So this morning we all woke up to find out that a so-called think tank has concluded that playing, reading, and feeding our children healthy food represents good parenting. Ministers are already concluding that this research points the way forward to healthier children. There is even talk of having a 5-a-day good parenting logo being deployed in nursery schools and elsewhere.
Can’t you just hear the collective sigh of #DUR resonating from parents up and down the UK?!
I listened to the Radio 4 debate this morning and thought for a minute we were back in the days of New Labour. I stopped what I was doing to listen to what I guessed would be the inevitable appointment of a Parenting Tsar supported by a new, all-encompassing Quango with the task of delivering measurable and attainable targets…! The heart sinks at what will come next…
So, before we go down this route I wanted to offer the Government an alternative five-point plan. As a single parent of two girls this stuff matters to me personally. OnlyDads is not a think-tank - so what follows comes from the heart. It is about asking our Government to deliver on things that they should be doing, and not patronising parents:
This is my DRAFT letter to David Camerron.
Dear Prime Minister,
I want to share with you some thoughts on how the Government can provide the best possible platform for us parents to raise healthy children.
- The Olympics will be over and done with in one year’s time. We will have spent 9 Billion pounds (that’s billion, not million) on stadia for elite athletes. There will then follow endless talk of delivering the “legacy”. My advice is keep Lord Coe in his job to ensure that over the next ten years every school in the UK has sporting facilities that are the envy of the world. That may mean buying (back) playing fields, hiring extra staff, and ensuring equipment is all top-notch. I am sure the existing Olympic Committee are adept by now at securing commercial sponsorship…keep them in their job too. It is not too much to expect every school to have state of the art gyms and sports halls. And when they have, keep them all open at all times for community use.
- There is much talk about public libraries at the moment. I’m the first to say that there is something all a little bit sad about some libraries I visit. Shelf after shelf of big-print Agatha Christie’s, a couple of aged PCs and a photocopiers that you need tokens for, and a church-warden for a librarian. That said, every community NEEDS a library – but they need to be interactive and fun. Every Librarian should be buzzing – more Benjamin Zephaniah than Trollope. I would encourage you to think about enhancing school libraries – places staffed by media graduates, open every evening, places where mums and dads can engage in reading and IT projects with their children; where tuition and help and support is readily available. And where talking is encouraged!
- As a Father of mixed-raced daughters, I want them to grow up in a country that shouts its liberal approach to multiculturalism from the roof tops. We have in the UK benefitted both from the Enlightenment and a hundred plus years of feminist thinking. I bring my daughters up to believe that they can do anything they want to. But still, when I view the Government I see way too many privileged white men. We had all of this debate during the expenses row. When are we going to get a House of Commons (and more especially a Government) that truly represents the British People? The benefits such a move would bring to our children will be enormous. It will display once and for all that “normal” people really can succeed. It will breed optimism and a real sense of ongoing fairness in our society.
- (and this may come as a shock) but EVERY parent in the land knows that a rocket, fennel, watercress and pear starter, before moving onto line-caught red mullet with fresh cabbage, all washed down with a glass of chilled Cranberry juice is good for us and our children. So the question is, why do vast numbers of us, decide instead, to eat stodge and get wankered on Jacob’s Creek every night?! The answers will be complex, but will definitely NOT include Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall coming on to our television extolling the qualities of buying organic. If it would help I’m sure OnlyDads and OnlyMums could pull together a small delegation of single parents and others on a tight budget to help the Government begin to answer these difficult issues.
- Apart from the physical and educational health of our children, I believe the Government can also play its part in delivering a country with good moral leadership. Let’s be straight. A country that deals in truth not lies or half-truths. I was watching some television coverage with Priya (14) just before the parliamentary recess. The questions being put to you were “did you, at any of the (26) meetings you had with News International staff, ever discuss the BSkyB bid” Your reply of “I did not have any inappropriate conversations” confused Priya! Let’s just say it really saddened me to have to explain to Priya, in these her formative years, the concept of our Prime Minister being “economical with the truth”. After being promised “a new politics” this spectacle really didn’t feel good enough! A straight “yes or no” would have so much better!
I suppose what I am trying to say is that rather than try to get into our living rooms and micro-manage us, the Government would be best employed ensuring that the true values of the British People are given proper representation in Parliament and that moving forward, they concentrate of giving us an up-beat vision for our wonderful country and the basic infrastructure to make it a reality.
As I say – it’s a draft letter, and would appreciate hearing your views as to whether it should be sent!