Happy Father’s Day

19 06 2011

Happy Father’s Day!

It’s interesting that both my off-spring saw fit to send me cards on the theme of liquid refreshment!

Call me an aficionado of rose-tinted sunglasses, but in my mind’s eye Father’s day is always hot and sunny and Dad celebrates the occasion by slaving over a flaming barbecue, slowly cremating the sausages and burgers, while being fed an endless stream of nicely chilled ‘tinnies’ by his children!

Not so today, unfortunately, the latest in a seemingly endless grim, grey, ‘summer’, with more of the same forecast for next week. It’s just gone noon and I already feel moved to brighten the mood by cracking open my first beer of the day.

This is an alarming example to set, I know, especially in a week when the Joseph Rowntree Foundation made the earth shattering announcement that children who regularly see their parents drinking are twice as likely to binge on alcohol!  It’s a good job both my chicks, now fully fledged, have flown the family nest and, amazingly, were able to do so without being breathalised!

Even curiouser – apparently the odds of teenagers indulging in alcoholic drink is also much greater if parents don’t know where they are on a Saturday night or if they are allowed to watch 18-rate films unsupervised. Well I never! I would also imagine the same is the case with regard to a whole range of anti-social behaviour. 

And I was flabbergasted to read that: “this research shows that parents can have more influence on their teenagers’ behaviour than perhaps may be assumed.” Well isn’t that staggering?

This ground breaking research also found that the influence of friends was even more significant than that of parents when it came to childhood drinking. Well, whatever will they come up with next?

Joking aside, what have we come to as a society if Dads and Mums need reminding that they are important role models for their children, should know where they are (on a Saturday or any other night for that matter), who they are with, and have a parental responsibility for policing the films, computer games, magazines and websites they access?   

It absolutely amazes me that these findings are considered remotely newsworthy but, then again, it shouldn’t. 

I fear we undoubtedly live in times where basic parenting skills, across all social groups in the UK, are deteriorating at an alarming rate. As an education professional I’ve witnessed the steady decline, close up,  over a 35 year period.

It isn’t difficult to find a causal link between many of society’s current ills and poor parenting (although until recently it has usually been more politically expedient to lay the blame on teachers and the lack of discipline in schools) but addressing the problem is an altogether more challenging proposition. 

I’m afraid it will require rather more than endless, vacuous, soundbites about the ‘Big Society’ to improve the situation.

I know, it might help if  ‘Call me Dave’ uses Father’s Day to promote his constructive suggestion that society should ‘stigmatise’ absentee Dads in the same way it does drinking drivers!  

It’s all just too depressing to contemplate. I think it’s time for another can. Cheers, Happy Father’s Day!                     

           

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