even half of what they’re saying is true. For example:

On one occasion I happened to get an ex-husband’s side of the story and unsurprisingly it was rather different. Now I couldn’t be sure who was telling the truth, but if you have one person saying they’re completely innocent and the other saying there was fault on both sides, who do you believe? However, any suggestion that perhaps there was fault on both sides, or there are several perspectives on the situation, was met with howls of outrage that I was blaming them or saying they deserved what happened. Again, any dissent cannot be tolerated by women whose entire life depends on the narrative being upheld.

Yes, there’s no room for self-reflection or listening to third-party views on what went down: the important thing is to surround yourself with people who tell you what you want to hear. If the goal is to ensure you’ll never enjoy a lasting relationship in future, this is a good approach.

The only thing which will survive such “solidarity” is whatever delusions these women are labouring under. As advice goes, it’s pretty self-serving.


The Results of Modern Parenting

Well this is a surprise:

Children whose parents are over-controlling “helicopter parents” when they are toddlers, are less able to control their emotions and impulses as they get older apparently leading to more problems with school, new research suggests.

The study looked at to what degree mothers of toddlers dominated playtime and showed their child what to do, and then studied how their children behaved over the following eight years, revealing that controlling parenting is linked to a number of problems as a child grows up.

Something which always amuses me about many modern parents is their casual dismissal of two thousand years of experience by their forebears. Parents having time to play with their children, let alone micromanage the activities, is something very, very new. I’ve asked around and few people my age (41) had their parents play with them when they were toddlers, and absolutely none of my father’s generation did. Children were expected to play with their siblings, with other children, or by themselves – as quietly as possible. Parents would read to their kids, or help them with a particular task (“ask a grown-up to help you” often appeared in the instructions in children’s play-sets), but they were never seen as a play partner. The reason for this was parents were too busy and it wasn’t really their job. Now it appears some mothers not only want to join in their childrens’ playtime, they want to take it over. Unsurprisingly, this is having an effect on their development.

“Parents who are over-controlling are most often very well-intentioned and are trying to support and be there for their children,” said Dr Nicole Perry of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, who co-authored the research.

“However, to foster emotional and behavioural skills parents should allow children to experience a range of emotions and give them space to practice and try managing these emotions independently and then guide and assist children when [or] if the task becomes too great.”

If the role of a parent is to raise a child to become a functional adult, they ought to be able to stand by and watch their offspring struggle and overcome small problems. But I suspect many mothers are more interested in the “unconditional love” they keep telling me about, and hence can’t bear to see their child undergoing any sort of difficulty. I’ve said this before, but I think some may have been better off getting a dog.

“The problem here really is that if you don’t learn skills to self-regulate, how can you self-regulate when you leave the home, like [when] you go to school or you go to university? In a way it is a form of abusiveness – taking this opportunity away from children,” he said, although he noted over-controlling parenting was usually done with the best of intentions.

But Dr Janet Goodall from the University of Bath urged caution, noting that it is difficult to say how much parental control is “too much”, and that cultural factors such how dangerous a child’s environment is should be considered when looking at parental behaviour.

What’s interesting about this is it echoes with what I was on about in yesterday’s post. Modern parenting seems to be an odd mix of over-controlling combined with ultra-permissiveness. Several mothers I’ve observed try to micromanage every aspect of a child’s life and environment, sometimes demanding the entire world be changed for the benefit of her brat, yet at the same time let him or her dominate the household. Mothers will campaign for diesel cars to be banned in cities “for the sake of the children” yet allow her toddler to dictate when he is eating, what he is eating, and where he’ll be sat while doing so. There are few households now where young children are forbidden from interrupting adults when they’re talking; most are permitted to barge in for the most trivial reasons and the mother will give them their full attention for as long as required. As a side observation, I’ve found French children are a lot better behaved in the home and in restaurants than their British counterparts; for all their reputation of being liberals, the French are a conservative lot.

For whatever reason, the study mentioned above only looked at the degree of parental control not permissiveness, and I think they may be missing a large piece of the puzzle. By way of example, have a look at this tweet, which to be fair is quite funny:

You can be damned sure it was the kid’s mother who caved in and ordered her husband to drive around town looking for ice cream. Now I’m going to go out on a limb here and speculate that perhaps this sort of parenting is not going to produce a generation of adults able to deal with the world at large. Here’s a question for my readers: how many of you would have got away with that at three years old, or any age? More importantly, how many of your children would today?


Fathers given choice, choose wrongly

A jobless mate stay-at-home dad directs me towards this article:

The minimal take-up of shared parental leave in the UK, estimated, in the absence of reliable statistics, at about 2% of 285,000 eligible couples annually, has happened because the policy is wrong. In other countries and regions, when appropriate shared-leave entitlements have been introduced, uptake has soared: for example, to 91% in Iceland, 86% in Quebec and 63% in Portugal.

