Brian Edwards Media

I do not care for Nigel Latta

pips_on_tv1

When the terms ‘PC’ or  ‘politically correct’ are used these days it invariably means that the speaker has no real argument to advance. Both terms convey little more than, ‘I’m against it’. So when I read that psychologist Nigel Latta was to front a programme called The Politically Incorrect Parenting Show, I assumed that Nigel would be climbing on the current populist bandwagon of opposition to the ‘nanny state’ and the oppressive ‘it’s not OK’ mentality which it allegedly represents. Nigel would be telling us that, whatever it was,  it was OK. And we’d all feel much better.

Turns out I had it pretty well right. What we learnt from the first episode was that it was OK to feel angry with your kids; it was OK to tell your irritating offspring to ‘go out and play'; it was OK to let children engage in risky activities; and aggression was not merely OK but a desirable quality for any kid wanting to get on in life.

I could just about hear the nation’s parents calling out, ‘Good on you, Nige!’

There’s some truth in all of this of course. When I can’t get past the double-parked SUVs of young Herne Bay matrons dropping their little darlings off at Bayfield School at 8.30am or picking them up again six hours later, I have been known to mutter under my breath, ‘Can’t the little sods walk four blocks?’ And there does seem to be a lot of middle-class anxiety about the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways of bringing up your offspring.

The trouble is that when you tell people it’s OK to feel angry with their kids, but don’t say how angry or what they should do with that anger; or when you say it’s OK to tell your children to go out and play, but don’t say for how long or how often; or when you say kids should be allowed to engage in risky activities, but don’t define an acceptable level of risk; or when you categorise aggression as a desirable quality in young people, but without giving any clear definition of what you mean – when you do any of that, you are effectively giving carte blanche to a range of attitudes and behaviours far wider and potentially far more destructive than you may have intended.

The ‘ear flick’ man was angry and punched his kid in the face. OK?  ‘Why don’t you go out and play?’ is a common parental mantra disguising lack of interest in the kids, their interests and ideas. OK? High-risk activities among young New Zealand men are responsible for a disproportionate number of fatal accidents in that demographic. OK? And aggression – is aggression ever really OK?

I got it of course. I’m a highly intelligent, highly educated, 71-year-old liberal. The Herne Bay matrons in their SUVs, who were probably Nigel’s target audience, would have got it as well. Relax! Chill out! Go with the flow! Stop beating yourself up! Parenting is easy. Just do it.

That, Nigel told us, was how our parents approached bringing us up. They just did it. Ah, the good old days! Well, in my good old days we had corporal punishment in schools and the strap and the wooden spoon were commonplace instruments in the discipline of children. OK?

To justify this sort of facile, once-over-lightly, crowd pleasing stuff you have to generalise from extreme examples. Nigel is good at that. So to show that New Zealand has become preposterously risk averse about child safety, you cite the case of organisers banning a lolly scramble at the Tauranga Christmas parade because kids might get hurt in the melee. I agree with Nigel. That is just bloody stupid. But then the entire country thinks that’s bloody stupid. There isn’t going to be a rash of lolly scramble bannings. The example is completely atypical and tells you nothing about New Zealand child rearing or our attitudes to child safety, except that we can recognise bloody stupidity when we see it. Nothing too worrying there.

The trouble with generalising from extreme and atypical examples is that it breeds complacency about real and serious problems. The baby gets thrown out with the bathwater. The obesity issue is a case in point. Silly rules about what kids can or can’t eat have allowed the government to dispense with sensible initiatives to limit child obesity in New Zealand. All you have to do is label a programme ‘PC’ or dismiss it as another example of the ‘nanny state’ at work and the day is yours.

Well, hey, it’s only a TV show. There were quite a few giggles and Nigel has definite talent in the stand-up comedy department. Well, in showbiz generally, I’d say.

You’ll gather that this is someone whose ideas I don’t really care for. It’s just that after watching his previous series Beyond the Darklands, in which his experience as a forensic psychologist appeared to have led him to the view that the backgrounds of violent offenders, while predisposing them to antisocial behaviour, really didn’t offer any reason to feel compassion for them as well as their victims – they were just bad people – I decided that Nigel wasn’t my cup of tea. I thought he might just be pandering.

I thought more or less the same thing watching The Politically Incorrect Parenting Show. Behind the hip psychologist I was sure I could detect the shadow of a closet social conservative.

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101 Comments:

  1. While I like some of what Nigel Latta talks about, to me he seems to have fallen into the trap he accuses others of – i.e. everyone else is wrong, listen to my advice and your kids will be fine. That’s an attitude most parenting books seem to share.

    I believe Nigel has a lot of professional experience that would be really helpful to parents who are struggling (probably all of us at times). I find these real stories helpful, as opposed to assertions of what is or isn’t ‘PC’.

    What Nigel also didn’t mention is the number of children who were injured, drowned, killed, abused, etc. in the ‘golden years’. It would be worthwhile to know the numbers compared to now, and the reasons for any change. I’d guess ‘PC’ won’t be the reason.

    I don’t know anyone who wraps their kids in ‘cotton wool’, although they may well exist. And there are plenty of parks, schools and early childhood centres with ‘unsafe’ climbing frames, rope courses, including our local parks and our boys’ crèche.

    • While I like some of what Nigel Latta talks about, to me he seems to have fallen into the trap he accuses others of – i.e. everyone else is wrong, listen to my advice and your kids will be fine.

      Absolutely right, Joss. It’s fascinating to see how these sort of slogans (about parents wrapping their kids in cotton wool, for example) quickly come to be regarded as established fact.

      It also has to be said that there is a connection between populism and ratings. If you want your show to rate, it’s best not to go against the popular tide. Highly successful broadcasters know that articulating the mass view is the very best way to hold and increase your audience.

  2. Thanks goodness someone else saw the same social conservatism with his previous show. I was feeling nauseous after each episode when he would summarise entire life-spans and intellects as irredeemably selfish and narcissistic.

  3. I gave up with him after his analysis of the garbage that was/is “Sensing Murder”. If you haven’t seen/read about that this is a good overview

    http://www.sillybeliefs.com/murder-3.html

    • I gave up with him after his analysis of the garbage that was/is “Sensing Murder”.

      Didn’t know about that one. Thanks. A fascinating insight.

  4. It is funny how you interpret what you want to from such a program. “Wrapping in cotton wool” describes what I see as unfortunate protection of kids from bumps and scratches and risks. All of which is experience needed for judging risks and better choices later in life. (If all the kids walked to school they would have mutual protection and learn to cope when not closely supervised by adults.)
    Just hope that Nigel doesn’t say next week that it is OK to give a good sharp smack as normal parenting. It would start another rolling debate!

    • It is funny how you interpret what you want to from such a program.

      I suspect that society’s preoccupation with ‘stranger danger’ may be one of the reasons why so many parents won’t let their kids walk to school. In fact of couse it is generally not ‘strangers’ who represent a threat to children, but people in their own homes or near relatives. The ‘walking bus’ seems to me to represent one very good alternative for anxious parents.

