Bad Parenting

Mr Wilshaw has been at it again.

Some parents are bad.


Some parents just don’t give their children the opportunities, from the earliest of days, for them to get ahead.

Some parents take their children to group after group after group and their kids never get to spend a moment at home.


Some mothers give their children milk in bottles.

Some mothers breastfeed their children far beyond the age acceptable in polite society.


Some fathers don’t get back from work in time to put their children to bed, or read them a story.

Some fathers don’t go out to work.


Some mothers put their children’s needs before their own.

Some put their own first.


Some mothers keep their children far too close for far too long.

Some contract out the job to boarding schools.


Some parents check their children for acceptability before they are born.

Some refuse to take any tests, or worse, take no notice of test results.


Some parents allow their children to watch or play games or films inappropriate to their children’s age.

Some parents wrap their offspring up in cotton wool.


Some parents don’t help their children with their homework.

Some parents do it for them.


Some parents drive their kids to school.

Some make them walk all the way on their own.


Some parents let their children eat their meals in front of the telly.

Some parents sit at the table and shout at their children because they won’t eat their vegetables.


Some parents smack their children.

Some parents use emotional blackmail to control them.


Some parents favour one child over another.

Some parents treat all their children the same, regardless.


Some parents send their kids to bed too early.

Some let them stay up too late.


Some parents, but not very many, don’t love their children.

And that’s got nothing to do with being poor.



17 thoughts on “Bad Parenting

  1. It is not clear to me whether “that’s got nothing to do with being peer” applies to all the previous statements, or only to “some parents, but not many, don’t love their children”. That is not, IMO, a directly testable hypothesis either way. But other statements are testable. Corporal punishment is correlated with socioeconomic status, as is intimate partner domestic violence The same is true for drug abuse and most other pathological behaviours. I am not a great believer in parenting as something that matters much in life for the vast majority of children. Stuff like helicopter parenting is stupid but mostly irrelevant. Not helping your kid with their homework probably puts them at a very slight disadvantage at most. Staying up too late? Meh. Wilshaw sounds like he has jumped on the preschool-as-saviour train, which is ridiculous. The utility of preschool is for the parents – only in fairly rare cases does the child get much benefit IMO, and even the benefits of incredibly intensive preschool interventions are highly debatable. He’s going down a blind alley, but then he’s hardly alone – many educationalists have as well. But nor should it be implied that really shitty parenting, the kind that probably does matter in the medium term, is not more common amongst the poor.

      1. Of course, the other thing that occurs is Wilshaw is jumping on the bandwagon of getting mothers (mostly) into work. (And I feel this as a mother of a child with sen too.) Why? Why is this? I get the economic argument (even if I disagree) but why the educational one? There’s plenty of evidence out there to say that being with a secure care giver (which is not the same as school) matters hugely, especially when they are little. *sighs at the state of the world*

  2. The only ‘perfect parenting’ is the one that is done in hindsight, or done by those with no children.

    Was I a ‘perfect’ parent? Nope.
    Was I a ‘good’ parent? Quite probably.
    Would my kids agree? Not until they have kids of their own.

    Will my kids be ‘perfect’ parents? Nope.
    Will they be ‘good’ parents? Quite probably.
    Will their kids agree? Not until they have children of their own…..

  3. This Be the Verse by Philip Larkin

    They f you up your mum and dad
    They may not mean to but they do
    They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra just for you

    But they were f’d up in their turn
    By fools in old style hats and coats,
    Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats

    Man hands on misery to man
    It deepens like a coastal shelf
    Get out as early as you can
    And don’t have any kids yourself

    Just a bit of tongue in cheek humour.

  4. Wow, that first commenter is a pain in the ass, not to mention being absolutely wrong. I love what you’re saying here. Thank you for saying it.

  5. I would argue that children who are disadvantaged need LONGER at home. Surely it is detrimental to the child to cut maternal ties before they are properly established?

  6. Some students lack love at home, and need this in buckets at school. Some students lack security/stability at home and need a school environment they can depend on. Others are just needing adult mentors who talk with them and validate them as individuals to thrive. Many have confidence issues because of stereotypes about who they are and need to find examples of people like them, who they admire, to only see how to thrive as themselves. Very few students have everything they need at home, but those who do just need school to crack on with the knowledge teaching because, for them, anything else is wasted time …I’m wondering how many of this minority make up our political class?

  7. Wilshaw et al haven’t got a clue about the rearing of children to be securely attached, curious, emotionally literate, reflective or even happy. This ‘women into work’ obsession will come back to bite us if it does lead to droves of children spending most of their waking hours in an outside of their home setting.
    This article sums up the error of their policy:

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