I think what the author’s saying is that couples with children in Iceland, Quebec, and Portugal share parental leave differently from those in Britain. Obviously, this is a bad thing.

The British system shared parental leave system gives mothers all the leave and then expects them to hand over some of their entitlement to fathers. So the very question, “why don’t fathers take up the entitlement”, which has been asked for years, is flawed.

Presumably because the answer means we are less Icelandic.

It is extraordinarily easy to design a system that would work. Such systems have existed for decades in other countries.

It is? Well, now I’m all ears.

The first thing to understand is that fathers and mothers want the same thing.

Heh! Then why don’t more fathers share the parental leave?

Pew-funded research in the US in 2015 found that fathers were just as likely as mothers to say that parenting was extremely important to their identity (57% and 58% respectively).

Wonderful, but what has this got to do with fathers taking parental leave and splitting the caring duties?

The same research found that 48% of fathers felt they were not doing enough caring.

So more than half thought they were doing plenty.

Earlier Pew research in 2013 found that working fathers were as likely as working mothers to say they preferred to be at home with their children but could not because they had to earn instead (48% of fathers v 52% of mothers).

You don’t say! In other news, middle-aged Brits living in Paris would prefer to loaf around all day watching TV and playing the banjo, but cannot because they have to earn instead.

This means if fathers were to be offered the same as mothers are offered – allowing parents to choose absolutely freely on a level playing field – fathers would take leave in huge numbers.

No it doesn’t, you’ve just written that because you’ve not understood any of the three previous paragraphs. Which, given you wrote them, is impressive. We know fathers don’t want to take time off work to look after their children as part of a parental leave sharing system, and you should be trying to find out why. Instead you dismissed the very question as “flawed” and climbed on your own personal hobby-horse.

It really is that simple.

Well, something here is simple but it’s not your proposal.

A woman on an average annual wage of £27,000 gets, in the first year, six weeks’ state maternity pay at £466 (90% of pay) plus 33 weeks at £141, making a total of £7,449. A father gets two weeks at £141, or £282. So fathers get 26 times less – a gender pay gap of 96%.

If anyone can make head or tail of this, they’re smarter than I am.

If the state treated mothers and fathers equally, and offered them the same entitlement, there would be no need for expensive publicity campaigns.

Okay, here’s the problem. It is well known that the gender pay gap is in part down to women taking breaks from their careers to have kids at the critical stage when everyone else is pulling 70-hour weeks to demonstrate their suitability for higher positions. If men take the same parental leave as women, their careers will suffer too. I’ve no problem with this, but the men concerned might. They might ask themselves why are they killing their career and turning down chances of a bonus when their wife – for purely biological reasons – is sat at home looking after the baby. I read somewhere that in Scandinavia where men and women have the same entitlements, men simply choose not to take it. Having spent a couple of weeks around a mother and newborn baby once, I can understand why.

Men taking time off in the first year would, within a year or two, become a social norm, just like men attending the birth of a baby.

And why would this be a good thing? This sounds more like social engineering to make modern men wetter than they already are. As wet as the author, in fact. Frankly, I don’t see there’s any reason why a man should attend the birth of a baby. Sure, he should be present nearby in case anything goes wrong, but there’s nothing he can actually do in the delivery room. He should be wandering the hospital grounds smoking cigars with other soon-to-be fathers talking about cricket.

One company, Aviva, has introduced a policy of treating mothers and fathers among its staff exactly equally. This is little short of heroic. It is hardly reasonable to expect employers to correct the £7,200 difference in what government gives mothers and fathers.

So it falls to the taxpayer, then. And note he thinks it’s perfectly reasonable to expect employers to find and hire replacements for all these absent fathers.

Other employers make things worse. A 2017 survey of 341 companies found that 95% enhanced maternity pay above statutory provisions, often to a significant extent, but only 4.4% enhanced paternity pay for even part of the statutory two weeks.

Y’know, perhaps these employers have consulted with their staff and found while women are attracted to enhanced maternity pay, men aren’t all that excited about enhanced paternity pay? But they’re just companies employing people under free market conditions, not house husbands who write for The Guardian. What would they know?

Does this matter? Absolutely. Supporting children’s attachments to both their mothers and fathers early in their lives builds the foundation for child development.

Now there’s a pretty frank admission of truth seldom seen in the pages of The Guardian! Perhaps this chap should have a word with his fellow columnists who regularly tell us a child doesn’t need a mother and a father, or any kind of stable relationship at home.

The more fathers care early on, the more they tend to invest in the child for the rest of its life.

And what are all those fathers working late in the office for, eh? For the fun of it?

And when fathers care more, women earn more.

Yes, but the men earn less. That’s precisely why they don’t take parental leave in the numbers you want them to. Little wonder this chap is the stay-at-home dad while wifey goes to work, isn’t it? Can you imagine having this bloke on a job, trying to get something done? I bet his boss punched the air when he announced he was leaving, and hired a fresh cabbage to replace him.


