I was asked to appear on BBC Radio London this morning discussing this article in the Daily Mail by Sarah Vine ( wife to Michael Gove.)
Now I’m not a fan of the usually very judgemental tone of the Daily Mail but I really found Sarah’s honesty quite thought provoking.
This article comes on the back of Esther Rantzen, founder of Childline, comments the other day when she wrote an article outlining in stark terms the psychological repercussions on children of having both parents who work.
Take a read and let me know what you think.
Sometimes in life you just have to smash the glass and pull the emergency brake, even if it means incurring the wrath of some of your fellow passengers.
That is precisely what Esther Rantzen, founder of Childline, did the other day when she wrote an article outlining in stark terms the psychological repercussions on children of having both parents who work.
‘Time is the greatest gift we can give our own children, yet in Britain today it is the scarcest resource we have, especially for working parents,’ she said.
‘These days most parents work, often long hours,’ she continued. ‘I remember speaking to a teenage boy who was suffering very serious problems. I suggested to him his mother would want to know.
‘He replied: “When she gets home from work she’s so tired she can’t talk to me.” I asked if the weekends might give them the chance to talk. “She works in a shop,” he told me. “She never has a day off.” ’
I don’t imagine Rantzen’s comments will have won her many fans among hardline feminists. But her concerns bear serious consideration. After all, her experience in the field of troubled children is unique.
Childline is 30 years old, the first initiative of its kind — a dedicated service for children where, free from adult influence, they can talk openly and honestly about their problems. It is perfectly placed to have an unbiased view of what troubles them and of the cause of those troubles.
Barely a week seems to go by without another report claiming rising levels of anxiety and depression among young people. And unlike when Childline began, these feelings are not so much triggered by abuse or neglect (although that still happens far too often) but rather a generalised sense of unease and worry.
So what’s causing this?
According to the experts at Childine, there are a number of factors at play, not least the impact of the internet and social media on the developing mind.
But there is something else, too, a far less headline-grabbing but in many ways more complex problem: parental absence and, in particular, the absence of a mother figure.
A loving, nurturing, caring person in their lives, someone to set boundaries, lend structure, provide support and encouragement — and create a calm, safe environment in which they can flourish.