Is 'poor parenting' a class issue?
Saturday 1 November, 3.30pm until 5.00pm, Seminar Space

Initiatives designed to improve the lives of children are ten-a-penny since the government’s flagship Sure Start initiative, with New Labour and the Conservatives vying to give the most detailed policy prescription for what makes a good childhood. What current initiatives all have in common is their focus on the behaviour of parents, and when politicians talk about ‘problem parents’, we all know who they mean. From the war on junk food and youth binge drinking to the pressure exerted on parents by schools to improve their own literacy levels, recycling habits, and compliance with healthy lifestyles, the orthodoxy of ‘good parenting’ often seems to be a thinly-veiled attack on the way adults live their lives – often with a heavy dose of snobbery. Where the welfare state attempted to counter the problems facing low-income families through financial assistance, the therapeutic state pursues these families with a relentless programme of emotional support and childrearing advice.  Are a child’s life chances really determined more by parental behaviour than by family income? Is it right to use children as a conduit for attempting to change the behaviour of ‘hard-to-reach’ adults? What makes a ‘poor parent’ anyway?

Professor Val Gillies
director, Families & Social Capital Research Group, Weeks Centre for Social and Policy Research, London South Bank University; co-editor, Family Troubles? Exploring changes and challenges in the family lives of children and young people
Suzi Godson
columnist, Body and Soul, The Times; writer on sex, relationships and the family; author The Body Bible: Every woman’s essential companion
Dr Jan Macvarish
associate lecturer and researcher, Centre for Parenting Culture Studies, University of Kent; author, Neuroparenting: The Expert Invasion of Family Life
Dr Dalia Ben-Galim
senior research fellow, Social Policy, Institute for Public Policy Research

 Produced by
Jane Sandeman convenor, IoI Parents Forum; contributor, Standing up to Supernanny; director of finance and central services, Cardinal Hume Centre

 Recommended readings
Unequal Britain: The future has already been decided for our children

Under the Labour Government social mobility in this country has got worse. One writer argues that we need to act now to reverse this shameful trend

Mary Ann Sieghart, The Times, 12 June 2008

Tackling the bad-parent society

Children are increasingly left to their own devices and they grow up devoid of guidance or ambition for their future.

Chris Grayling, The Sunday Times, 18 May 2008

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