I Am the Very Mother of a Modern Major Whiner

Via My Burning Ears in the comments, I bring you this wonderful little story:

I bought my 17-year-old daughter driving lessons for her birthday. It was always assumed she would have my partner’s six-year-old car when she passed her test and that he would get a new, bigger car.

This seems very generous. What a lucky girl!

But she has decided she doesn’t want this car: it’s not cool enough, it’s the wrong colour and the pattern on the seats is embarrassing. She feels we should buy her a different car. I think she is being ungrateful; she’s lucky to be given a good car.

Oh. Well, if that’s how she feels, fair enough. My suggestion is you tell her that’s the car on offer and she can take it or leave it, but next week it’s going on eBay and if she wants it after that point she’s going to have to put in a winning bid.

However, many of her friends have been given “better” cars. One has a brand-new Mini; another was going to have her mum’s car but didn’t like it, so they sold it to buy her a new one, leaving her parents to share a car. Others have been bought used cars that are not embarrassing.

This is what happens when parents enter into social groups where children – or rather, the money lavished on them – marks one’s status. This is a lot more common than you think: next time you hear a middle-class mother talking about how well her eight year old daughter is doing in her tennis lessons, ask yourself for whose benefit the club membership was bought.

My daughter doesn’t need a car – her sixth form school is two minutes’ walk away and we have good public transport.

No, it’s a status symbol. But your daughter’s materialism and status-signalling didn’t come out of a clear blue sky. How much of it was learned at home?

We can afford to buy her a car, but I don’t think that’s the best thing to do.

Only now is it dawning on her that lavishing gifts on her ungrateful brat might not be the wisest course of action.

She has some money from a savings plan, which she’s suggested using, but she is supposed to be saving for university.

Depending on what she intends to study at university, buying a car might be the better option. After all, you wouldn’t want her to be £30k in debt in three years’ time and having to take the bus to McDonald’s each day, would you?

Also, if she did spend that money, it would mean an older car than the one she is being offered, which I don’t think is sensible.

Yes, but the car might be cooler. This is important. Why a grown woman feels the need to write to a national newspaper for help with this stuff is a mystery to me. What’s the girl’s father doing? The woman refers to a partner rather than husband. If he’s not the girl’s father, this might explain everything.

Am I being stubborn, or out of touch? I appreciate teenagers today have different expectations and more pressure through social media than I did. But I am struggling with this.

This has little to do with the daughter, and everything to do with the mother. The advice is also amusing:

We all want our children to know their own minds and show independence, but the moment they do – usually about things we may not agree with – some parents don’t like it. I want you to imagine your daughter at a work meeting (or similar) in a few years from now. She is offered a substandard contract or, at least, one she doesn’t like. And she digs in her heels and asks for a better one. You’d be proud, wouldn’t you?

I bet both the author and the mother have conjured up visions of the daughter becoming a high-flying power-skirt being headhunted for a senior role by several major corporations, issuing her demands for a bigger bonus and the corner office. In reality, she’s more likely to be presented with a zero-hours contract from Sports Direct which is about as negotiable as Annapurna in winter. In order to negotiate a contract, you need to understand your market worth and be able to convince the other party of the value you will bring to the table. An employment contract is, in theory, mutually beneficial – quite unlike the gift of a car. It is a poor analogy, and worse advice. When you’re young and inexperienced you need to do crap work for not much pay until you’ve figured out what you want to do, and start developing your market worth. Until then, simply saying “I don’t like it” and digging in your heels isn’t going to result in anything other than you living for a long time in your parents’ house.

It’s easy to say your daughter is spoiled and being bratty…

I’ve encountered greater difficulties cloud-watching.

It does not mean that you should just buy her another car. You shouldn’t. You have offered her the car and you should let her do what she wants with it. Give her the option of selling it and buying another car of her choice with the money. Let her learn about commerce and that to make something happen, she needs to have some input.

The savings fund is a difficult prospect. I don’t know if it’s in her name or yours; if she has sole control over it, there’s little you can do if she decides to spend it, and the harder you push or threaten, the more determined she will be to prove you wrong. When teenagers want something, they do so with a desire and tenacity that is immensely powerful. It’s not a good idea to get in the way of it. Instead, you need to approach it as you would a rip-tide at sea – don’t swim against it, but go alongside it until the pull subsides and you can swim to shore.

Okay, the practical advice is sensible. It’s a shame the author had to sugar-coat the root cause, though.

To help you process this, I would also ponder what this means for you. Don’t feel rejected by her not wanting the “embarrassing” car. This has nothing to do with you. Teenage behaviour can shine a light into areas of a parent’s life that may need work: if there is anything you feel insecure about, they will find it. Try to unravel what this means for you beyond the car.

As I said, this isn’t really about the daughter, or the car.