Letter: Failing our children

Sir: Trevor Phillips is right to place blame on parents for truanting, youth crime, and so on (article, 27 September). But why do parents so often fail their children? And why do the children display the aggressive and bullying behaviour that he recorded?

The fact is that the preceding generation of parents also failed their children, though perhaps in different ways from today. For example, my mother-in-law professes surprise at the way in which we show affection to our children, cuddle them and tell them that they are lovely. In her day, this would have been condemned as spoiling them. Is it any wonder then, that so many of our generation suffer from a damaging lack of self- confidence?

Do parents who lack confidence in themselves therefore have trouble in parenting appropriately themselves? Do they make up for their perceived deficiencies by being autocratic, or overly liberal? It is widely accepted that a crucial element of good parenting is knowing how to set appropriate boundaries - letting children know what is acceptable and what is not, and being able to stick by that in the face of their opposition. It is interesting to view the relief on children's faces when they lose some of these arguments.

Let us move beyond the remedial action towards bad parents that Trevor Phillips suggests, to preventive action - putting effort not just into developing our children's intellectual intelligence but also their emotional intelligence.


Charlbury, Oxfordshire