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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Joanna Bogle: Why British children are sad

"If one single cause of misery could be brought out as heading a list, it would be the denial of a child’s right to a father. Cruel policies in divorce courts block fathers from seeing their children: a mother is deemed to have the right to force her children to live with her and her new boyfriend while a father becomes a marginal figure whose visits can be blocked or made extremely difficult by moving to a distant place.

"Divorce can also bring other effects: conscious that their children are likely to be unhappy when a home breaks up, parents tend to try to compensate by soft-pedalling on discipline, allowing bad behaviour which really requires correction.

"There are other ways of inducing heartache in children, too: over-indulgence and giving them a sense of entitlement to instant gratification makes them angry with themselves and with others, discontented, unable to manage small everyday challenges. Failure to punish bad behaviour means that they are confused and life seems to lack structure and purpose.

"And the fashionable emphasis on 'genderless parenting' mean that a simple truth has been ignored: children need both mothers and fathers, who relate to them in different ways. A family should not have to be politically-correct, and nor should its means of communication or discipline have to follow fashion. Families need to have a confidence in being what they are, and parents should be allowed and encouraged to make use of their best instincts and their common sense."

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