  5. I work on Beyond the Darklands and categorically disagree with you that Nigel and the programme has no compassion. In fact that very word was used in our praise by a reviewer (Deborah Hill Cone) of episode one, season two.
    All of us who work on Darklands are absolutely aware of the horror inflicted on some of these offenders as children – and we are not backwards in portraying this on the programme. How could one not feel sick for five-year-old Taffy Hotene who lived under his house rather than inside – because it was safer?
    I personally spent a lot of time wrestling with Steve Williams story. (He murdered little six-year-old Coral Burrows). The impact of his childhood often had a devastating effect on me and I suffered some medical issues which I believe were directly related to making the programme.
    But if you ask me where to put my compassion when it comes to adult Steve or six-year-old Coral and her family, there is absolutely no question.
    When these people grow up, no matter what they have been subjected to, they are still responsible for the decisions they make in their adult lives. That is a point we have made – and will continue to make. A hideous background goes a long way to explaining an outcome but it cannot be used as an excuse for exercising free will.
    We as a team, spend months working with both the victims and people who have played roles in the offenders’ lives. We take our responsibilities very, very seriously. No one has the right to accuse us of a once over lightly approach – it is an insult and quite frankly, wrong.
    By the way, I have always voted for Helen.

    • I work on Beyond the Darklands and categorically disagree with you that Nigel and the programme has no compassion.

      Thank you for this considered response, Mary. I appreciate it. We will nonetheless have to agree to disagree on Beyond the Darklands I did not see all the episodes, but in those which I did see I found Nigel Latta to be judgmental and unforgiving. This is an issue very close to my heart and I have written extensively about the origins of crime. A theme of that writing, for which I was fortunate enough to win the New Zealand Media Peace Prize, is that while it is easy to recognize the innocent child that we all once were in the saint of today, it is considerably more difficult for most people to recognize the same innocent child in the monster. In a book on murder in New Zealand which I co-authored with the late Mike Bungay, Mike, who had defended dozens of murderers and rapists, concluded, “There but for the grace of God, go I”. I never got that feeling from Mr Latta.
      I need to correct one misunderstanding, however. My reference to the “once over lightly” approach was to The Politically Incorrect Parenting Show, not to Beyond the Darklands.

      Thanks once again.

  6. Nice to have you both back BE’n’JC.
    Latta comes up in conversation with one of my sisters and I. She trained w Nige.
    I enjoy his rnz radio appearances (for some reason radio smooths Nige out, perhaps not so if he’s on Radio Live).
    My sister – a practising psychologist & therapist is not supportive of the swearing Nige uses in his youth therapy ( to get onside? ) and this extends out into a lot of the modelling he uses.
    I believe this tracks back to the contemporary desire to ‘model’ the behaviour you want to see and not reinforcing the behaviours you wish to eliminate or control.
    Dear Mary D – those months you spent in the murk of the show you were creating: time well spent?
    Not if yr health suffered obviously, but do you support the conclusions Nige reached and why are they so divergent from yours? To rate, don’t shows like yrs have to pander low to reach the advertisers widest possible audience anyhoo?

  7. As some wise person said there must be a cross-over point where the poor litlle kid subjected to awful indignities becomes that revolting merciless adult criminal. I wonder what he/she looks like at the cross-over point?

    • As some wise person said there must be a cross-over point…

      Interesting observation, Ianmac. I prefer to think of it as a continuum. Many years ago I took part in a telethon raising money for abused children. About a decade later, people were baying for violent offenders to be locked up for life. These were almost certainly the same people they had given money for in the telethon. Today’s abused are frequently tomorrows abusers.

  8. BE insults the intelligence of the majority of parents in this country. He is typical of the nanny state lot who believe that parents lack the intelligence required to make good decisions. We are also apparently unable to make fundamental decisions about the wellbeing and happiness of our children, such as how long we should let our children go out to play, or how much risk we should expose our children to, or how we manage our own anger, etc. BE, like the ejected labour government, feels that we must always cater to the lowest common denominator. Needless to say BE is also undoubtedly pro the “anti smacking” bill as he clearly believes we need instruction on how to discipline our children to ensure that normal discipline does not escalate to violence. Nigel Latta allows us the courtesy of deciding for ourselves. He doesn’t feel the need to spell this out. He clearly believes parents are smart enough to make these decisions on their own. BE who is “highly intelligent and highly educated”, didn’t get Nigel Latta’s message despite his professed intellectual abilities. Most of us unintelligent parents (and by BE’s implication this is the majority) who supposedly are unable to bring our children up adequately without government intervention or without the benefit of his informed comments, did in fact get it. The word on the street (which includes numerous parents plus a couple of teachers I have spoken to in the last couple of days as well as parenting blogs) believe that this show is a great asset to parents and has helped them feel better about the way they parent. Positive confident parents makes for positive confident children. Nigel Latta is playing a big part in achieving this – and despite what BE thinks we parents are the people that count as we are the ones who will be raising the individuals who will support us in our old age and run our country. I do care for Nigel Latta! About BE I’m not so sure.

    • BE insults the intelligence of the majority of parents in this country.

      Good rave, NH. Although, with the exception of my support for the amendment to the Crimes Act removing the defence of ‘reasonable force’ which allowed child abusers to escape penalty – there is no ‘anti-smacking’ law – I hold none of the beliefs you attribute to me. Child abuse is epidemic in this country. No doubt all those people who beat the living shit out of their offspring will also be reassured by Nigel’s assertion that it’s OK to be angry with your kids and by his support for the pre-school teacher who thinks aggression is a desirable quality in children. Frankly, I’d be worried if you did care for me.

