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Forthcoming Events

IoI Forum
IoI Parents Forum
Venue: London
Date: Ongoing

What we are:

Parents who can think for ourselves

Parents who want to bring up our children without being lectured to

Parents who want our children’s horizons broadened, not narrowed

Parents who are fed up of being treated like children

The Parents forum is an initiative aimed at parents and other individuals who are critical of the knee jerk reaction to most domestic issues that it is the parents or family to blame.
The forum started in October 2006 and so far discussions have looked at: is modern society dangerous for children?, the obsession with healthy eating, breast feeding and what is positive or negative about the family today.

If you feel this sounds like you and you would like an opportunity to discuss parenting issues the Parents Forum is holding a series of discussions.

Read more at the Parents' Forum blog www.parentswithattitude.com/parentsforum/, follow us on Twitter @parents_forum and join us on Facebook here.

Forthcoming meeting

Tuesday 15th January

Redefining Parental Neglect

A cross- disciplinary discussion on the how the state is looking at and redefining the idea of parental neglect and bringing it more centre stage.


Child Neglect in 2011, Action for Children

To attend, contact Jane Sandeman at parents@instituteofideas.com

Past meetings

Thursday 24nd May

French Children Don't Throw Food

We will be looking at the Pamela Druckerman book, French Children Don't Throw Food. This is published as Bringing up Bebe in the US. There seem to be a number of books out at the moment praising France - French women don't get fat and French children are well behaved. Is there something different in French society that we can learn from?

Sally Millard will introduce.


French Children Don't Throw Food, Dr Pamela Druckerman

No bowing down before Bébé, Nancy McDermott, spiked review of books, March 2012

To attend, contact Jane Sandeman at parents@instituteofideas.com

Thursday 22nd March

Gender Identity

A 5 year old hit the headlines recently as his parents and medical experts agreed that he was a girl trapped in a 5 year old boys body. A Canadian couple are bringing up their children gender neutrally. Is gender identity natural or nurtured? Can we, and should we, bring our children up to ignore gender stereotypes?

Martha Robinson a PhD in Neuroscience will introduce the topic.


Gender Identity Disorder in children: an expert's view, Dr Jack Drescher, Daily Telegraph, 21 Feb 2011

Sweden's 'gender-neutral' pre-school, BBC News, 8 July 2011

'The most PC family in the world' try raising a gender-neutral child. It's been done before, and failed, Ed West, Daily Telegraph, 25 May 2011

Delusions of Gender, Cordelia Fine

Wednesday 22nd February

Panic on a Plate

Rob Lyons's recently published book examines today's current obsession with food and the myths that surround it. Is there a scientific basis to eating five fruit and vegetables a day? Is tomato ketchup bad for kids? The obsession with healthy eating affects everyone and creates a particular anxiety for parents trying to do what is best for their children. Rob's book looks objectively at the food propoganda surrounding us and dares to challenge things given as absolute truths.

Rob Lyons will introduce the topic.


Panic on a Plate

Tuesday 24th January

Social Mobility

Everyone is talking about social mobility these days. And everyone is identifying that quality of parental input is probably the most decisive factor. Is this true? What is the social mobility agenda - and is it desirable?

Introducing the discussion will be Sally Millard


Wednesday 13th July

Sexualisation of Children

The recent government review has sparked off a huge discussion about whether there is a pornification of society that needs to be addressed; or whether there is an increasing anxiety about sex and children, which has nothing to do with pop videos, but has a lot to do with adults own anxieties about boundaries between adults and children.

Introducing the discussion will be Dr Jan McVarish

Thursday 5th May

The Power of the Mummy Bloggers

The mumsnet phenomenon has been discussed extensively- mumsnet was seen as the kingmaker in the last election. A Save the Children initiative in Bangladesh invited three mums who are the leading "mummy" bloggers to go along and see work they had done there and discuss it in their blogs. Introducing the discussion will be Jennifer Howze, a journalist and co-founder of CyberMummy, the UK's only conference for parent bloggers.

Thursday 27 January 2011, 7pm

Divorcing responsibly

Discussing how the law and social policy are dictating a norm about how adults should behave within their own intimate sphere. Helen Reece, who has written extensively on this subject, will introduce.

Thursday 1 July 2010, 7pm

Why do boys fail? Jo Sedley, a primary school teacher, will introduce a discussion on what is the truth behind the contention that boys are failing at school? What does the discussion really represent?

