The Madness of Modern Families

18 Dec

The ABC must be trying to prepare us for the Republic by reminding us how bloody dreadful Poms can be. They are inflicting on us at this moment a group of people who really should be rounded up and put out of their misery, aside from having a range of accents that just make me want to gag. Even worse is their shallowness and hideous values. The program I refer to is written up in the Daily Mail as Why posh parents are the pushiest. Indeed. Stay away from Australia, please! It’s bad enough here as it is.

And now a revealing new TV series, The Madness Of Modern Families, uncovers the tactics that middle-class parents are using to give their children a better start in life, or show off, or perhaps a bit of both.

In every programme of the series, which begins tonight, parents shamefully admit to such guerrilla child-rearing tactics as doing their children’s homework (right down to faking childish writing) and using surveyors’ instruments to measure out the distance between their home and a favoured school to try to convince the council they live in its catchment area.

If all else fails, renting a flat that is well within the catchment area for six months and pretending to live there is perfectly fine, it seems, in the cutthroat world of modern middle-class parenting.

Some of the stories the parents tell are funny, some embarrassing, some unbelievable – but all display a true form of madness, according to producer Madonna Benjamin, who was inspired to make the series after witnessing the antics of friends and neighbours of her and her lawyer husband in fashionable north London.

‘Normally sane people are doing these mad things because everyone else is doing them and they’re afraid of being left behind,’ she says. ‘Plus, it’s infectious and you get so close you totally lose perspective.

‘What fascinated me was that most parents wouldn’t dream of behaving like this in any other sphere of their lives, yet when it comes to their kids all sorts of irrational, deranged behaviour is acceptable.

‘Lots of parents in my neighbourhood, for example, are now quite open about going to church to get their kids into church schools.

‘They’ve all got tips on how best to be seen and noticed. But one non-Catholic family had the gall to go to the priest and tell him their little boy had a calling for the priesthood.’

This parental one-upmanship can be found in middle-class areas all over the country and begins even before their children are born.

It’s common practice in some circles to put unborn children’s names down for posh girls’ and boys’ schools before the expectant parents even know what sex the embryo is.

And it doesn’t raise many eyebrows when parents move into a middle- class area and deliberately get pregnant to enrol an embryo for a place at an over-subscribed private school, so that their children of school age can sneak places as siblings.

I found it all tragic rather than funny. Sorry about the “education” tag: not really relevant to this travesty is it?

If ever you wondered why the Teachers Federation has opposed education league tables, just watch this documentary.


However, Monarchy, covering that fascinating transition from Elizabeth I to James I — so funny at times, that segment, especially the bit about Scottish legs and buttocks — through Charles I, restored my faith in UK television and stirred my latent Anglophilia, not to mention my love of history. Great stuff.

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Posted by on December 18, 2007 in education, TV


4 responses to “The Madness of Modern Families

  1. Davo

    December 18, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    Testing .. Mary had a little lamb; the doctors were amazed ..

    Aha .. apologies for this comment – am trying to train a new computer to remember who I am and where have been ..errk!.

    Best Wishes for the Festive Season, Neil: may all your joys come to fruition.


  2. Davo

    December 18, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    O, now that am here .. perish the notion that the AMERICANS could possibly alter base level of Australian thought.

  3. Davo

    December 19, 2007 at 12:04 am

    Testing again .. shhesh, have to type everything back in again ..

  4. Davo

    December 19, 2007 at 12:26 am

    AH, hopefully have managed to get the specific language of the website ..
    which brings me back to the subject of “migrations”. A family has to leave much behind .. ancient traditions, old ways of thinking – when it “migrates”.

    Always a problem when the “old ways” encounter a Cultural tradition “older” than the imported “Old ways”.

    At his point am trying to figure out how to denude my new computer of much of the irrelevant “bloat” that belongs to Microsoft, but am an oldish basket, and not having much success.

    Once a “Family” is established, and exists for many years ain’t easy to discard the “bloat” .. heh.

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