Politically Incorrect Parenting – Nigel Latta

Today’s guest blog is from Nigel Latta – author of a new book called Politically Incorrect Parenting. He writes about his own experiences as a dad and how he soon gave up trying to be a modern parent and how – quite possibly – our generation of parents has been sold a number.

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I tried to be a modern parent, I really did. It lasted about two and a half weeks before I got bored with it all and decided that it wasn’t for me. I remember making that decision one morning when my wife was out and I was in sole charge. I was sitting on the sofa, bottle-feeding my first born son (something for which I will almost certainly go to hell), and we were watching some ridiculous baby-brain development DVD. It was so boring it was almost physically painful to watch.
“Look,” I said to my infant son as he guzzled away like a small bald monkey, “we can either watch this crap… or… we could watch Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator.”
Fortunately, with my years of advanced psychological training I was able to discern from his various burps and gurgles that he was mad keen on watching Arnie blow stuff up.
I’ve never looked back since then and, frankly, neither has he.
I think our generation of parents has been sold a number. My mum and dad’s generation just got on with the business of raising children without feeling the need to fret and worry about every last little thing. If mum got sick of us squabbling she just told us to go outside and play, which we did. Not only that but we did it without the benefit of constantly hovering adult supervision and in a world that still had sharp edges and climbable trees.
We, on the other hand, worry about every last little thing. We fret over whether they’re too hot or too cold, or they’re too bored, or too excited, or too high, or too just about everything. We’ve been sold this line that our job is to protect them from every bad thing, to make sure every whim is satisfied, and to ensure they never feel bad about anything. We’ve got to keep everything happy, and content, and stimulating, and age appropriate.
Which all sounds like a good thing, but somehow is the complete opposite of a good thing.
In truth I think this approach sucks the fun out of many childhoods, and makes parenting incredibly stressful. I think we’re the most hard working, guilt laden parents in the history of parenting. Many parents feel like they’re constantly failing their children. If we get angry and yell (and we all get angry and yell), we feel guilty. If we don’t read them three bedtime stories every single night, we feel guilty. If we don’t have them doing sixteen different after school activities, we feel guilty.
Our children are growing up in a world where they can look at live pictures of the International Space Station on the computer in their living room, but they may never have been down to the local playground by themselves. And when they do go down there the playground is brightly painted, covered in rubber mats, and just a little bit dull. Gone are the frighteningly high slides and the metal monkey bars with sharp edges. How do children ever learn to manage risk when they never experience risk?
So what can we do about all of this? Simple. Just refuse to play that silly game. Decide that we’re happy for our children to experience a little boredom from time to time, because that’s when they come up with some of their best ideas to make life more fun. Let them climb trees, and fences, and rocks. Don’t solve every problem they have, let them have a go by themselves first. Teach them a few truths, like the fact that life isn’t always fair, and you don’t always get a turn. There’s nothing bad about a little pain and unhappiness. Skinned knees and disappointments are a part of life we all have to learn to deal with sooner or later. Most of all, remember that you’re the parent, and that means you don’t always have to be their friend, and they don’t always have to like you. Sometimes, if you’re doing your job properly, they will dislike you intensely, and that’s okay.
Skinned knees, disappointments, and occasionally thinking your mum is a total grump are all part of the rich tapestry of a childhood well spent!

Find out more about Nigel’s book here: The Politically Incorrect Parenting Book by Nigel Latta (Vermillion) £12.99.
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What do you think of Nigel’s guest post – do you agree with what he says? Are you a worrier or do you just get on with it? How does the way you are parenting your child differ from the way you were brought up? We’d love to know. Do leave us a comment below.

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9 Responses to Politically Incorrect Parenting – Nigel Latta

  1. sarah says:

    I’d love to follow these rules,and do try not to molly coddlemy kids,but then you switch on the news and see kids being murdered or walk to the park and there’s a gang of kids swearing and spitting,and think,actually no I can’t loosen the reins.

  2. Salwa says:

    The best parenting article I have read in ages!

  3. bubbablue says:

    We’re in the middle of nowhere, on a farm, so lots of opportunities for danger, climbing trees, mud and animals. Great for learning, especially for my little one to toddle after his dad, uncle and cousins and to learn the fun and dangers for himself without worrying about the threats that so many other people have to worry about in areas which are less ‘safe’. We used to camp out on the green without our parents – all the kids from the house estate. Great fun, all done in a very middle class way, and we used to escape to go and investigate the local woods behind the disused carpet factory. Not what we were allowed to do, but we did it anyway, and lots got the bumps and bruises to prove it.

  4. Cycle Sprog says:

    Brilliant article. We have a well worn copy of Nigel Latta’s book “Before your kids drive you crazy read this” . Unfortunately it’s now out of print in the UK, so glad to see this new book!

  5. I completely agree with you. I have two boys and am definitely old school, because I didn’t have them until my forties which qualifies me for Old School! Well done, well said.

  6. Diane Robison says:

    It’s a fab article and I know exactly what he means about some parks. But we’ve never gone for the politically correct parenting anyway, being slightly older parents, mid-late 30s when I had my two, husband a bit older. My son, 11 and mildly asd and daughter 9 are currently facsinated with the London Underground though we live near Manchester, not sure where it came from. Anyway, they have put it up on the net (the net is here and we use it but it’s not be all and end all!) but this did then encourage a game away from the computer with drawings of stations, stories of ghosts etc etc etc. They do have the net and wii but balanced out with bikes, getting wet in the rain etc.

  7. Diane Robison says:

    Oh PS to above, this is absolutely true. My daughter came home from school the other day saying her and her best friend were making a worm farm at school at dinner time on the field. She then goes into our garden, digging away for worms to take to school the next day. I then had to give her a plastic container with tin foil over the top with little holes in to take to school. The container has not come back yet, she had dirty finger nails and said she saw something white in her poo moving about, of course yes shock horror worms but straight to the chemist for worm tablets for us all but the fun of getting dirty and using her imagination! I dread to think what is in her tray at school though (the old wooden desks were far better for creepy crawlies!); don’t know if the teachers knew about the worms but just left her to it and not heard anymore about it…

  8. Pingback: Politically Incorrect Parenting - Kirsten Hanlon

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