Recommended reading: Boys are being failed by our schools, Daily Mail

Thursday 27 May 2010, 7pm

Jennie Bristow introduced a discussion on Sure Start. In all the debate around the general election there is one thing all commentators and parties have agreed on: that Sure Start is a good thing. This forum looked at why is Sure Start so feted; and what will Sure Start become in the light of who has won the election.

Recommended readings:

Wednesday 31 March 2010, 7pm

Are young girls being sexualized? In our seemingly ceaseless appetite to problematise teenagers, the latest discussion is the sexualisation of children. Cameron and Balls are fighting it out as to who identified this issue first, and who can introduce the most regulations against advertisers.

This forum critically examines are children being sexualized? What does this mean? What is the content of the strategies proposed to counteract this alleged sexualisation and what do they mean for how we think about children, sex, and adult authority.

The forum was introduced by Dr Jan McVarish, a researcher and lecturer at the University of Kent. Her interests lie in the sociology of interpersonal relationships, parenting, family life, sex and intimacy.

Recommended readings:

Thursday 25 February 2010, 7pm

Politics, policy and the family. Angus Kennedy introduced why the family has become the pre election topic debate- with Labour publishing its Green Paper on the family this week (with a particular emphasis on the roles of fathers) and David Cameron announcing that the Tory party will mend Broken Britain.

Recommended reading: Plans outlined for strengthening families

Thursday 14 January 2010

Stephen Baskerville, who is an advocate of father's rights, talked about 'Father's rights, family courts and divorce'.

Recommended reading: Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry by Lenore Skenazy

Tuesday 22 September 2009

A Dutch court has put a 13-year-old girl under state care for two months, stalling her bid to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world. The decision by three Utrecht judges means Laura Dekker’s parents, who support her plans, temporarily lose the right to make decisions about her. A child psychologist will now assess her capacity to undertake the voyage. This forum asks the question should this girl be allowed to sail around the world?

Are parents always right when making these decisions? Or do their own ambitions blind them to what is best for their children? Introduced by Sally Millard, who is producing a session on this topic at the Battle of Ideas.

Recommended reading:Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry by Lenore Skenazy

Tuesday 30 June

Discussion on the recently republished The Nurture Assumption by Judith Rich Harries

Helene Guldberg, author of Reclaiming Childhood will introduce. See www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/reviewofbooks_article/6399/

Thursday 21 May

Discussion on The Lost Child by Julie Myerson

Wednesday 1 April


Experts and supernanny agree that the right kind of parenting is authoritative: firm but fair. Is there a right way to discipline your child? Is smacking totally out of the question? Is our anxiety about discipline showing we have lost our authority in the first place?

Introduction by Helen Reece

Wednesday 25 February

The forum will discuss the recent Good Childhood report

Wednesday 21 January

Sex Education

Wednesday 26 November

Indicators of a school’s contribution to well-being

Sally Millard will introduce a discussion on the Ofsted consultation document 'Indicators of a school’s contribution to well-being'

Tuesday 21 October

IVF provision, risk and morality

Who should be entitled to receive NHS-funded IVF treatment? How many cycles of IVF should they receive, and how many embryos should be transferred at a time? Why have these questions become so heated of late, and what do officialdom's answers reveal about risk and morality today?

Introduction by Sandy Starr, Communications Officer at the Progress Educational Trust

Thursday 25 September

Adoption, introduced by Dave Clements

Thursday 10 July 2008

The emperor’s new therapeutic clothes

Teachers and educationalists want to see resilient, positive, happy children. How could there any objection to this? Or is the new affirmative language of therapeutic education just a façade? Is there a new moment in education or are therapists dressing up a diminished view of children in fancy clothes? Dennis Hayes and Kathryn Ecclestone – authors of The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education - discuss the reaction of the therapeutic establishment to their critique.

'Infantilised' students and staff rapped, Melanie Newman, Times Higher Education, 12 June 2008

Thursday 1 May 2008

Watching, wanting and wellbeing

The National Consumer Council issued two reports last year warning of the danger of advertising and television watching. Their concern is that children who spend more time in front of a TV or computer screen are more materialistic. They say that their evidence shows that children who are more materialistic tend to have lower self-esteem.

Are children are being overwhelmed by consumer culture? Does this make children unhappy?

The forum was introduced by Wendy Earle.

