Thursday, 05, Nov 2009 08:48
Published by Piatkus Books, out now, paperback, 208pp, £12.99.
In a nutshell...
Parents need to learn to say ‘no’
What's it all about?
Many households in today’s society have two parents at work. This decade has seen the highest proportion of single households in Britain. The knock-on effect is children are often left to fend for themselves, with time-poor parents struggling to attend to their needs. Kids are therefore increasingly turning to TV and their own peer groups to satisfy their needs.
Dr Aric Sigman believes that a growing lack of adult authority has led to a 'spoilt generation' of children who believe grown-ups must earn their respect. Spanning the class divide it leads to problems ranging from obesity to teenage pregnancy, he explains. The lack of discipline in classrooms is well-documented, due to children of this generation becoming used to having their demands met by people in authority. The solution? For adults to get tough and assert their authority again, without question.
Who's it by?
In his press biography Dr Sigman would like you to know that he leads by example. He cooks from scratch seven days a week, does the washing up by hand and walks his children to school. Such forthright views on parenting are popular enough to have made him a fixture on daytime television and radio.
He does however have the academic credentials to back this up. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, he writes a Brain and Behaviour column for the Times Educational Supplement.
As an example...
Dr Sigman is not afraid to stoke the fires of debate by taking a stance. His manifesto is as follows:
"Children of the spoilt generation are used to having their demands met by their parents and others in authority, and that in turn makes them unprepared for the realities of adult life.
"There is now an urgent moral and legal imperative incumbent upon legislators to help restore authority to children's lives. Adults must be legally empowered to deal with both their own and other people's children without the fear that they may be confronted or prosecuted for doing so."
Likelihood of becoming a Hollywood blockbuster
As a non-fiction manual for parenting there is little here to inspire the dreamers of Hollywood. Spend twenty seconds Googling the title however and you will find it has received enormous coverage from some unusual sources. One minute it is being discussed by the BBC, the next it is being championed by splinter pressure group Real Fathers 4 Justice.
What the others say
Reviews have been in the main positive, congratulating him for his boldness of vision. I think he's hit the nail on the head," is the praise from Dr Miriam Stoppard writing in the Daily Mirror. Jane Alexander of the Telegraph also praises his directness, commenting "Dr Aric Sigman doesn't pull his punches".
So is it any good?
Last month a 15-year-old boy made headlines across Britain after being suspended for refusing to stand when the headmaster entered the room. Rather than remonstrate with his son the father fully supported him, saying that the new headmaster "had yet to earn his respect".
It is this example of child parenting which bothers Dr Aric Sigman and which he tackles in The Spoilt Generation. In first chapter Little Emperors: Their Rise To The Throne, Dr Sigman believes the way we parent used to be intuitive but has now become the subject of political fashion. The result? A generation of children spoiled far beyond materialism.
It takes Sigman precious little time to get stuck into the solutions. He deplores the reluctance of adults to exert authority, and reintroduces the concept of saying "no" and facing the unpleasantness that goes with it.
So far, so obvious perhaps. Yet his views range into areas which may make some uncomfortable. As part of the drive for authority, Dr Sigman is open to the idea of smacking in the context of a loving family. He also believes that ADHD is often diagnosed wrongly in children who simply have been brought up badly.
As a work guaranteed to ruffle feathers the book has helped Dr Sigman rapidly move from fame to notoriety. As a result it suffers slightly from being more of a manifesto than an analysis. However The Spoilt Generation is refreshing for its unashamed promotion of old-fashioned parenting.