  9. Usually I just let these things float on by but in your case Brian I’m going to make an exception and reply. The ‘blog culture’ is generally a very good thing in my view. I’m all for debate and discussion. What you’ve done though, and you wouldn’t be the first, is to publicly attack my personal integrity on the basis of a series of assumptions about me that are, quite simply, incorrect. I would have hoped that if you were going to publicly question my integrity in this way you might have at least done your homework. Let me deal with your criticism of the crime series first because that’s the one that disturbs me the most. I’ve written extensively on the subject of crime and rehabilitation in my book “Into the Darklands”. Perhaps if you’d read the book first then you might have seen that your assumptions about me are incorrect. I rather suspect that “closet social conservative” is a very polite way of calling me a redneck. It would be my view that this issue is far too grey to reduce to the somewhat trite oppositions of “conservative” and “liberal”. These tired old sticks and stones are responsible for many an unhelpful and unproductive polarized debate. I also have the great advantage of not just writing about crime and rehabilitation, but also spending the better part of two decades actually doing it. There is a difference between writing about and doing. Up close the issues are far more complex than they might seem from a distance. The issue that you have with “Beyond the Darklands”, I would respectfully suggest, misses the point. My view as a clinician, and I think it would be fair to say that this view is shared by every mainstream treatment provider in the world, is simply that problems are not excuses. There is no excuse for violence. Ever. Many people experience trauma, abuse, and neglect in their lives, but only a small percentage of those people go on to commit crimes. In “Beyond the Darklands” we outlined the road that people traveled to bring them to that moment, but we also wanted to make the very clear point that ultimately those men were responsible for their crimes. There is no excuse for Paul Bailey raping and murdering a fifteen year old girl. There was no excuse for Taffy Hotene who stabbed Kylie Jones so cruelly. We weren’t talking about how you should deal with people like this, or how to prevent these crimes in the first place. Again, not only do I have quite clear views about this (which you would also find in my books) but I’ve also been actively working to do that for many years. It might surprise you to know that whenever I am training other professionals I stress the importance of both simplicity, and compassion. As for your take on the parenting show it all seems to me a little elitist. You also might want to wait until we’re done because we do have a few more things to say about all this. Again, having worked with thousands of families (of all types) from all over NZ for many years I think I’ve got a pretty good take on what they are and aren’t capable of figuring out for themselves. It seems I’ve got more faith in the ‘little people’ than you do. I’m not really into all this blog sniping stuff, I’d rather talk to people face to face, so if you ever wanted to actually find out how many of your assumptions about me are true then please feel free to give me a call. We could go have a coffee and you might just find that I’m far more like you than you think. In the meantime, please be assured that I still care for you. It seems only fair.

    • Usually I just let these things float on by but in your case Brian I’m going to make an exception and reply.

      OK, I may have misjudged you. BUT if you make television programmes, you should expect to be judged on those programmes without reference to anything else. I shouldn’t have to read your books, attend your therapy sessions or meet you in person in order to understand you or get the point. As it happens, my wife would agree with you on the ‘not an excuse’ issue. We’ve had a few fairly hairy debates on this one. She says background may provide an ‘explanation’ for antisocial behaviour, but not an excuse. My own view is that this amounts to little more than semantic nitpickiing.

      Here’s how I see it. Anti-social behaviour, particularly violent anti-social behaviour ought not to be ‘excused’ in the sense that it ought not to be condoned or approved of. It isn’t ‘OK’ to assault another person. Nor can it be ignored. We have to have sanctions – I prefer the word to ‘punishments’ – and we have to protect other members of society.

      But the preconditions for violent offending are generally to be found in a combination of factors for which the individual cannot be held responsible. The profile of the average Kiwi violent offender is: male, under 30, more likely to be Polynesian than Pakeha, from a large family, abused as a child, below average IQ (in European tests), poor educational attainment, unemployed, history of early offending and institutional care. Yes, there will be exceptions, but as a general rule violent offenders don’t come from affluent, loving backgrounds. The semantic distinction between something providing an ‘explanation’ for a certain behaviour and an ‘excuse’ for that behaviour is based on a confusion of our proper refusal to condone the behaviour itself and the quite untenable view that the perpetrator was after all really responsible for the accidents of birth and upbringing, of nature and nurture, that provided the preconditions for his offending.

      I would have thought that the composition of our prison population would provide ample support for this argument. Are Maori grossly over-represented in the prison population because of their life experience or because of some ‘inexcusable’ failure to take individual responsibility for their actions?

      As to The Politically Incorrect Parenting Show, I thought it was a divertissement for for informed, mildly neurotic, middle-class parents. The prime response of that audience would have been, “God, I know what you mean, Nigel.” In a way that’s what I really found wrong with the programme. The people you were helping probably didn’t need a great deal of help.

      As to ‘the blog culture’, I agree that most of it is little more than talk-back in print. We really are trying to do just a little better than that.

      I appreciate your taking the time to respond to my comments. I did feel a bit guilty after writing such a trenchant critique. But I’m working on it.

      Happy to join you for that cup of coffee.

      Kind regards

      Brian

  10. As a parent I found this to be quite an enlightening and “not-so-serious” parenting show. Inherently, I think MOST( being the operative word) of us know, as parents, what is fundamentally right or wrong for our kids.While bringing up the next generation with good morals and values, the key is not to take things too seriously!!! I found the show entertaining while reinforcing these fundamentals. Lets face it, we all need a little humour as parents without taking everything we read or hear too seriously!
    I have read two of Mr Latta’s books which gives you an all round approach to form your own tailored, big picture on parenting.

    • As a parent I found this to be quite an enlightening and “not-so-serious” parenting show.

      As a parent of five and, for a time, having had three teenagers living at home at once, I couldn’t agree more that we all really need a little humour. At that level, I enjoyed the programme. But, as I’ve replied to Nigel, I’m really not sure that this was a programme for people who actually need advice on parenting, but for good parents who are perhaps a bit hard on themselves.

  11. Whilst it might be true that you shouldn’t have to do all those things to form an opinion about a television programme I make, I do think there is an obligation to do a little research before offering those opinions publicly in a formal setting, particularly if you’re having a crack at a person’s fundamental integrity . I think if you’re going to have a go at someone publicly then you really do owe it to that person to be sure what you’re saying accurately reflects their position. I realize that’s a higher ethical standard than most blog respondents expect, or probably even want, but don’t we have the responsibility to aim a little higher in how we talk about each other given that a lot of people listen to us? I’ve been guilty of this myself in the past, but I’m trying to aim a little higher now whenever I critique people. It certainly was what we did in “Beyond the Darklands”. First we researched, exhaustively, and then we offered an opinion. As for the bigger question of whether or not this is only about semantics, I’m not so sure it is. I’m a clinician first and foremost, and so I think there’s a subtle but very important pragmatic distinction between these positions that is more than mere semantics. Sure the profile of violent criminals is something along the lines of “…male, under 30, more likely to be Polynesian than Pakeha, from a large family, abused as a child, below average IQ (in European tests), poor educational attainment, unemployed, history of early offending and institutional care…” but there are plenty of people who fit that profile who don’t offend (and plenty who don’t fit that profile who do). So whilst you can’t choose the genes you inherit, or the circumstances of your childhood, there are plenty of people with bad genes and appalling circumstances who choose not to be violent. Instead they choose to be good people, and good parents. Not only have I seen the research but I’ve also met some amazing individuals from appalling backgrounds who have made very different choices about how they live their own lives. This is a fundamentally important point and one which is often simply glossed over in these types of debates. As a clinician it will always be my position that the guy doesn’t kill someone because he was beaten as a child, the guy kills someone because he made the choice to hurt someone. That might seem simplistic and judgmental, but that’s the only place you can start from when you’re sitting in a room with a guy who likes to hurt people when he gets angry. As for the Parenting Show being a “divertissement” I think the point is really that the show is pretty clearly intended for the overwhelming majority of families where you have good parents doing a good job. All we’re saying is don’t worry so much about the fact that you’re human, sometimes less than perfect, and occasionally make mistakes. I do. I think all parents do. The issues you raise are more relevant to a show called “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Child Abuse and Neglect” which, just by the by, is a show I would very much like to make. Besides, where is it written that it’s wrong to try and make good mums and dads feel a little better about the fact they’re doing a good job? Their concerns, worries, and fears are just as valid as anyone else’s. The next time I’m in town I’ll call you for a coffee… and maybe bring your wife because she sounds like a thoroughly sensible person I’d very much like to meet as well.

