Hey, haters, leave my kid alone! Tom Daley's mum hits out at her medal-winning son's detractors...

... and she's not the first to rise above the parental parapet. But does publicly defending your well-known child cause more harm than good? Will Coldwell finds out

Life really is a dive for Tom Daley. The cheeky Team GB star's fledgling television career has barely begun, yet objectively speaking it has done terribly. He has been publicly criticised by British Swimming chief executive David Sparkes for putting his media career ahead of his sport and reviewers have collectively dismissed his celebrity diving show Splash! as "belly-flop TV", "a new low" and "utterly dreadful". Fortunately, the lovable Daley can always count on one fan – his mother.

Debbie Daley has written an open letter to David Sparkes, published in the Daily Mail today, hitting back at her son's critics. "Tom was possibly one of the athletes who helped you retain your job," she writes. "Others say that your performance was the worst of any CEO in British sport… You are worried about Tom's performances? Well, I am worried about yours."

Impressive as this smackdown may seem, it's not the first time the mother of a celebrity has jumped to the defence of their spawn. Last August the mother of the chart-topping singer Jessie Ware bore down on a troll who sent Jessie an anti-Semitic tweet. Helena Ware, responded with: "You are revolting and I am reporting you for outright racism. You clearly have no friends, either. Just one follower you horrible sad man." Well played.

Other cases include Jo Miller, who called for an end to "Sienna bashing" following criticism of her daughter's relationship with married oil heir Balthazar Getty. Similarly, when Hollywood wildchild Lindsay Lohan was jailed in 2010 for her third drink-driving offence, her publicity-shy mother Dina Lohan blamed the judge for "playing hardball". Only last November, Jada Pinkett Smith took to Facebook to tell critics of daughter Willow's new punk haircut that: "Even little girls have the RIGHT to own themselves."

Still, getting involved with your children's disputes can be a risky business. "With regards to the media, it's a bit like a child getting bullied at school," says family therapist Ged Smith, who is on the board of the Association of Family Therapy. "Parental involvement can be helpful, but it can also make it worse – like if the other kids find out someone's mum has called the teacher."

"My advice would be to communicate with the child first, get permission and let them know your intentions. Otherwise they may not thank you. There comes a time when you don't need your mum to back you up."

This time however, it seems Debbie did good, with Tom tweeting "My mum is AMAZING :Dx". At least we know that's one person who will keep watching Splash!

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