Family time hit by ‘must-have’ culture

Family time is being squeezed by a ‘must-have’ culture which lavishes kids with the latest gizmos, a leading headmaster warns today.

He is also worried that children spend too much time at after-school clubs rather than with their families.

Graham Gorton, chairman of the Independent Schools Association will say in a speech today that parents believe they are “failing” if they don’t sign their children up for lots of activities and buy them the latest gadgets.

But Mr Gorton believes that families should treasure and nurture family time.


Mr Gorton, in an address to the Association’s annual conference, will warn: “Over recent decades we seem to have created a ‘must-have’ culture amongst our young people.

“Many see that they may be perceived to be failing as parents if they do not ensure that their children have the latest gadgets and electronic devices along with their peers.”

He is to say that some children are so overburdened with “organised” and “structured” clubs that they struggle to do homework.

Mr Gorton will say children like their own company and should be allowed the opportunity to just “mooch about in the garden”.


He is to add: “Many parents also, I suspect, feel pressured to enrol their offspring into every conceivable club or after-school activity that is available, including through the weekends.”

“Long gone, it seems, are those times when a whole weekend ahead with nothing planned was seen as a luxury and a perfect opportunity to spend time together and share those valuable and irreplaceable moments of childhood,” he will say.

Mr Gorton will add: “As a child I only once ever uttered that phrase that parents dread – ‘I’m bored’.

“Immediately my mother sprang into action and produced a list of jobs as long as your arm and then insisted that I completed every one of them.”


“After that, I was very happy to always keep myself entertained, as mopping all the floors and cleaning out the chicken shed was not exactly what I had in mind as a way of curbing my boredom”, he is due to add.

In February a bestselling American book came to the UK which said parents who want to raise happy and successful children need to prioritise their marriages not their children.

To Raise Happy Kids Put Your Marriage First’s author David Code said: “Today’s number one myth about parenting is that the more attention we give our kids, the better they’ll turn out.

“But we parents have gone too far: our over-focus on our children is doing them more harm than good”.

Tough love

At the end of last year a major study concluded that children who receive ‘tough love’– a combination of warmth and discipline – from their parents have the best chance of doing well in life.

The study found that parenting style, not economic background, is the most important factor in determining a child’s development of positive qualities such as self-control, empathy and determination.

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