Class differences are rife in parenting. For a start, you only call it 'parenting' if you earn over £20 grand a year and have money to invest in Keep Calm and Eat A Cupcake signs. Middle class mums pander to the every need of Millie, Francois and Hericlitus, following them about as they reach 'developmental milestones'. Meanwhile, the rest of the world drag their children around behind them while they argue into their Nokias, occasionally stopping to give them a well-deserved kick up the arse.
It's typically superior of the middle class to imagine they're doing things right and the underclass are ill-bred swines who create the devil's spawn. The middle-class mothering mafia might think they've got the edge with their tupperware and Ugg Boots, but just look at their progeny - flinging babyccinos around and running amok in art galleries, wiping snot on the Rothkos. Just because they have tangled hair and applique Boden tops with cute pirates on them doesn't mean they're not odious little shits. Meanwhile, if you're called Jayden and have a mini Celtic strip and an alcoholic Dad who owns a samurai sword, you're a menace to society. It's not fair.
It's time we stopped vilifying working-class children. Remember when David Cameron made all those speeches about Britain's families opening their curtains and going to work? Forget it. There's a lot to be said about not having a job and being around to look after your kids. Big families, lots of support, time to go to the park. So what if the baby's eating a Twix?
I think the middle-class and the working class need to work together and form a new wave of tolerant, enlightened parenting, which gets the balance right between over-attentive fawning and outright neglect. Working class people can teach the middle class to give their kids loads of sweets, put them on the bouncy castle and stop worrying so much. In turn, the middle class can teach them about dental health, Twitter and amusing Emma Bridgewater tea towels.
When this cross-cultural parenting is done right it's a joy. One of my heroes is a mother who wouldn't be seen dead fondling the heart-shaped silicon bakeware at John Lewis. My son has a friend at nursery who we'll call Lee. I invited him to my son's birthday party, and because I'm so hopelessly middle class I thought maybe she'd show up with him and hang around for a glass of wine. But no. Instead he turned up with his granny, who gave me a Toy Story bag, said: 'if he has any accidents, here's a spare pair of pants,' and fucked off. Three hours later, Lee's ma rocked up, hungover to buggery, with a lovebite the size of Canada.
And do you know what? Her son was the most charming and well-behaved boy at the party. Now THAT'S the way you do it.
8 months ago