parents with attitude

Standing up to Supernanny

Societas, (2009)

Standing up to Supernanny by Jennie Bristow unflinchingly challenges the cult of ‘parent-blaming’, in which parents are held directly responsible for everything from youth crime to the crisis in education.

Bristow explains that her principal motivation for writing the book ‘is to put an end to the “parent wars” that make bringing up children today so hard to do’. She says:

‘Books, websites and TV shows bombard us with advice about every aspect of bringing up children, and politicians blame us for everything they think we get wrong. This creates a terrible pressure on parents, and a conflict between us. Parents need to have faith in themselves and support each other, rather than competing over “parenting techniques” and trying to follow instructions from self-styled experts.’

The book further argues that:

- The official concerns and campaigns about children’s health, wellbeing and behaviour are massively overstated;
- Policymakers are blaming parents for a raft of social problems that have nothing to do with ‘good’ or ‘bad’ parenting;
- ‘Child-centred’ parenting culture is the result of adults’ own anxieties about behaving like grown-ups, and is damaging family life.

Standing up to Supernanny features contributions from academics, journalists and mothers involved in the contemporary parenting debate:

- Dr Val Gillies, reader at London South Bank University;
- Dr Helene Guldberg, author of Reclaiming Childhood: Freedom and play in an age of fear
- Christina Hardyment, author of Dream Babies: Childcare Advice from John Locke to Gina Ford;
- Jennifer Howze, editor of The Times‘s parenting blog Alpha Mummy;
- Tracey Jensen, doctoral student at the Open University;
- Dr Ellie Lee, lecturer in sociology at the University of Kent and co-ordinator of Parenting Culture Studies;
- Dr Jan MacVarish, Research Associate at the University of Kent;
- Nancy McDermott, a journalist based in New York;
- Jane Sandeman, convenor of the Institute of Ideas Parents’ Forum;
- Zoe Williams, columnist for The Guardian.

Standing up to Supernanny is published by Societas (Imprint Academic) on 16 September 2009.

Buy this book - and look inside it - at Amazon (UK).

Reviews and related articles:

Standing up to Supernanny. By Jennie Bristow. Early Times, Summer 2009 ET_Summer 2009.pdf.

Let’s stand up to ‘supernanny’. By Ann Furedi. spiked Review of Books, September 2009

Why we need to kick supernanny out of our living rooms. Helene Guldberg’s blog on Psychology Today, 27 September 2009

The perils of modern parenting - whatever happened to muddling through? By Marianne Kavanagh. Daily Telegraph, 3 October 2009

Call me a bad parent, I’ll still let my kids eat cake. By Jennie Bristow. Sunday Herald, 4 October 2009

The Parent Trap [.pdf] By David Clark. Kent Magazine, November 2009

‘The drift towards professional parenting must be resisted’. By Michael Fitzpatrick. Community Care, 25 November 2009

Review: Standing up to Supernanny. By Charlotte Goddard, online editor, Children & Young People Now, 26 November 2009

Review by Terry Philpot. Young Minds, December 2009. Young_Minds_2009.pdf.

The great myth of me-time By Jennie Bristow. The Times (London), 16 February 2010

Review by Brid Hehir, The Nursing Standard, 10 March 2010. Nursing_Standard_2010.pdf