The hot parenting de­bate

Friday - - Editor’s Letter -

When I was lit­tle my mother would al­ways threaten to wash my mouth out with soap and wa­ter if I was naughty. I must have been good be­cause I can’t re­mem­ber hic­cup­ping any bub­bles. I’m a mod­ern par­ent. If I need to ca­jole my teenage son into do­ing his home­work I sim­ply point to­wards his Xbox. He’d never risk hav­ing that con­fis­cated. My six-year-old daugh­ter is a lit­tle trick­ier – some­times I have to threaten can­celling play dates, and other times stop­ping her from watch­ing her beloved Mommy and Gra­cie show on YouTube. Both have the same ef­fect – a lit­tle girl who will al­ways brush her teeth/stop an­noy­ing the dog/tidy away her toys.

But I’d never go as far as celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who re­cently con­fessed to us­ing chillies to pun­ish his chil­dren if they mis­be­have. He said he’d even tricked his daugh­ter Poppy into eat­ing a fiery pep­per after she was rude. “Poppy was quite dis­re­spect­ful to me and she pushed her luck,” he boasted. “Five min­utes later she thought I’d for­got­ten and I hadn’t. She asked for an ap­ple. I cut it up into sev­eral pieces and rubbed it with Scotch bon­net and it worked a treat. She ran up to Mum and said, ‘This is pep­pery’. I was in the cor­ner laugh­ing.”

Per­son­ally, I don’t think it’s funny to tor­ture your chil­dren, es­pe­cially with a pep­per that’s so hot you need to wear gloves to han­dle it. That stings. As a chef – and a world­wide TV fig­ure – he should know bet­ter. No won­der it made the head­lines and sparked an equally fiery de­bate on parenting tech­niques (es­pe­cially his!). Turn to page 30 for more on that story and let me know what you think of Jamie and the rest of the is­sue.

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