    • Whilst it might be true that you shouldn’t have to do all those things to form an opinion about a television programme I make, I do think there is an obligation to do a little research before offering those opinions publicly in a formal setting, particularly if you’re having a crack at a person’s fundamental integrity .

      Well, I guess we’re making progress. We agree on who The Politically Incorrect Parenting Show was intended for and that there may well be a need for a Politically Incorrect Guide to Child Abuse and Neglect.

      As to questioning your integrity, I made a judgement about you based on the impression I had of you having watched several episodes of Beyond the Darklands and the first episode of The Politicaly Incorrect Parenting Show. If I’ve misjudged you, I apologise. But I know a bit about television and all the research on the topic concludes that impression accounts for around 80% of the judgements we make about people on TV, and the words they speak about 20%. Juries, faced with difficult to understand, complex forensic evidence, often operate in a similar fashion, relying on their intuitions rather than the claims and counterclaims made during the trial. It’s not a bad way of operating. And you may have to admit that the title of the programme did rather suggest that you were on a populist crusade.

      Finally, your point about people making good and bad choices presupposes that those choices are free choices, unaffected by the totality of that person’s genetic and environmental conditioning up to that point. You say: As a clinician it will always be my position that the guy doesn’t kill someone because he was beaten as a child, the guy kills someone because he made the choice to hurt someone. That might seem simplistic and judgmental, but that’s the only place you can start from when you’re sitting in a room with a guy who likes to hurt people when he gets angry Surely you have to ask the questions: Why does someone make a choice to hurt someone? Why does a guy like to hurt people when he gets angry? Can ‘making a choice to hurt someone’ or ‘liking to hurt people’ really be separated from the complex patterns of influence on that person’s life, from the balance of good and evil forces that have made them what they are. I would consider that simplistic.

      Now I have a suggestion: Let’s continue this conversation face to face. We don’t want people thinking you can find serious debate in a blog.

  12. Good suggestion. Get a room, you two!

  13. I believe our examination of these people is deeper and far more complex than any other media organisation I can think of.
    By going right back to the beginning of offenders’ lives, we provide context for their actions.
    Context yes. An excuse no.
    I am in the office briefly on Monday before heading away to continue work on another couple of episodes of Beyond the Darklands.
    Before I go, I’ll put a couple of copies of the programme in the mail for you to look at.

    • I believe our examination of these people is deeper and far more complex than any other media organisation I can think of.

      Thank you Mary. I don’t for a moment doubt your sincerity or the integrity of your work and I’ll happily accept your kind offer to take another look at Beyond the Darklands. But still with the ‘no excuses’! I find that rather sad.

  14. I’m rather enjoying the debate….

    • I’m rather enjoying the debate….

      Good. I wasn’t comfortable with Judy’s suggestion that Nigel and I should get a room!

  15. I think it would be fine (and fun) to continue this in person but just by the by… (and more for anyone reading who might be interested…)

    “Surely you have to ask the questions: Why does someone make a choice to hurt someone? Why does a guy like to hurt people when he gets angry? Can ‘making a choice to hurt someone’ or ‘liking to hurt people’ really be separated from the complex patterns of influence on that person’s life, from the balance of good and evil forces that have made them what they are.”

    Yes, you have to ask the first two questions, and no it can’t be seperated from their life. Yet still, the final message to the guy must be that he makes his own decisions. Nothing, not even genetics is divorced from individual choice. The Dunedin Longitudinal Study has shown that genes and environment play a role, but not to the extent that individual responsibility is overridden.

    We couldn’t get a room. People would talk.

    But, yes, it is also true that the individual still chooses a course of action

    • I think it would be fine (and fun) to continue this in person but just by the by… (and more for anyone reading who might be interested…)

      To be continued…. Over coffee.

  16. I suggest you limit the discussion to parenting, Nigel, in the interests of a) achieving some sort of consensus and b) your sanity. Attempting to argue crime and punishment with a determinist is as frustrating as debating with the Flat Earth Society. I vividly remember the night that Bob Jones drove a knife into our dining room table…

  17. I’ve enjoyed the conversation in this thread, but had to disagree with Nigel’s response that his personal integrity was under attack, and in no way did i think saying that you were detecting the shadow of a social conservative equated him with being a redneck. In all, that’s quite a reactionary response.

    All of this in a week where Garth McVicar is calling for the resignation of Chief Justice Sian Elias for questioning the wider correctional system in New Zealand. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0907/S00170.htm
    I’m sure Garth only read the parts of this speech that he thought were about him and his cause for us all to be falling into a moral panic.

    New Zealand entered a new period of social conservatism a while ago, i’m sure we will start seeing more of the punitive thinking we’re already seeing at the moment.

    • I’ve enjoyed the conversation in this thread…

      I suspect Nigel took exception to the suggestion that he was ‘pandering’ in his programmes to populist views.

      As for Garth McVicar, he illustrates perfectly my analogy of a person who tries to put out a fat fire in his kitchen by dousing it with water, burns down his entire house as a result, then concludes that the problem was – not enough water. Believing that longer and longer prison sentences will lead to less crime is a classic example of not learning from history.

  18. What a nice change to read a civilised and intelligent debate on child rearing and child discipline.

    As a parent of two I enjoyed Latta’s show, though like you Brian I wondered if Latta was using extreme examples to make a point. I suppose with TV that’s inevitable though.

  19. Another interesting thread would be a discussion of how the “meaning” of Nigel’s shows are informed by their context in the current media landscape.
    BE is right in that the use of PC in the title is dog whistle. The “smacking bill” (yes, I know there’s no such thing) furore; the news media’s obsession with the gory details of some crimes and not others (and in fact their obsession with violent crime in general); the avalanche of cheap, meaningless “reality” shows – all cast a light on our reading of such a show and its intent.

  20. I’m still struggling to understand what’s wrong with taking Tarquin to the museum and art gallery?

    • I’m still struggling to understand what’s wrong with taking Tarquin to the museum and art gallery?

      It is a problem, isn’t it?

  21. You’re 71?

    I’d never have guessed!

    [sorry for bringing the tone down, but it was my first thought on reading the post :-) ]

  22. I feel an interesting meeting on The Panel is in the offing. Someone call Jim.

  23. My boys from the preschool years loved dragging me off to museums. If we paused in a town even a little town off they would go to find a museum, though they were not very excited about Te Papa. But really loved the old Wgtn Museum.

    • My boys from the preschool years loved dragging me off to museums.

      I hated museums as a child and still do. The exception was the Kensington Science Museum. But even there there was a problem. My Uncle Donald who took me to the museum was an information sponge and stopped to read every piece of information about everything. I just wanted to push the buttons on the working models. So my preference in New Zealand is for Te Papa which caters for children like me.

