Standing up to Supernanny: why we need a Parents' Liberation Movement

Sunday 1 November, 3.45pm until 5.15pm, Café

Everybody these days seems to know best about how to raise children - apart from parents. From politicians issuing statements on how to ‘improve parenting’, to policy initiatives designed to promote better parental behaviour, to countless TV shows and self-help books produced by self-appointed experts, ‘parenting’ has come to be seen as the must-have skill of the twenty-first century. And it is one all parents must learn. But is parenting a skill that can be practised according to the prescriptions of accredited practitioners? Are parents so bad at bringing up their children that they need classes and official support in matters of everyday family life? What accounts for the popularity of parenting advice? Isn’t it really time we stood up for ourselves and our families against the relentless pressure to conform to the prototype of the perfect parent?

This session discusses the new book Standing Up To Supernanny, written by Jennie Bristow with the Academy of Ideas Parents’ Forum. Contributors to the book will join Bristow in a roundtable discussion to launch a Parents’ Liberation Movement - and discuss where that might start.

Speakers
Jennie Bristow
senior lecturer in sociology, Canterbury Christ Church University; author, The Sociology of Generations: New directions and challenges and Baby Boomers and Generational Conflict; co-author, Parenting Culture Studies

Jennifer Howze
founder, BritMums blogging network and BritMums Live! conference

Tracey Jensen
doctoral candidate, Open University; editorial assistant, Studies in the Maternal; researcher into parenting advice, policy and culture

Zoe Williams
columnist, Guardian; author, What Not to Expect When You're Expecting

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


Produced by
Jennie Bristow senior lecturer in sociology, Canterbury Christ Church University; author, The Sociology of Generations: New directions and challenges and Baby Boomers and Generational Conflict; co-author, Parenting Culture Studies
Jane Sandeman convenor, IoI Parents Forum; contributor, Standing up to Supernanny; director of finance and central services, Cardinal Hume Centre
Recommended readings
The perils of modern parenting - whatever happened to muddling through?

There's a multi-million pound industry out there telling us how to be model parents. Since when did bringing up children become so complicated?

Marianne Kavanagh, Telegraph, 3 October 2009

Let’s stand up to ‘supernanny’

Jennie Bristow’s new book is as engaging and witty as those rebellious ‘bad mum’ memoirs. But it’s far more important, both explaining and critiquing the tsunami of state meddling in family affairs.

Ann Furedi, spiked, 25 September 2009

Standing Up to Supernanny

Parenthood, we are told, requires a massive adjustment to our lives, emotions, and relationships, and we have to be taught how to deal with that. But can it really be so bad that we need constant counselling and parenting classes? It is a myth that today's parents are hopeless and lazy: in many ways, we have become too diligent, too hopeful of great outcomes and clear rewards, to the point where we lose ourselves in trying to provide some kind of professional service to our children.

Jennie Bristow, Imprint Academic, 16 September 2009

Free Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had without Going Nuts with Worry

Skenazy flies the black flag of “America’s Worst Mom,” a title this syndicated columnist and NPR commentator earned by allowing her nine–year–old son to ride the New York City public transit alone in 2008.

Lenore Skenazy, Jossey Bass, 31 March 2009

This is a job for the boys

It's up to men to counter modern risk culture and offer children some inspirational role models

Zoe Williams, Guardian, 21 January 2009

The state is a pretty rotten parent

Before the state goes any further in its attempt to make the rest of us better parents, maybe it should take a look at what is going on in its own back yard

Fiona Millar, Guardian, 11 July 2006

Session partners