The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Madness’ grips modern parents

London, Nov. 6 (Reuters): Britain’s middle classes are in the grip of a new madness, says author Meg Sanders — parenting madness.

Desperate to excel in every field, normally sensible, well-educated parents are resorting to increasingly insane measures to outdo other families and give their offspring the edge.

From mothers who secretly train at home for the grown-ups’ egg-and-spoon race on school sports day, to those who follow the school bus on its trip to France in case any harm might come to their offspring, parents are taking it to the extreme.

Sanders and fellow author Annie Ashworth have brought out a book — The Madness of Modern Families — which they hope will encourage the worst offenders to take a step back and laugh at their own sometimes ridiculous behaviour.

The book tells of parents who play foreign radio stations in childrens’ bedrooms so they can learn languages in their sleep, mothers who buy supermarket cakes and “distress” them to make them look home-baked and fathers who forge their children’s homework and include “authentic” errors to make it look real.

“I’ve spent nights sort of rubbing out her times table and rewriting them and trying to recreate her handwriting, and getting the five round the wrong way and stuff,” one father confesses. “And you think: What am I doing, what am I doing'”

British parents are not alone. In the US, some middle class parents have long been prepared to do whatever it takes to give their children an edge that can lead to better marks, better colleges and a better future.

“As parents we are bombarded with information — and a lot of it is contradictory — so we no longer know what to think,” Sanders said. “Parents are coming in for a lot of blame at the moment, and that’s just making us more and more neurotic.”

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