When Katie Hopkins appeared on the This Morning programme and announced, “I do judge children by their names ... For me, a name is a shortcut of finding out what class that child comes from,” there was a nationwide gasp of disbelief that could be heard way beyond the confines of daytime television.
Hopkins went on to say, “I tend to think that children who have intelligent names tend to have fairly intelligent parents and they make much better playdates for my children.” But hang on, let’s not forget these are statements made by the Queen of Conflict. You know, the woman who declared she wouldn't employ fat people “because they look lazy.”
Was I shocked to hear the shallow tactic she employs for selecting appropriate friends for her children? No, not really. Disappointed maybe, but not shocked. Why? Because there are plenty of parents who spend an inordinate amount of time engineering what they perceive to be the ideal social mix for their offspring. Recently, I heard of a mother whose son has been strongly encouraged to divorce himself from his slightly younger pals because it’s time for him to ‘man up’ and make older friends. Ideally, those boys who have attained a level of maturity that belies their years – we’re talking primary school here.
The insidious process began with separating him in the playground ‘line up’ ahead of his school day. It reached a new and defining mark when the boy’s younger friends were excluded from his birthday bash. Several of the discarded number were reduced to tears. Hardly surprising, given that a bond formed at pre-school had now been torn up on a parental whim.
I’d prefer to think that the mum in question is naïve, ill-advised, or perhaps a little of both. However, all the signs are to the contrary, and the unpleasant shadow of the pushy parent seems to be in danger of morphing into something far more sinister than devising ways and means of keeping a child ahead of the game.