Who's Fit to Be a Parent?

By Mukti Jain Campion | Go to book overview

Part III

The job description

In this final part of the book I would like to attempt to put together the pieces of the jigsaw acquired in Parts I and II. A picture of what it is to be a fit parent in contemporary British society should thus emerge which may enable us to see if a job description could be drawn up to describe what a fit parent is supposed to do.

As we have seen, there are currently two models of fit parents implicit in the values of society and the criteria of those professionals involved in assessing parents. These are what I have termed the Ideal and the Actual. The Ideal Model appears to represent the values that society and professionals ascribe to how they believe most 'traditional' parents once were and how many would wish all modern parents to be. The Actual Model is the emerging reality based on the actual experiences of parents who do not conform to the Ideal Model as well as on more recent professional views and academic research concerning children's development in different family situations.

The examination of how parents are assessed has revealed as much about the relationship between parents and society as about the relationship of parents and children. I have therefore assembled the criteria in groups which relate to parents, parents in relationship to their children and parents in relationship to society. ('Society' is the term I have chosen to represent the totality of the influences outside the parent-child unit which determine the physical and social environment in which parents bring up their children-this includes the state, e.g. through its economic, education, welfare, employment, housing, transport policies; professional expertise; science and technology; religion; peer groups; the workplace; the media; and the local community of friends, neighbours and family services.)

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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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