Letter:Break the taboo on teaching parents how to do better

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Sir: Jack O'Sullivan should have read our discussion document Parenting before writing about Labour's approach to the subject ("Back to school for mum and dad", 14 November). We made many of the points he accused us of neglecting.

There is a taboo on public discussion of parenting which needs to be broken. We want to encourage a wider debate. There is more advice about car and pet care than about bringing up children. We are bombarded with information about sexual relationships, but scant attention is given to the product of those relationships - children.

We do not pretend to have all the answers, nor have we clambered into the pulpit to preach. But parenting is both a tough and an important job, which when done badly has serious consequences for everyone - not least the child.

We need to be clearer about the responsibilities that parenting brings; to give a higher priority to information, local help and support for parents; to find a better balance between parenting and work; to improve nursery education and early-years child care; to encourage ideas to help children in state care; and to tackle parenting problems, particularly where children are involved in offending behaviour.

Our document will hopefully contribute to wider-ranging and serious debate about what is, after all, the most important task any of us ever undertakes.


(Blackburn, Lab)

Shadow Home Secretary

House of Commons