Emma Brockes

Parenting is a source of joy, not angst

December 21, 2016

Jan Macvarish t has become clear over the past two decades that the only people credited with possessing absolutely no expertise when it comes to raising children are parents themselves. Just this month, for example, the UK children’s commissioner, Anne Longfield, said that parents in the north of England were holding their children back by not being as pushy as their southern counterparts; Dr Mai Stafford, a mathematician and social epidemiologist from University College London, announced that ‘overly controlling parents’ cause lasting harm to their children; and Guardian journalist Emma Brockes declared that speaking in a babyish way to babies ‘is silly and self-indulgent and does nothing for the baby’. This suggestion that parents are doing it all wrong, that there is a ‘parenting deficit’, is now a key feature of cultural and political life. Parents today are simultaneously flattered for performing ‘the most important job in the world’, while being routinely denigrated for not being up to the task. Not that the purveyors of parenting advice act like hectoring moralists, telling parents off. No, they ground...

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