Deborah Orr: How can we bring up children properly when we refuse to grow up ourselves?

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The Independent Online

My only problem with his theory is that it doesn't go far enough. The merest glance at the latest crime figures confirms that while planned criminal activity is in steady decline, opportunistic criminal behaviour of the type linked to poor impulse control is rife. Since it is perfectly normal in one's teenage years to be very much in the throes of such behaviour, it does not seem unreasonable to assume that teenage parents will be very much like their peers.

Yet at the same time it would be mad to lay the full burden of the rise in violence at the door of the children who are raising children. Hosking claims that we are 25 times more likely now to be the victim of violent crime than in the 1950s. He argues that the "lower emotional maturity" and "lower emotional reserves" of teenagers leads them to behave erratically in front of and towards their children. But perhaps it is all more subtle than that. Maybe the ever-more pervasive lack of maturity in our whole culture is making a contribution as well.

Adults, after all, seem more and more reluctant to admit, even to themselves, that they are in fact grown-up. A recent survey uncovered that people now consider "youth" to end that the age of 49. I speak from my own experience when I say that hanging on to youth doesn't just mean carrying on going to live gigs and clubs, wearing clothes from Top Shop and forever pondering the great philosophical issues surrounding plastic surgery. It also involves sulking, indulging in temper tantrums, and adopting an I-didn't-ask-to-be-born attitude towards the world in general. I'd love to imagine that I come across to my children as a distant and mature authority figure. But I can't help suspecting that actually they see me more as a grotesquely overgrown sister.

Amazingly, this gross-out phenomenon is actually celebrated. It's reckoned to be a marvellous thing that Kate Moss and her mother are more like siblings. Yet it's surely just another aspect of the extraordinary position the model finds herself in. At 31, she's not just an embodiment of carefree English beauty. She's also celebrated for the youthfulness of her style and her life. The general public of the entire western world is standing at the sidelines of her existence, and willing her to stay, like She Who Must Be Obeyed, forever young. All she did, as far as I can see, to prompt what is tritely referred to as "her fall from grace" is make an impressive fist of obliging us all.

Now, of course, the rumour mill is enjoying reporting that the poor woman is terrified of having her daughter taken away from her. Could such rank hypocrisy really be enacted? Moss's antics may not be straight out of Penelope Leech. But they are less dangerous to her children than the all-too-human shortcomings - hinted at in Hosking's report - of an a over-stretched teenager with a cheap wine hangover and a child who needs attention.

This week, too, a set of triplets was born to Natalie Scanlan, a 16-year-old girl under the impression that all her children need is love. Sometimes teenage mothers do magnificently against the odds. Ms Scanlan, with the dad of her babies and her own dad out of the picture, and £150 in benefits to feed and clothe her children on, will need extraordinary maturity to triumph in this way. She will not, however, find that extraordinary maturity is a virtue much promoted or much valued. The very fact that even theoretical criticism of her choices is considered to be "demonisation" is proof enough of that.

* Meanwhile, back in my own little middle-youth world, I am finding great comfort in the breaking of all the over-40s taboos. Don't have long hair over 40, they say. Don't wear jeans. Okay, if you have to wear jeans, they say, don't wear skinny jeans. Okay, if you have to wear skinny jeans, don't tuck them in your boots. No, I say to all that. I like it when men shout compliments from white vans. Especially the bit when they pull their horrified faces back into the vehicle, having copped the front view.

Green's chilling message

We all, it is claimed, love the rich now. All except me then. I find them comic. I love the fact that Philip Green, left, who just awarded himself a £1.2bn bonus, is called Philip Green, for example. Despite his wealth, his kind of green is the naive sort, not the environmental kind.

The chap is complaining that the financial results for his retail business are "flattish". "The bottom line is I can't sell coats in 24 degrees temperature," he complains, as if the flogging of a few scraps of wool and acrylic mix was all that was keeping the wolf from the door. "Give me some cold weather - we haven't had any winter at all yet."

Hmm. Maybe you'd better get the wife to ratchet down on her use of the £18m Gulfstream jet you got her as a present two years ago. Or maybe you should send the jet and the coats to Pakistan, where people are expected to die of cold in their tens of thousands. Global warming, it's called. You probably consider it as preposterous a myth as the one which suggests that upstanding citizens live in their own countries and pay their taxes like everyone else.

There's an art to throwing a good party

In London this week the contemporary art world has been partying hard. Turner Prize Shortlist on Monday, new Jake and Dinos Chapman show on Tuesday, the usual blizzard of smaller openings on Wednesday, the big private view and massive party for the Frieze art fair on Thursday, and my colleague Tracey Emin's book launch on Friday.

Many years ago, the novelist Gordon Burn told me that if I liked to party - and I did - I should stop hanging out with so many journalists or literary types and get into the art scene instead. Their dos, he told me, were just miles better. They really knew how to have a good time. He took me to a birthday celebration at a pub in Clerkenwell, where a nice young woman called Sam was serving behind the bar, and a woman with a lovely cleavage - called Tracey - explained how her boyfriend Carl was a genius art critic whom I ought to commission.

Wandering round the Frieze show this week, where Antony Gormleys jostled beside Antony Gormley and exquisite little Damien Hirsts had been created over his old letters, it was impossible not to be bowled over by the utter vastness of the strange, vast economy that these sociable young people made. The oddest thing though, is how little some things have changed. Sam Taylor-Wood, pictured, and the rest still love parties and they still have parties in the same pub. There's usually food now though, and some sort of live music. Sometimes I think the whole outrageous, fabulous, explosion of the London art scene was just about getting hold of the cash to jazz up the parties.