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Why British politicians should keep parenting advice to themselves

The name and birth date of Will and Kate's baby may still be a mystery, but one thing is for sure: when the child is born, the couple will be at no loss for parenting advice – and not from the royal family, but from U.K. lawmakers.

British politicians in recent years have increasingly made it their business to opine on parenting matters, offering unsolicited thoughts – and sometimes controversial views – on everything from raising disabled children to preventing teenage pregnancy.

Just this week, the Tory party chairman proposed that unemployed couples should be discouraged from having a third child by cutting off child-related benefits after the second child, according to the Daily Mail.

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Also this week, the Tories announced a proposal aimed at reducing teen pregnancy, which would force teenage mothers to live with their parents or in "supervised hostel accommodation" in order to receive benefits.

And if both of these measures seem controversial, they're actually tame compared with some of the other parenting advice doled out recently by British politicians.

A few months ago, U.K. police launched an investigation into a Cornwall councillor who argued that disabled babies should be "put down" to save taxpayers money. "If [farmers] have a misshapen lamb, they get rid of it. They get rid of it. Bang!" he reportedly said in an interview.

And a Tory MP came under fire earlier this year for arguing against gay couples having children, saying they "clearly" cannot provide "a warm and safe environment" for kids.

And even the most careful parents are doing it wrong, at least according to Tory MP Claire Perry. In an interview, she argued that U.K. children are being "babied a lot," and that parents – especially mothers – are guilty of over-programming their kids. She also offered her thoughts on how parents are, in general, failing to adequately protect their children from dangers on the Internet.

If all of this has you thinking that politicians should just butt out, you're not alone.

At least one parenting expert responded to tell Perry and other lawmakers to focus on their own jobs.

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Parents are "doing their best," and honestly, "knackered most of the time," Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts told the BBC.

"Politicians could more usefully perhaps focus on improving local schools, job prospects, childcare options and flexible work solutions than telling us how to be better parents."

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About the Author
National Food Reporter

Ann Hui is the national food reporter at The Globe and Mail. Previously, she worked as a national reporter and homepage editor for and an online editor in News. More


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