Saturday, October 18, 2008

British columnist critical of American parenting style

An article in The Times today by the columnist Janice Turner, is guaranteed to provoke lots of attention and response. Granted she is writing it with a deliberate slant and a title designed to grab attention but her focus on American parenting style is so negative and filled with hate that it makes my blood boil. How American motherhood ruined my life We've been set impossibly high standards when it comes to raising children. What's wrong with benign British neglect? I have news for Janice Turner. Despite what she may think, not all American parents are emulating Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow! We don't want to be like them, nor do we expect everyone else to. Their (rich) lifestyle certainly does not represent the parenting style of all American parents! We are not all movie stars, or wealthy or obsessed with 'supercharged motherhood' and I take offense with her very anti-American view that, 'Of all the nationalities in London, none provokes such domestic irritation.' Charming! (not) And I think she is really going too far with this view: Visiting children can't eat what I've cooked because they're “'lergic”. Maybe we've bred a generation of lactose-intolerant ninnies or maybe we've fallen for an American tendency to hyper- medicalise the slightest ailment. There are a lot of children (of all nationalities) with genuine allergies and food sensitivities which are real health issues, and not to be sneered at. Anyway, the British are not such perfect parents. The serious problem with binge drinking and anti-social behavior from teenagers and even younger children has to be seen to be believed. Where are their parents? Oh yeah, that's what she means by 'benign British neglect' - which isn't actually so benign is it? My (English) husband read the article and he was disgusted too. We both think the columnist had to come up with an article and she obviously thought ranting about the American parenting style was a good topic. It's controversial enough to stir things up and get attention but "safe" because it's easier to pick on the Americans rather than other nationalities. I am so sick of this ranting against Americans, especially in the British press. Enough, already! Oh, and before someone suggests it was probably meant to be funny with tongue-in-cheek British humour, I don't buy it. That's just a convenient excuse to get away with mocking Americans. Are you an American parent in Britain? What are your thoughts about the article?


  1. Idiots like that are best ignored.

    Don't give them wider publicity or even waste your precious time on them, they are just not worth it.

  2. You are right of course but I just couldn't stop myself from posting about an article that presents such an anti-American slant.

  3. I will go and read this when I get five mins (busy a being a good parent!) but it sounds to me like she's just jumping on the bandwagon to have a dig at current head line providers such as Madonna. And anyway what do any of us really know about Madonna or how she brings up her kids?!
    I'm English and every time I've been to the states I've seen so many great examples of parenting there - far better than most of the screaming supermarket parents you come across in this country! The big difference I noted on a first trip some years ago before I was even thinking about becoming a parent, is that they actually talk to their kids and bother to explain stuff... and listen when they talk back! Some people are surprised at the conversations we can now have with our three and a half year old daughter but it's because I always chatted with her from the minute she was born!
    Generalisation and judgement are two nasty words but unfortunately, two that seem to go hand in hand with (some!) media publications/journalists!
    But it bought me to your blog so it can't be all bad!

  4. Hello that girl, I appreciate you taking a moment to leave a comment on this particular thread.

    Thank you for defending the American parenting style. You have pointed out one of the biggest differences and I agree. I think American parents do spend more time talking and listening to their children.

  5. I'm a British parent in America, and guess what? (and this isn't rocket science). There are a lot of parents in Britain. There are even more parents in America. I don't think you can generalise about whole nations of parents.

  6. Very true, Iota but what really riled me about the article was the provocative headline and the dig at American parents. The whole article was just an excuse to demonstrate anti-American views. It was particularly galling to read: 'Of all the nationalities in London, none provokes such domestic irritation.' I think ranting about the American parenting style was just a pathetic excuse to rant about Americans generally and to grab readers with the preposterous headline.