Watching your parents do their own thing not only forces you to face and tackle boredom, it inspires you to perhaps try out for yourself what's interesting them so much. We've no heroes these days, really, apart from ready-made 'reality' stars, catapulted into fame with no hard work behind them. What on Earth are we teaching our little ones?
Jake was six when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. About to start chemo and therefore about to see my appearance dramatically alter I knew I had no choice but to try and explain to him in simple, non scary terms what was happening. "Mummy's got a nasty lump," I said as we sat together in the kitchen one sunny afternoon.
Defining children according to wealth or merit in specific subjects sits very uncomfortably with me. What about supporting kids' interests, building on enthusiasm? What about maintaining friendships between kids of different social backgrounds rather than keeping them in separate worlds? Isn't it heartbreaking when children are separated from their best friends...
In an ideal world, nobody would need to be adopted, but this is not an ideal world. Adoption parties cannot prevent a child being taken into care, but they can help take them out of care. They give 'hard-to-place' children a greater chance of placement. They tackle some endemic problems in the adoption process.
Yes, as the UK government's paper so aptly calls it 'Basically...Porn is Everywhere'. Pornography is about sex and nudity which, whether you like it or not, is a fundamental part of our being. It is also regulated and legal in the UK (that's another issue). So when it comes to protecting our children's welfare we need to address the issue of pornography in an adult way.
The reality is that most parents just want their children to fit in, to be socially acceptable, thrive at school and yes, be 'normal'. The idea that any difficulties might be due to a labelled syndrome, or 'special needs', is a frightening prospect for most. So, how can you tell if your child is 'normal'?
We know that reading is challenged but there are families in which it still thrives. Our longitudinal study, Reading Street, aims to understand the changing world of children's reading for pleasure. It follows twelve UK families plus a wider number of parents, children and teachers and releases the findings in theme focused chapters.
24 hours after a birth fraught with complications, we were told that the medical professionals thought Seb had Down's syndrome. What should have been the happiest day of my life was the worst. For Simon, my husband, it was very different. He accepted the diagnosis from day one and through all my tears and heartbreak he constantly reassured me that we would cope.
Frustration is a word that all parents are very familiar with and being a paragon of patience and cuddly understanding on days like these can stretch that word to its fullest. It is also on days like these that I am just grateful that I can keep smiling and not end up rocking backwards and forwards while sobbing in the corner.
I hear all the time that the woman has chosen to stay at home and look after the children, while the man has chosen to go to work. Given all these overt and subtle pressures, I wonder whether these are really free choices at all. The only solution is for men to actively take up the mantle of childcare, right from the very earliest days of our children's life.
We already know the causes of teenage pregnancy and, yet, the UK is following the US's path with parents demanding the right to prevent their children learning about real sexual education. The destruction of the welfare state and universal healthcare is already having serious detrimental effects on families