  24. Wow. I am just watching the second ep of this show now and I am going to have to be a little bit harsher about it than you, Brian.
    What a bunch of self-congratulatory, privileged, whitewashed, cliched and mediocre horsewallop.
    Flashy graphics cover up the fact that the show is actually woe-fully lacking in content.
    Also, the ‘breast nazi’ comment was in really, really bad taste. I abhor it when people throw around the word nazi like its any old thing. His credibility in my eyes plummeted after that.

    • Wow. I am just watching the second ep of this show now and I am going to have to be a little bit harsher about it than you, Brian.

      A bit harsher, Charlotte?! Actually, with the exception of the ‘breast Nazis’ comment, where I agree with you, I though this programme was pretty good – good fun and lots of useful information on food, sleep and potty training. Pretty well the same advice, by the way, given by Jo Frost on Supernanny.

  25. 25

    Oh Brian,

    I arrived at your site after googling the name of Nigel’s show because I’ve missed it again..
    I am SO disappointed to read your comments. I wouldn’t ususally give a damn, but as a good kiwi girl (middle aged woman) your opinion means something to me.
    I read Nigel Latta’s book ‘before you children drive you crazy, read this’ a few weeks ago and LOVED it. I am so sick of reading books by the likes of Stephen Biddulph which basically tell me that my daughter will be sexually promiscuous and my son will be a delinquent due to the fact that they are being raised by a single mother. It’s refreshing, and encouraging to hear someone saying that while their genes, etc, have an impact on who they become, I can have a chance of positiving infuencing the life of my precious babies.
    And Brian, your comment that ‘impressions’ of a person account for 80% of what we think about them, and ‘what they say’ about 20% does you no favours!! Where is your independent research and thinking??!
    And …. why is making good parents who think they’re not so good (totaly in that category) feel a little better about themselves such a bad thing?
    As humans, we all need validation in the roles that we carry out in our lives. I’m sure you of all people, Brian, as public figure understand that …
    Nigels views on child wrangling, as I call it, are practical, non judgemental, and terribly funny. If you can’t laugh at yourself …
    I’m not saying you should be a fan, but I’m suprised that you object to a programme on tv that gives an alternative to other ‘parenting’ programmes on offer which are patronising and mind numbing to the extreme.

    Donna

    • I arrived at your site after googling the name of Nigel’s show because I’ve missed it again..

      Sorry to have disappointed you, Donna. However, my statement about how viewers judge people on television was simply a statement of fact, based on widespread research over many years. It’s also not a bad way of assessing people. Much less reliable is the printed word where we are denied access to what the face, the voice and the body language are telling us.

      There may well be nothing wrong with providing reassurance to parents feeling guilty about the way they’re bringing up their kids, but my assumption is that those are already responsible, thinking people and probably excellent parents. Should they be a priority for someone making programmes about child rearing?

      Finally, I thought Nigel’s second programme was both entertaining and extremely useful to all parents.

  26. Have read the comments above with interest after finding Nigel’s note to self on Twitter! I, as a school teacher at Intermediate level, find it interesting that a lot of the violence comments were regarding men/boys. I am growing increasingly alarmed at the level of violence, including emotional, verbal and physical, demonstrated by girls these days. We are in for a growth in the population of women’s prisons in the near future if they also are not helped. As for the ‘an explanation not an excuse’ debate I am firmly on the side of explanation. I try my darndest to have positive input into the lives of students from some very sad backgrounds. Some I feel I reach with a level of success – after 20 years I’ve got plenty of past students to dwell on. Others have no intention of changing their behaviours despite the amount of care significant adults other than their parents or caregivers offer them. It can make the job we do very difficult as, without a positive relationship with students, education in this day and age of no corporal punishment doesn’t happen or if it does it is minimal – only happening on the ‘good’ days. Corporal punishment only replaced the bad days with fear – and even that didn’t work all the time!

    • Have read the comments above with interest after finding Nigel’s note to self on Twitter!

      Thanks for this thoughtful comment, Vicki

  27. “the ‘breast nazi’ comment was in really, really bad taste. I abhor it when people throw around the word nazi like its any old thing”

    I agree, calling anyone a nazi is offensive. And I’ve always wondered who these so-called ‘breast nazis’ are. It’s a label that gets lazily bandied around, but just who is it meant to describe? Nigel, can you please name who you are labelling a nazi?

  28. 28

    As someonewho has worked in the counselling area, I am grateful for Nigel’s skills + perceptions in working with people in difficulties.
    If you can,t connect with people there are going to be few, if any, changes made.
    Being creative with the ways you make “connections” is surely part + parcel of being a professional.

    • As someonewho has worked in the counselling area, I am grateful for Nigel’s skills + perceptions in working with people in difficulties.

      Fair enough.

  29. “The trouble is that when you tell people it’s OK to feel angry with their kids, but don’t say how angry or what they should do with that anger; or when you say it’s OK to tell your children to go out and play, but don’t say for how long or how often; or when you say kids should be allowed to engage in risky activities, but don’t define an acceptable level of risk; or when you categorise aggression as a desirable quality in young people, but without giving any clear definition of what you mean – when you do any of that, you are effectively giving carte blanche to a range of attitudes and behaviours far wider and potentially far more destructive than you may have intended.”

    I’m inclined to reply to this paragraph as follows: You’re not the boss of me. The paragraph comes across as very paternalistic, Brian. Parents are independently-functioning decision-making adults. Most don’t need your OK or your approval to make their decisions.

    • I’m inclined to reply to this paragraph as follows:

      I’m inclined to reply to your comment as follows: You’ve entirely missed the point. I have no interest in telling parents what to do. My point was that if a reputable psychologist gives a big tick to certain parental behaviours or attitudes without any qualification (e.g. “It’s OK to be angry with your kids.”) the reassurance he offers to some may provide a licence to others to treat their kids badly. And, for the record, I actually found your comment very patronising.

  30. I read the review in the Herald on Sunday and was thinking about watching the show until I read Nigel Latta’s attitude towards smacking. He thinks it’s ok to smack children because a light smack now & then does no harm. Gosh he’s done it himself!

    What exactly IS a “light” smack? Seemingly to the “ear flick” man it’s a punch in the face. Smacking is violence. When violence is tolerated in the home people will also tolerate it in society.

    • I read the review in the Herald on Sunday

      I agree Julie, but have deleted your final comment which would almost certainly not have been Nigel’s view and was probably defamatory.

  31. 31

    I found his comments on Weatherston pretty interesting. He claimed he was nothing of the intellect that he thought of himself as, then went on to BRAG about how he was tutoring at 3rd year undergrad level.

    Projection is a pretty basic concept, you are what you hate sums it up nicely. Elliots parents saying there daughter was smarter etc etc. How is this any better than the narcicism Weatherston exhibited in the first place?

