Tuesday, 7 August 2012


When I worked in an office, I was always surprised (and maybe a little annoyed) at how often new members of staff tried to solve problems without any attempt to look through the file and see what we did last time.  I liked the new, and sometimes creative, approach, but surely it doesn't hurt to see what the regular procedure was or what others had done earlier, before wasting a lot of time on a new policy.

But I wondered whether this was how the younger generation operate these days.  Unlike us, they left the family home early and made their way in the world much more independently than we did.  Or maybe this is another way of saying that Mums or one's elders are not such an important part of the household today. 
We were asked to pop down to Worthing this morning to help out my daughter.  Imogen has chicken pox and is not so happy and Isaac is at home too.  For us, it's actually nice to go there and take Isaac out for a while, so we were happy to do so, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in the children’s library and in the playgroup.  But I suppose, once upon a time, the family would still have been living in the family house and Mum would have been permanently on hand to look after kids.

I was reminded of this the other evening, when watching a wildlife programme on television.  Three young elephant females were trying to cross a swollen river and their three baby calves were swept away in the torrent.  All was well in the end, but the commentator made the point that, if there had been an older and more experienced female there (all killed by poachers I think), they would have found another crossing point known to be safer, or they would just not have attempted to cross at all.  Having Mum around is not always a nuisance; sometimes she serves a useful purpose and stops us doing stupid things into the bargain.
I have posted several comments recently about young people today and maybe the cases I mentioned all come down to this lack of parental guidance.  Somewhere along the line, the role of Mums has changed.  Once she was the wise one who one turned to for help and advice.  Now she is more likely to be as unwise as her kids and a bit of a burden if still in the house.  This is not a dismissive criticism, but people have just stopped turning to parents every time they need to do something.  And today’s parents have often lost that contact with their mothers too.  Just like those young recruits in my office, they just bash on and hope to get it right.  Or maybe even think that they know best.

So I for one am not at all critical of the new Government initiative‎.  It does seem an unusual policy for a Conservative Government (although the present Government is not entirely Conservative of course), but if it leads to more skill and experience among young parents, and thence to more responsibility among young people, it can only be good.  Ultimately, it could save a lost of wasted time and money in the police, NHS and local services generally too and, who knows, encourage better attention to education.  Let’s hope, like my elephants, they don’t forget.

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