Who's Fit to Be a Parent?

By Mukti Jain Campion | Go to book overview

16

Key themes from Part II
This examination of parents who are labelled deviant lays bare the cultural values of current western society and acts as a barometer of how those values have been shifting in recent times. What quickly becomes apparent when these groups are put side by side is that they are labelled on the basis of a single trait which is not the most significant one in relation to their parenting behaviours but which often becomes the main axis around which all assessment revolves. The arguments against most of them come down to the notions that both society and their children will suffer because a) the parents show a particular deviant trait, and b) they might become dependent on the state.
Why can't they be more like us? The pre-eminence of middle-class values
Throughout Part I it became clear that those of a lower socioeconomic status are scrutinised more by professionals with regard to their parenting and are more likely to be found wanting. In Part II I looked at many of the groups that are deemed unsuitable as parents and found that the majority fall outside the middle classes. It is significant that those from the middle class who display the deviant trait such as being gay, black, disabled, single or working mothers do not face the same stigmatisation as those from the lower classes.As more of the middle classes enter the 'deviant' groups, they are beginning to openly question the assumptions that negate or devalue their own experiences with regard to their children and the stigmatisation is falling away. This is not the case for those groups which have not yet been colonised by the middle classes (e.g. parents with learning difficulties and middle-class parents are mutually exclusive by virtue of the distinguishing criteria: learning and intelligence and professional status).If we look at the recurring characteristics of what is deemed necessary for fit parenting, i.e.:
• physical fitness
• education-in particular a shared knowledge base
• choice and control over one's life
• secure employment

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Who's Fit to Be a Parent?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Parents on Trial 5
  • 1 - The State Versus Parents 7
  • 2 - Other People's Children 38
  • 3 - Parents Apart 63
  • 4 - Playing God 96
  • 5 - Key Themes from Part I 117
  • Part II - Parents on the Edge 129
  • 6 - Disabled Parents 133
  • 7 - Mentally Handicapped Parents 151
  • 8 - Drug Addicted Mothers 168
  • 9 - Gay Parents 177
  • 10 - Teenage Mothers 189
  • 11 - Older Mothers 197
  • 12 - Single Mothers 205
  • 13 - Lone Fathers 217
  • 14 - Working Mothers 225
  • 15 - Black Parents 239
  • 16 - Key Themes from Part II 261
  • Part III - The Job Description 269
  • 17 - The Ideal Model and the Actual Model of Fit Parenting 271
  • 18 - Implications of the Actual Model of Fit Parenting to Assessment 281
  • 19 - Looking Forward 300
  • Bibliography 303
  • Index 309
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