How to be a 'New Old-fashioned Parent'
Fed up with noisy children spoiling her coffee, Liat Hughes Joshi began to wonder how previous generations tackled the problem – and the concept of New Old-fashioned Parenting was born
By Liat Hughes Joshi
For the third time in a week, my attempts at a vaguely peaceful coffee out are being thwarted by small children running around noisily, irritating everyone else. Everyone except their parents, who seem oblivious to anything beyond their lattes and chat.
Watching, listening to and indeed being elbowed in the thigh by these little tornado-like beings highlights to me again how very far we’ve come from the days of children being “seen and not heard”.
I’m no “youth of today” whinger, nor do I sport rose-tinted spectacles about the strictures of childhoods past, but what happened to there being a time and a place to hurtle about squealing? The park or soft-play centre, the confines of your own (hopefully reasonably soundproofed) home: yes. Restaurants, busy railway stations and shops: surely not?
There’s something broader happening here than me grumbling about not being able to enjoy a quiet-ish coffee. The nature of childhood has changed remarkably over just a generation.
Plenty of our young remain well-balanced and generally delightful, but ask any teacher or lecturer – as I did when I started researching my book, New Old-fashioned Parenting – and they may well tell you about the increasing numbers of children with behavioural problems (that aren’t due to an underlying condition), or an inbuilt sense of entitlement, and the many more who seem to have never outgrown that mini-narcissist stage. The latter might be natural for toddlers but becomes problematic when you’re still saying “me, me, me” at 21...