This leads on to the next big problem in Bousted’s eyes: parents wanting to be liked rather than respected. “When my parents had children, the job of a parent was to ensure your child was good. Then came all the work on child psychology, that led to all the books on parenting, some of which went to the extreme that all needs of the child should be met immediately.
“Today’s parents don’t just want their child to be good, they want them to be happy, and they want to be liked. When I was training teachers, in my first seminar, I would say to the room, if you want to be liked all the time, please leave now. Your job is not to be a friend, but a teacher.
“The same is true of parents. If you want your child to be happy, and because of that overwhelming desire you give in to them, it’s a facade of happiness, because you are unhappy to be giving in, and they are not happy as they never get enough of what they want. It happens — for all the best reasons — far too often.”
What is her best piece of advice for parents? “As a parent you are not your child’s best friend. They will grow up and make their own best friends. As a parent your job is much more serious than that. Your job is to show by example and through the exercise of proper authority how to grow up.”
“Parents are under tremendous pressure to provide for their children. Resisting that can be very wearing, I know myself. I understand, I’m guilty of it myself. The sulks, the rages, the tantrums; it is very hard.
“But we have gone too far in the belief that if a child asks for something they must need it, and if they demand something they must have it. That all rules are negotiable and that children know what’s best for themselves in the long run.
“Some children arrive at school unable to realise that they may sometimes have to do things they don’t want to do. One of the most important skills parents can teach children is the deferral of gratification.