Can you be a perfect parent?

Sunday 20 October, 3.30pm until 4.45pm, Frobisher 1-3 Contemporary Controversies

Advice on how to bring up your children, alongside warnings about the dangers if it is not followed, is omnipresent. How parents behave towards their children, how we talk to them, play with them, how many activities we enrol them into and whether we put too much pressure on them, or don’t help them enough are now seen as the factors that determine the kind of adults our children will become and the opportunities that they will have when they grow up. But much of the advice on offer is contradictory; what was fashionable one day is blamed for creating the wrong kind of behaviour and outcomes for our children the next. Accused of rearing a new generation of cotton-wool kids, do we let our children roam free or might we be branded negligent? Do parents who indulge in a regular tipple at home allow children to see normalised responsible drinking or is this a recipe for breeding binge-drinkers? Are you a model mother if you read nightly to the kids, help with homework, tirelessly take them to galleries, ballet, tennis – or are you a monstrous Tiger Mum?

We all want the best for our children, but even if we take all the parenting lessons and read all the manuals now on offer, will it help us to be a perfect parent, and how much does how we parent matter?

Dr Ellie Lee
reader in social policy, University of Kent, Canterbury; director, Centre for Parenting Culture Studies

Catherine May
corporate affairs director, SABMiller plc

Dr Stefan Ramaekers
assistant professor, Laboratory of Education and Society, KU Leuven

Kate Williams
editor, Mumsnet Blogger Network

Sally Millard
co-founder, IoI Parents Forum

Produced by
Sally Millard co-founder, IoI Parents Forum
Recommended readings
Kirstie Allsopp: Parenting 'isn't rocket science'

Mother-of-two Kirstie Allsopp, who is an ambassador for the parenting charity Home-Start, told Newsnight it is difficult for some people to be good parents, because they didn't have good parents themselves.

BBC, 13 September 2013

Government parenting advice is 'corrosive and harmful', report finds

Official Government advice telling people how to bring young children up should be torn up because it is “corrosive and harmful” and can damage family life, a new academic report argues.

John Bingham, Telegraph, 21 June 2013

Are you a guilty parent? Time to ignore the endless bossy studies

Here's the golden rule of being a parent: whatever you do is wrong.

Marianne Kavanagh, Parent Dish, 24 September 2011

The tyranny of parental determinism

The Lib-Con government is using junk neuroscience to claim that bad parenting causes all of society’s ills.

Ellie Lee, spiked, 24 August 2011

Changing Parenting Culture

All of the papers here explore the kinds of evidence which are increasingly called upon to make what might best be called moral arguments about the best way to raise children.

Charlotte Faircloth & Ellie Lee, Sociological Research Online, 30 November 2010

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