    Two wrongs don’t make a right, but a wrong can often bring to light other wrongs in people and it’s interesting to see the people who fall into the trap and expose their real selves just as much as Weatherston did in the first place

  32. “but don’t we have the responsibility to aim a little higher in how we talk about each other given that a lot of people listen to us?”

    Maybe so, Nigel, but that is part of the problem for me. It’s not that I listen to you, it’s that I can’t seem to get away from you. Every time I turn on the telly you’re there. Hearing you might be a better description than listening to you. I realise that this probably makes me a bad person, but hey, them’s the breaks.

  33. Seriously Brian how PC were you’re parents. Did you not get told to go outside and play? Did your parents never get angry with you and tell you off, or give you a smack? Did you walk to school? And did any of that do you anyharm? Did you do this to your kids? The world has got out of control with all this rights crap. It worked for us and we did all right. The problems children face these days are the same as when we were children, its just that adults view it and treat it differently. Kids are quite simple really its adults that complicate everything.

    I support Nigels philosophies on parenting. I bet his kids grow up to be well rounded, successful, honest, law obiding human beings.

    Ive worked in the system and Nigel is absolutely correct the system, politics and bureaucracy is prioritiezed over people making a positive difference in young peoples lives, all for the sake of budgets, statistics and power hungry government employees playing the political game to climb the ladder. I hope they can live with their concionse nowing it has come at the cost of a childs welfare.

    • Seriously Brian how PC were you’re parents.

      Didn’t have a dad. Mum wasn’t PC since the concept hadn’t been invented. Did get told to go outside and play. Rarely got told off. Was never smacked. Cycled to school. Those are the factual answers to your questions. I think all the rest has been fairly well covered in this debate.

  34. I love Nigel Lattas’ parenting show, because I feel so validated! My kids are well on the way to having productive lives, contributing to society (girl, a miss hardarse but much loved teacher who is getting her new class back on track and a boy already a farmer and conservationist) 24 and 15 they were allowed to risk take and had to be responsible for their actions. I was the hard grumpy tell it like it is Mum, seldom smacking but our home was a cottonwool free zone. Much frowned on by the new age sensitive Mummies and Daddies who now have more than a sprinkling of smokers, boozers, addicts, unemployed, teenage parents and other such unproductive persons as their children, who, they are bound to worry about into the future. I no longer worry about my children. I did my job as a parent they are well prepared for life and this is partly selfish, when I am old and helpless, it will be up to them to negotiate for the sunny room in the old folks home.

    • I love Nigel Lattas’ parenting show, because I feel so validated!

      I think that’s great, Lynne. And hopefully your kids will “negotiate for the sunny room in the old folks home” for you. Two of our teenage sons once joked that they’d already booked accommodation for us in the “Heinrich Himmler Home for the Bewildered”. But was it a joke?

  35. Brian and Nigel my congratulations to you both. I love the current TV show, largely because I do see myself and agree so much. Brian’s right though unfortunately those who need to watch it won’t. PLEASE get the funding for the show on Child Abuse & Neglect as you’re both right we all need to see it.
    Keep up the wonderful work both of you.
    Lastly Nigel are you related to Rowan Atkinson as I detect a serious resemblance to Mr Bean at times!

  36. Nigel says

    “My view as a clinician, and I think it would be fair to say that this view is shared by every mainstream treatment provider in the world, is simply that problems are not excuses. There is no excuse for violence. Ever. Many people experience trauma, abuse, and neglect in their lives, but only a small percentage of those people go on to commit crimes. …Again, not only do I have quite clear views about this (which you would also find in my books) but I’ve also been actively working to do that for many years…”

    But I agree with the original assessment of BE and find it is only confirmed by the above defense. You are wrong that only a smattering of abuse vics become violent – many do in mental or emotional senses. All mainstream treatment people do not share your view that “problems aren’t excuses” – it is a common approach to encourage self responsibility using such catchcries but most well know that problems to some degree do make people less blameworthy, afford them less power than Jo average to essentially use right conduct.

    I too spent many years in forensics and it was only new staff who had this righteous judgmentalism – this near religious belief that free will and choice determine our actions. The cognitive framework Nigel works with is a moralising one, not of science. Science is not saying that the backgrounds of the offenders excuse them – it does however say they explain and give reasons for outcomes. When reasons are understood, when all is explained there is no need for negative judgment or for putting ourselves above others or even for forgiveness.

    If Nigel was born into Taffy Hotenes body and life then Nigel would have followed the EXACT same course. No choice in this whatsoever. And if he is a properly educated psychologist able to get over his own bias, personal theories and need to classify people as good or bad or making good or bad choices he would freely admit this. What need is this belief humans are autonomous masters of their destiny serving? It is simply not true and age and experience – especially in forensics should teach this.

    I recall a young Dr snapping at a committed murderer who had said something envious to her “I am where I anm today because I studied hard, I just wasn’t lazy like you”. Inner cringe as the Dr not being familiar with his file was unaware the guy was low IQ due to being born with foetal alcohol syndrome, could not read and had a Taffy type upbringing. She however had an average raising and the privilege of IQ. Comparing apples with oranges deary.

    It does not serve victims to lead them to believe offenders had choice. On the deepest level and reality they do not. Noone would chose to be of such malcontent dysfunctional type as to be a black cloud in the world. Character is destiny and we do not mastermind our own character – it is subject to many influences beyond our control.

    I have been a victim of all imaginable crimes and lucky not to have ended up dead, unlike murdered relatives. I have got to the bottom of it – the sociopaths involved had NO choice. Fate caused our paths to cross and there is no value in blaming or judging, only in gaining understanding by trying hard – from this comes reconciliation with history. Forgiveness is not about someone saying sorry – it is about realising its not necessary as even the sociopaths are doing the best job of trying to be human that they can with the defective equipment they have.

    True forgiveness is about accepting that a wrong done could not have been avoided or have unfolded any other way – the offender is therefore not accountable to the victim in the court of reality.
    It is about realising I am not superior to those who rape or murder – just more fortunate in being stable, content, self controlled and let me count the million ways. This is of course easier to arrive at if you are not the victim or close to them. Proximity to the harm increases the challenge. You say you believe in compassion Nigel – but where is the compassion in saying that because many victims do not become offenders the ones who do must just be worst sorts or have not chosen good. We do not all have the same growth potential, or resilience. Go look up the studies on resilience, they might interest you. Ability to surmount major developmental obstacles and turn out rounded or at least able to function even if with a struggle is a gift not a granted.

    • Nigel says: “My view as a clinician, and I think it would be fair to say that this view is shared by every mainstream treatment provider in the world, is simply that problems are not excuses.

      Thank you for that, Mary. I think you should send it on to Nigel.

  37. But I can’t – it’s a disappearing post.
    In summary – Latta needs to appreciate that if there were no explanations/reasons/excuses for undesirable behaviours we’d have no need for psychologists. So I should think we need to keep awareness of those excusing backgrounds high. Only that will motivate us to try and eliminate the seed beds for future miscreants, of abusive environments. He’d do better not to Judge so much – there is no real dividing line between victim and offender, only one the world of illusion creates, and both “classes” keep him paid and in royalties. Who should feel most guilty now!

