Parenting lessons are about the Nanny State, not Supernanny

EACH time I go to the doctor, I dread the blood pressure test. Out comes the cuff-of-doom, which just about fits around my chubby bingo-wing before the inevitable nurse-inflicted bruising starts.

As the air is pumped in, I try desperately to be calm. Controlled breathing Hilary, nice thoughts . . . ouch! This blinkin’ hurts!

The result is usually “a little bit higher than it should be.”

Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m not the most placid of people. My workmates wince at my noisiness, my sons steer me away from potential confrontation in supermarket car parks, my family eye-roll discreetly at whichever particular rant I happen to be on.

They’re used to it, so they know, that much like the popularity Nick Clegg, it will be over as quickly as it began.

Sometimes though, there are issues that bubble and fester in the back of my head without raising my blood pressure to its usual eye-popping level. They build, ominously.

One such issue is the party politicising of parenting.

This week specifically, ‘free parenting classes’ accessed via vouchers given out at Boots (hey, and make sure you spend, spend, spend while you’re in there!)

There’s even meant to be an iPad app, telling you how to change a nappy or cope with teething. *reaches for blood pressure monitor.*

Bad parenting is blamed for everything. It’s our fault kids are fat, it’s our fault they are unemployable, and our fault the country is in debt because we spoiled them on our credit cards in the 90s.

In a bare-faced attempt to look like they give a toss, the government are throwing good money at this instead of actually investing in more and better social workers and health care professionals who already run these services.  It’s a PR stunt, started by previous governments with ‘tsars’ and ‘initiatives’ that saw money disappearing into some quango or ‘facilitator’.

It’s a tricky subject, I know. We read about many children suffering neglect and abuse and how their parents had been ‘badly parented’ themselves. And they come from every social class. The courts can already make parenting orders on those whose criminal neglect sees them in front of a magistrate.

Sure Start centres across the country have been quietly getting on and helping thousands of families who really do need help. Those with post-natal depression, in abusive relationships, or whose extended families have rejected them.

But they are also seeing free services being snapped up by uber-parents; those who over-parent their offspring through the neurotic belief that they aren’t doing it ‘properly’ already, (so the State, or Mumsnet keeps telling them).

Some remember their own strict 1950s-style parents handing out more punishment than hugs, and decide to reverse that behavior towards their own brats offspring. The ones who really need the classes would never go whether they are free or not.

The truth is that becoming a parent is a terrifying and bewildering thing. With some common sense, a good health visitor with more than five minutes to spare, some honest friends with children we don’t detest, and memories about the best parts of our own childhoods, we can just about get through it. Without the Nanny State throwing away money that should be spent on services we already have.


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