Who's Fit to Be a Parent?

By Mukti Jain Campion | Go to book overview

19

Looking forward

As I hope this book has shown, the 'new types' of parents may pose a challenge to traditional models of family life but they also offer a new range of options on how to care for children and how alternative economic units of western society may function. If the industrial revolution heralded standardisation and conformity, then post-industrial societies may yet witness a celebration of individuality and variety. As we move away from needing workers who are allocated lifelong jobs fulfilling uniform roles on a production line and instead increasingly call upon the intellectual and creative resources of the individuals in our society to produce the wealth of the nation, the new family styles may actually be more suited to the needs of the state.

If we wish to address the financial and social spiralling of costs we have to be imaginative in looking at how to make the new models work well, not just to bemoan the passing of an outdated model. It is not a matter of whether one model was better than another but that evolution and change are inevitable, bringing good and bad outcomes which need to be accommodated.

The essential issue is one of what I have termed congruity. The reason why the 1950s were seen as such a golden era for family life was not because there were less single, teenage or working mothers, but because everything was pulling in the same direction: the perceived needs of children, parents and society were all complementary. The state of the nation, the policies of government and professionals, the state's requirement for certain types of workers, the childcare beliefs and women's role, the lack of media contradicting the dominant ideologies of parents or state-all reinforced each other to promote the nuclear family. It is easy to look back with nostalgia and say if only we could push women back into the home, strengthen the Church, stifle the media-we could go back to order and social morality.

But that is not only not possible-it would be unacceptable for the vast majority of people who have struggled to shake off the oppressive shackles of conformity. Here then is the crux: what we need to do is to find a way of realigning on a different plane to achieve a similar congruity but this time on the basis of a different set of knowledge and values.

If we look at the Actual Model we see a lot of incongruities-between what the knowledge base is telling us about children and parents needing to be seen in terms

-300-

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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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