by Aric Sigman
Dr Sigman, Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, is a hands-on father of four willing to speak out about how he feels our children are being neglected. They are spoiled in ways which go beyond materialism, he writes, and are given so little in the way of boundaries and authority that they’re being robbed of the basic supporting structures they need to thrive.
Tackling difficult issues like children’s sense of entitlement, screen-based media, parental guilt and the compensation culture, Sigman examines why our children, some of the wealthiest in the world, suffer high rates of depression, under age pregnancy, obesity and alcoholism.
Sigman devotes a chapter to Delegated Parenting, storming through acceptable attitudes towards child-care and ‘flexible’ working to demonstrate the vested interest of the market in playing down differences between men and women. “Society has been celebrating the liberation of woman from her own evolutionary history instead of her unique, inherent, un-rivalled power in advancing her child’s well-being,” he says, “Motherhood is an incomparable responsibility carried out by a gender with awe-inspiring qualities.”
His study is readable, and well referenced, and a refreshing encouragement for parenting to be a job returned to parents, not something subject to political fashion. “Have we become so self-centred,” he asks, “that a truthful discussion is too dangerous, even when it involves the best interests of our own children?”
Throughout the book he offers clear, practical messages to parents, grandparents, teachers and policy makers as to how we can redress the status-quo, redefine our roles and cultivate better behaved, happier children. In his chapter on delegated parenting he asks that governments make parents everywhere aware of the difference between sending their child to a daycare centre at the age of six months as opposed to the age of three, and their three year old going to daycare for nine hours a week as opposed to thirty five. This is the sort of advice policy makers focussed on the economy are often reluctant to give.