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The worst parents in the world ?

Posted by Big John on February 15, 2007

So Britain ranks 21 (one below the USA) at the very bottom of the latest UNICEF report on the wellbeing of children in the richest industrialised countries in the world.

I’m surprised that we even made it to the final list, judging by what we can observe around us and read about in the press every day.

As you would expect, the U.K. has the worst levels of youth drunkenness and teenage sexual relations and ranks poorly when it comes to ‘quality of relationships’.

This subject is far too complex to go into here in my little blog, and anyway, you can read the ‘experts’ opinions in every newspaper.  However, I would like to comment on that ‘quality of relationships’ when it comes to parent and child, for I find that many parents in this country seem to totally ignore their children and ‘exclude’ them from their everyday activities.

Now I am not talking about the obvious case of the so called ‘underclass’ single mother and her ‘feral’ offspring, for you can see many examples of this ‘exclusion’ without going anywhere near a run down council estate.

Just take a look at the mother who is too busy gossiping to her friend in the supermarket to answer her inquisitive child’s questions: or the father who spends a fortune on toys for his kids but never plays with them, just like the mother who spends hours at the gym when she could be taking the kids for a bike ride: but most obvious of all is when you observe a group of British parents and their children in a restaurant, for almost always the kids will be segregated.

In other European countries families seem to dine as ‘a family’. In other words the young ones are included in the group and sit amongst the other family members, taking part in conversations and generally behaving themselves: unlike the British group where the parents talk amongst themselves and the kids get bored and become disruptive.

If this is how many parents fail to relate to their children in public … 

…     what must it be like at home ?


6 Responses to “The worst parents in the world ?”

  1. Betty said

    I hardly ever eat out in a restaurant because, invariably, I am seated at a table next to a group of people with unruly children. They are allowed to talk at the top of their lungs and fidget around and even get up and run around. I actually had a friend who let her grandson go from table to table and sing a little song. Nobody seemed to appreciate it but her.

    Don’t get me started.

  2. Jackshian said

    I think this is all about ‘ticking the boxes’

    1. Get married (maybe)
    2. Buy house
    3. Buy new car
    4. Buy new plasma 42″ tv
    5. Have a baby

    Trouble is the baby grows into a young child who then demands your love and attention (the cars and other stuff you can replace or reject) .. maybe a little more long term thought is called for as babies are for life rather than a fashion item.

  3. Terri said

    Ironic that I also blogged about “parenting” today from a personal viewpoint.
    I SO agree with you….very little thought is given to having children, I’m afraid. And of course, it’s the children that pay the price.
    I believe a lot of it is due to the ME generation….it’s all about them. Certainly not the welfare of the children, in most cases.

  4. Ginnie said

    We (the US) didn’t fare very well either,John. I wrote a blog entry back in July of last year called “Around the dining room table…1940’s”. We kids were all encouraged to participate and it was a wonderful leaning experience. Those were really “good old days”.

  5. gawilli said

    Ginnie is right. Things were different even when my generation was coming up in the late 50’s early 60’s. Family dinner was an event. There was no excuse for absence or tardiness. Manners were taught, learned, and expected. Social skills were honed. When my husbands children share our table we expect no less. It was a little awkward in the beginning, however now they are anxious to come to the table. For one, they enjoy food that is prepared, not brought into the house in a sack. They also are anxious to share their thoughts and ideas. All is not lost, if we only take the time.

  6. Oscarandre said

    Australia was not included in this study, BJ, but I suspect the results would have been similar. Neglect comes in many forms and is common enough in our affluent suburbs although more easily hidden. An Australian study about 5 years ago found that kids were quite understanding of their parents need to work – what they didn’t like was the poor quality of the relationship once dad and mum came home. Emotional distance is far more damaging than physical distance.

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