One of the prominent narratives in society in recent years concerns the idea that women are falling behind and treated unfairly in the classroom and the workplace. An example of this is the annual “Equal Pay Day,” which highlights the gap in earnings between women and men.
But while the plight of women often receives the most publicity, there is growing consciousness of the difficulties men and boys encounter in life. These include a disadvantage in educational attainment and a decline in wages.
A lot of ink has been spilled to explain these trends, including the elimination of physical movement and activities in which boys tend to excel from schools.
But according to U.K. education expert Barnaby Lenon, there’s another reason why boys are failing, namely, friendship parenting. The Daily Mail explains:
“Former Harrow School headmaster Mr Lenon argued in a new book that much of the fault for the failure of boys lies in the family – in particular with fathers’ attitudes. He said boys were more likely to fail at school by getting into trouble, or through rudeness, poor discipline or lack of motivation.
‘Authority has been transferred from parents to children in the last 50 years and boys are paying the price,’ he added. ‘Sometimes dads are trying too hard to be boys’ best friends. Because boys particularly need firm discipline, they have become more disadvantaged.’”
Lenon goes on to state:
“‘Boys need disciplining by schools and parents. They need it and they can take it.’”
Such an approach to parenting is rather uncommon these days – for both boys and girls. Laying down the law, it is argued, damages a child’s self-esteem and hinders his or her ability to explore creative potential. Better to be a gentle guide on the side, encouraging children to follow their hearts and be there to support, comfort, and help them avoid failure.
But is it possible that Lenon is correct? Instead of stifling creativity and giving children an inferiority complex for life, do boundaries and an established authority structure give children the opportunities they need in order to focus and excel?
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.