Welcome to parenting (but only if…)
October 11, 2006
I see that TV presenter Jonathan Ross got into some tepid water over his suggestion that some people should be banned from giving birth. According to the BBC there were ‘more than 60 (ie 61) complaints’. I find that remarkably few. Since I guess the number of people watching that particular show was at least double that number, I take it that probably over half saw nothing to object to in the idea. I would also make a bet that some of those who did complain, if they gave the matter a moment’s thought, might also think his idea had some merit. After all there are pretty clear guidelines on who can and cannot adopt a child so why not on who can beget one. There’a stiff test to see if you can control a motor vehicle so why not one equally searching to see if you are capable of the much more tricky task of controlling an infant. On the whole I prefer this to Mr Ross’s idea of putting something in the water supply- there are tests for so many things these days including who is entitled to be British so I don’t one extra one would be too much of an imposition.
The test for adoption actually looks to me rather less than stringent. The only people red carded are “People convicted of certain violent or sexual offences, or offences against children (or who have household members who are convicted of such offences); people (including household members) with any kind of conviction in the last two years (except motoring offences); someone under 21. After that it all gets a bit too free and easy for my liking:
‘Applicants do not need to be well off and may be on benefits. Applicants will not be automatically excluded if they have had problems with the law, but we need to understand the circumstances at the time and any likely implications for the future. Violent offences will generally disqualify applicants unless there are very special circumstances. We do not have an upper age limit. We’d rather you didn’t smoke, we wouldn’t reject your application to foster or adopt just for this reason We also wouldn’t turn down your application if you were overweight, but our medical advisor would look at the issue and how it affects your ability to be an active parent’
I would go further than that in a prospective parenting test and rule out smokers, people with body-piercing, people who watch ‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’, regular churchgoers, politicians, professional wrestlers, men who use aftershave, fans of Mel Gibson or snooker, psychologists and anyone who has participated in or endorses fox-hunting. That’s just for starters. Until recently I would also have excluded people with tattooes or black nail varnish. People not excluded woould be allowed to be in temporary charge of an infant ofr an hour or two (under close supervision). In addition there would be a test in two parts, the first, theoretical, designed to test your knowledge of signs of infant disobedience and how to deal with them as well as common hazards in raising children such as noisy, impertinent or otherwise unruly behaviour.. There would then be a ‘road test’ in which the examiner would test your ability to subdue a number of infants of different types and in different situations as well as your ability to react to an emergency like a child swallowing a golf ball or putting a sibling in the microwave. You would be asked to conduct one or more manoeuvres used by skilled parents such as reversing a decision not to punish a child, making a U-turn when you’ve rashly agreed to buy the child a new toy and not cutting corners when it comes to strict observance of family rules. You would also have to deal with roundabout situations, preferably by avoiding them. That should sort out the sheep from the goats. With any luck, I would never have got past the theoretical part.