    • But I can’t – it’s a disappearing post.

      Sorry, Mary. Hit ‘spam’ by mistake. Your comment has been restored below.

  38. This is a really good show and brings back parenting to what it was in the 40s,50s, 60s and 70s when kids were kids and parents allowed them within reason to learn from their experiences be they be good or bad. As a child between 8 to 12 years I remember walking for miles up to the top of Dalziel Road in Dunedin with my friends and lighting a fire to cook boiled sausages my mother had prepared. We huts in hay barns, helped the local pig farmer feed his pigs, herded groups of ponies down the hill to a corner, so we could catch and ride them, and swam in the Kaikorai Stream. I wonder how may parents nowdays would allow their cildren to diappear each day during the summer to do their own thing. I wonder how many kids would want or even know how to do make their own fun. I guess thats why todays kids are so needy.

    • This is a really good show and brings back parenting to what it was in the 40s,50s, 60s and 70s…

      I don’t disgree with that. As the only child of a solo mother, I had to make my own entertainment. But nostalgia can sometimes make us see ‘the good old days’ through rose-coloured glasses.

  39. It’s an interesting argument Nigel and indeed many others make that loads of people suffer terrible abuses & neglect in childhood and don’t go on to become criminals.

    But looking at it from another perspective – how many people from loving, caring and nurturing homes go on to become violent depraved criminals?

    I know this is kind of getting off the topic but I felt the need to ask the question!

    • It’s an interesting argument Nigel and indeed many others make…

      Yes. In Nigel’s thinking there seems to be a point at which one’s previous life experience becomes irrelevant, a point at which the individual is entirely free to make a rational choice, unencumbered by their past.

  40. “… his experience as a forensic psychologist appeared to have led him to the view that the backgrounds of violent offenders, while predisposing them to antisocial behaviour, really didn’t offer any reason to feel compassion for them as well as their victims – they were just bad people – I decided that Nigel wasn’t my cup of tea. I thought he might just be pandering.

    I thought more or less the same thing watching The Politically Incorrect Parenting Show. Behind the hip psychologist I was sure I could detect the shadow of a closet social conservative.”

    Brian, your observations struck a chord with me too, there is a sense of failing to acknowledge the hard wired violent criminals who shadow the violent criminals of the future. Surely, with dispassionate analysis, combined with compassion (life is paradox,) these dangerous unpredictable men can teach us a lot about exactly what is growing up out there right now in our communities? In a way Nigel appeared to almost take the tone of America’s Most Wanted – “let’s keep these loser scum bags behind bars!” and I found his tone a tad patronising and his analysis didn’t fulfil our expectations. Perhaps that strategy was formulated to cheer up the peasants with pitchforks? We thought so at the time. I’ve read all his books and watched all of the Darklands series.
    As for the parenting show, it should be on ‘Two’ coz he appears to be mainly preaching to the converted. I’ve only watched snatches of it (‘Big Bang Theory’ rulz) and I really wondered when he’d pull out a boater and cane and start tap dancing … he could carry it off too!
    Simply, the most profound thing I’ve heard from Nigel Latta was when he was asked on Close Up what he would advise parents if he had one piece of sound advice to offer, it was: “Don’t ever leave your children in the care of a teenaged boy”.
    Right on Nigel.

  41. Watched the show tonight. Disgusted by his portrayal of gifted children and their parents. As if children with extreme abilities/struggles didn’t have enough to deal with already,they are ridiculed by a professional for a laugh. Not very professional at all. Glad my children were in bed!

  42. Like many other Kiwis, I experienced sexual abuse as a child. I came from a broken home that was patched up with a step-parent right out of Dickens, far from the worst hand possible, but statistically ‘at risk’.

    Like most people today, I have been made aware that I am more likely than others to abuse children myself, get divorced, and become violent or angry. Yet I have a healthy if reserved sex life and have a self-image of myself as particularly kind. I do not fear my future, because regardless of whether I was born in Mumbasa or Melbourne, in 1884 or 1984, I was born with everything that Nelson Mandela, Stephen Hawking, or Jonah Lomu had.

    I do not need to achieve the same as others who are smarter than me or were born with better fortune to feel satisfied. All I need to do is raise my kids 10% better than I was, the same as my parents did 10% better than theirs, then within a few generations my family will be as successful as any other.

    I tend to avoid thinking like Bryan and Mary because regardless of its statistical validity, I find it pointless and unhelpful. Yet I find Nigels viewpoints reassuring and comforting, it is a position I can work from.

    Throughout human history, I think about 1% of people were born into a healthy environment according to modern standards, yet in my view, due to the efforts of these people from ‘unhealthy’ environments, society has become progressively more and more enlightened as humanity builds upon each generation. We do not merely repeat the past, if we get it right overall our children should be smarter, taller, healthier, and wiser than us.

    It would be very sad, if as we come to a time of privelaged and elightened oppourtunity for more and more of our children, we lose sight of the values and character of our parents that brought us here.

  43. As a woman who was sexually abused as a child, I also have been informed that statistically I am more likely to abuse my children. Well so far that is not a reality.

    A friend asked me once, “If you could change one thing about your life what would it be?” When I said I would not change anything he asked me why.

    I told him that everything that has ever happened to me has made me who I am today. It may have created unfortunate weaknesses in me but it has also created significant strengths too. I know how not to allow myself to become a victim, I know that not everyone is untrustworthy and I know that some of the people we are told we should be able to trust should not be trusted and I know that instinct is a good thing.

    Sorry but people who say that they were unable to help themselves because they had a bad upbringing are just using excuses for bad behaviour. It’s just like the people who say the Devil made me do it. People who will not take responsibility for their own actions.

    I thought Nigel’s parenting show was great. It let people like me know that we are good parents even if we occassionally get frustrated with our children and need a little time out of our own.

    In my opinion there are 3 types of parents. 1 Those who don’t really bother to parent and think society should be responsible for raising their offspring, (This includes the ones who think dicipline is a bad thing and the ones who just aren’t around). 2 Those who think that their kids need to have every minute of their lives planned out so they are so restricted they can’t breath. And 3, the ones who know that being a parent is a gift and children need some boundaries but also need room to breath and grow into independant, happy, functional members of society.

    I can only hope my son will look back on his life and be able to say that there was nothing he would want to change either.

    • As a woman who was sexually abused as a child, I also have been informed that statistically I am more likely to abuse my children. Well so far that is not a reality.

      I like your comment very much, Jo and I admire what you’ve achieved in your life. But your argument misses out one significant ingredient – your genetic inheritance. Our personalities are shaped by a composite of nature and nurture. The two can be at war and which part dominates can explain why one victim of abuse goes on to abuse his/her children while another defies the environmental odds. I think Nigel would agree that we are born with certain personality traits. Yours may be an inner strength that has brought you to where you are. Thanks for your comment.

