An MP has apologised after making reference to the childlessness of the former Children and Families Minister Sarah Teather. The remarks made by by fellow MP Tim Loughton who served alongside Sarah at the Department for Education were widely condemned as offensive and subsequently he was quick to apologise and said he had not intended to criticise the former minister personally. But it did raise the point of why some people question non-parents' ability to give advice about children?
The parenting website Mumsnet recently debated the issue of "advice from childless friends" and it was found that to many this advice was largely unwelcome. One person posted on the site "I mean honestly do you actually believe those 4 hours that you have cared for a child equate to the harsh reality of parenting?" and another added: "Unless you are a parent you can't possibly have any concept of what parenting is like," added another. The general consensus from the chat room debate seemed to be that advice on how to raise children from those have haven’t had any of their own was worth less than those who have.
But take Jo Frost for example, television’s Supernanny, she has no children herself, though she has worked in childcare since 1989. Nor does the controversial parenting guru Gina Ford have any offspring, yet her parenting books are said to account for 25% of the entire market.
It can often be the case that a child-free people have not chosen their child-free status, and find fulfilment working with or caring for other people's children. Others may have decided to have children later in life, or not at all, but this doesn’t mean they are not capable of caring for a baby or offering parents some help. Nonetheless, it's undeniable that many parents don't like being told what to do by people who have never changed a nappy or been kept awake by a crying baby.
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