Am I good parent? This is a question regularly posed, ironically, by good parents everywhere.
Anyone who has packed off their pop sock wearing poppett to school with a sniffle or dismissed fears of teddy bear eating monsters lurking under the bed with a snort and a wave of a hand will understand the burden of being a conscientious, responsible adult.
It is a fact of life that being a parent is the hardest job in the world and anyone who tells you otherwise either hasn’t got kids or isn’t the sort of person you would want to share a pint with.
There are myriad reasons why parenthood is such a big ask but perhaps the biggest challenge we face is the opinion of others. Or at least our perception of it.
I am not talking about whether we give a monkey’s that others may pass judgement on the nipper’s unkempt hair or scuffed school shoes, more the opinion of a wider society.
In recent weeks there has been much debate as to whether or not this country requires a ‘Home Alone’ law which will give parents clear guidelines on how long and from what age a child can be left alone.
The clamour for such legislation follows the case of a mum who received a caution after leaving her six-year-old son alone for 45 minutes while she attended a driving lesson. The law is pretty clear cut: parents face prosecution if an unsupervised child is at risk of unnecessary suffering or injury.
As the father of a five-year-old I cannot understand how any parent can consider it acceptable to leave someone so young alone for any period of time.
Clarification of this particular law is unnecessary as everybody knows what is right and wrong here.
Every child is different so a one size fits all set of guidelines would be totally unworkable and, of course, there are some circumstances when leaving a child on their own would not be beyond the pale.
As easy as it is for us to smugly sit here and declare ‘I would never be such a bad parent’, it’s worth remembering that life as a mum or dad isn’t that straightforward.