It’s your job to control your children, judge tells parents.


Parents have a responsibility to use all their wiles to make headstrong and rebellious teenagers do what they do not want to do, the country’s top family judge said yesterday. Being a parent can be tough and a “very big ask”, Sir James Munby said in a case in which two teenage girls, aged 16 and 14, refused to see their father for six and a half years.

“There are many things which they ought to do that children may not want to do or even refuse to do: going to the dentist, going to visit some ‘boring’ elderly relative, going to school, doing homework or sitting an examination, the list is endless,” he said. “The parent’s job, exercising all their parental skills, techniques and stratagems— which may include use of both the carrot and the stick and, in the case of the older child, reason and argument — is to get the child to do what it does not want to do.”

Sir James, president of the family division, said therewould be no winners if the parents of the twogirls—identified only as J and K—did not do everything they could to restore the father’s relationship with them.

He appreciated that parenting teenagers could be “particularly taxing, sometimes very tough and exceptionally demanding” but that to do their job “a parent should not resort to brute force in exercising parental responsibility in relation to a fractious teenager”.

The London Times, April 23rd pg 5.