Thursday 21 Feburary 2008

No Fear: Growing Up in a Risk Averse Society

Tim Gill introduced his book looking at risk and children. No Fear joins the increasingly vigorous debate about the role and nature of childhood in the UK. Over the past 30 years activities that previous generations of children enjoyed without a second thought have been relabelled as troubling or dangerous, and the adults who permit them branded as irresponsible. No Fear argues that childhood is being undermined by the growth of risk aversion and its intrusion into every aspect of children's lives. This restricts children's play, limits their freedom of movement, corrodes their relationships with adults and constrains their exploration of physical, social and virtual worlds.

Tuesday 15 January 2008

Child Development

Helene Guldberg, child development expert and author, will talk about her forthcoming book: how children's lives have changed, and how these changes shape children's development.

Thursday 6 December 2007

Families in the Media

This forum will look at the contemporary media portrayal of families in popular culture - MummyLit, reality TV and drama shows. From Bringing Up Baby to Desperate Housewives, you can be upfront and personal about what you watch and read and what you think about it.

Introduced by Alicia Munckton

Monday 19 November 2007

Early-years education - held jointly with the IoI Education Forum

Does the Early Years Curriculum presage a new ‘Jesuit’ maxim: "Give me a child from birth to five and they will be the State's forever"?

Speakers: Jo Sedley and Jenny Payne

25 September 2007

Children and Sport

Sport today is heralded as the supreme shared national experience. At the same time sports days in school are composed of non-competitive events. Yet the government wants to put more emphasis on Physical Education in the school curriculum.

Is there a problem with children and sport? Are we raising a generation of couch potatoes?

23 August 2007

Every Child Matters

Parenting has increasingly become a central issue for public policy making. Initiatives such as Every Child Matters, Sure Start and Children’s Centres proliferate. There seems to be no end to the government’s appetite to marginalize parents and bring in the professionals into family life.

This forum will examine the impact that these initiatives are having on the family. How do these policies impact on the role of parents today?

Useful links:

Every Child Matters website

If this were my child ... A councillor's guide to being a good corporate parent

Parenting Support: Guidance for Local Authorities in England

Care Matters: Time for Change

Handle with care: an investigation into the care system, Harriet Sergeant (Introduction)

Policy review of children & young people, HM Treasury

The State is a pretty rotten parent, Fiona Millar

26 July 2007

The Feminine Mistake: Are we giving up too much? by Leslie Bennetts

This is one of the latest books on the ever continuing mommy wars discussion. This forum will look at what are the issues that underlie the debate about whether it is better to be a mother who goes out to work, or one who stays at home

19 June 2007

The UNICEF report on 'Child Poverty in Perspective: An overview of child well-being in rich countries'

This report created a furore when it was published earlier in 2007. The United Kingdom came out as the worst country for child poverty in the developed countries. Since then it has set the framework for much of the discussion about children and adolescents in the UK today.

This forum will examine the report in detail and look at how valid are the findings of the report. What does it tell us about young people in the UK? Is there anything we can take from this? What, if any, are the issues we need to address?

The UNICEF report: http://www.unicef-icdc.org/presscentre/presskit/reportcard7/rc7_eng.pdf (PDF)

Tuesday 1 May

The forum discussed teenage mothers.

Thursday 15 March 2007

Save Kids' TV

Ofcom has just published rules which decide what foods are considered “junk” and these foods will be banned from being advertised during children’s’ programmes this year. This will have a serious impact on commercial channels being able to continue funding children’s television.
On top of this commercial broadcasters are reacting to changes in children’s’ viewing patterns by limiting their production of new, innovative children’s’ programmes. This is happening in a climate when children watching TV is being blamed for autism, obesity and the early onset of puberty for girls.

Estelle Hughes - Save Kids’ TV campaign, ex-Controller of CITV
Estelle will examine how we make a case for quality UK children’s TV in the present climate



Starving kids’ TV of funds - and fun, Claire Fox, spiked-online

www.ofcom.org.uk - Read the report on banning junk food advertising

20th February 2007

The Mommy Myth by Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels.
The discussion will be looking at the myths of motherhood. How does the media portray motherhood? Is it the most fulfilling experience of your life? Can women only achieve contentment through the perfection of mothering?

Tuesday 16 January 2007

‘Is breast best?’

Monday 4 December 2006

The meeing analysed the Jamie Oliver phenomenon - why has it captured the public imagination? (Readings announced separately).

The convenor is Jane Sandeman. For more information and/or if you are interested in attending please email Jane.