  44. I think what Jo had to say was perfect and true. Good on you.
    My only comment is I didn’t appreciate the final advert/video Nigel used about condoms I saw the funny side but didn’t agree at all.
    But I feel that Nigel’s way of presenting the show and advice was perfect. I think the Major message he wanted to give was don’t take things so seriously and enjoy the small things with parenting. Teach morals, respect of your body and other peoples body. Teach Honesty and live it. Be an example of love to your children.
    Life is far too short to be getting all hell bent on being sucessful and having the perfect life. Life is life, its a gift, celebrate and love it and enjoy your gift, share it with others. We could be worse off. Be thankful that you can have children and endure the hard times they will come and go, you will come out beter off in the long run. and laugh all the time dont take it all too too seriously but keep it controlled within reason.

  45. I thoroughly enjoyed the Politically Incorrect Parenting Show. I have always taken the common sense approach with rasing my preschooler. However the coffee groups & play groups i attended were full of knobheads that were always quick to tell me what I was doing wrong. Why i wasn’t helping wee man up the 3 rung ladder (he can actually climb it himself…after he fell only once)or allowing him to play with Potato Stamps…i’ve been told that it’s unacceptable to play with food and use it as a form of “messy play”. How bloody ridiculous! These parents have certainly wrapped their children in Cotton Wool and you can see the frustration on these childrens faces. What a funny picture it was on the week after the first few episodes of Nigels show when they were horrified that we allow our kids to take risks and learn from them. Of course i felt like giving them the 2 finger salute, as they have often made me feel like a bad mother because I challenged my son and allowed him freedom to explore (with boundaries – christ we parents aren’t stupid!). Fast forward a few weeks and guess what – there are more kids joining my wee man on the ladder! Think the message I got from Nigel’s show is to use my noggin, it’s there for a reason – and so far so good.
    Now i just have to read Mothers and Sons – cos i know a whole other storm is brewing…

  46. It seems to me that the majority of the mothers who join those coffee play group things are uptight know alls who enjoy bragging about how brilliant their so called wonderful brats are. Most of the children I have met from parents like that are either undiciplined holy terrors or so sheltered they don’t know how to enjoy being children.
    Our house is certainly a cotton wool free zone. My son is two and a half and loves adventuring and climbing all over the place and he hates it when we interfere. He is very quick to tell us to back off when HE thinks WE are being too clingy. Just the other day when we were out, my son was walking up some stairs all by himself and one of my friends was getting rather nervous because he was worried my son might fall down. My friend was a little concerned that I was not up there helping him walk down. I knew my son would be fine and he was getting frustrated enough with my friend trying to help him without me putting my 2 cents in.
    I do help my son when he asks me too or when I see he is having real dificulty but most of the time I let him work things out for himself and even when I do help him I ask him how he thinks it should be done so he can learn something from it.

  47. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing websites that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free. It’s the old what goes around comes around routine.

  48. Mr Edwards makes the same mistake as all liberals make: because some parents are bad, all parents should be regarded with suspicion. Mr Latta isn’t making a programme for abusive parents, he and other professionals deal with those parents through our social services. His programme is aimed at the majority of parents who are NOT abusive, and who do not have to be constantly chastised for the sins of a few.
    If being a liberal means that I must view all parents as abusers or potential abusers as Brian edwards does, I’ll take social conservatism thanks.

    • Mr Edwards makes the same mistake as all liberals make: because some parents are bad, all parents should be regarded with suspicion.

      I suppose this would be rather like my accusing all conservatives of making sweeping and totally unfounded generalisations on the basis of this one comment. Nowhere have I said or even suggested that “because some parents are bad, all parents should be regarded with suspicion.” The entire basis of what you call my “liberal” position is that we should be forgiving of people’s faults and crimes, since so much of what we are is determined by our genes and environment.

      Perhaps you should re-read my original post to see what I was really saying.

  49. [I]Perhaps you should re-read my original post to see what I was really saying.[/I]

    Okay…

    [I]The trouble is that when you tell people it’s OK to feel angry with their kids, but don’t say how angry or what they should do with that anger; or when you say it’s OK to tell your children to go out and play, but don’t say for how long or how often; or when you say kids should be allowed to engage in risky activities, but don’t define an acceptable level of risk; or when you categorise aggression as a desirable quality in young people, but without giving any clear definition of what you mean – when you do any of that, you are effectively giving carte blanche to a range of attitudes and behaviours far wider and potentially far more destructive than you may have intended.

    The ‘ear flick’ man was angry and punched his kid in the face. OK? ’Why don’t you go out and play?’ is a common parental mantra disguising lack of interest in the kids, their interests and ideas. OK? High-risk activities among young New Zealand men are responsible for a disproportionate number of fatal accidents in that demographic. OK? And aggression – is aggression ever really OK?

    I got it of course. I’m a highly intelligent, highly educated, 71-year-old liberal. The Herne Bay matrons in their SUVs, who were probably Nigel’s target audience, would have got it as well. Relax! Chill out! Go with the flow! Stop beating yourself up! Parenting is easy. Just do it.

    That, Nigel told us, was how our parents approached bringing us up. They just did it. Ah, the good old days! Well, in my good old days we had corporal punishment in schools and the strap and the wooden spoon were commonplace instruments in the discipline of children. OK?[/I]

    The irony of course being you then followed it up with this

    [I]To justify this sort of facile, once-over-lightly, crowd pleasing stuff you have to generalise from extreme examples. [/I]

    Which is precisely what you are doing when you use extreme examples of poor parenting to vilify a programme intended for families who do not abuse their children.
    As for your ‘liberal’ position, you yourself stated your views as such and decried opposing views as ‘closet social conservative’.

    Regards
    Iain

    • Iain. The programme was never billed as “intended for families who do not abuse their children”. After a couple of episodes it became clear that that was in fact the case. And one must in any event assume that any programme broadcast free to air will be seen not just by one group but by a wide spectrum of society.

      I think it was Nigel whom I suspected of being a closet social conservative, based not only on this programme but on his series on killers as well. I guess liberals do tend to decry the views of social conservatives, and vice versa. Healthy enough really.

      Cheers

      Brian

      Anyway, I’ll stand by my original post.

  50. I had a “discussion” with my husbands’ young cousin the other day about the “boy racer” problem we are currently experiencing in Christchurch in recent times. In my opinion its gone well beyond a joke.

    He is one of the annoying little sods that goes about in his car cruising with his little minded friends. They get drunk and stoned and go about causing all sorts of random annoying shite. He understands that he and his mates are a problem to most law abiding people and admits that he has thought twice occasionally when he and his mates have done stupid stuff.

    It is interesting talking to a young person these days about their opinion on stuff like this because even some of them agree it is rather out of control but they seem to think that it is only a problem because the police try to stop them from doing what they want to do and they have to fight back by doing it more.

    I suggested that maybe the government should bring back compulsory military service for young people without jobs. He said that would be a breach of their human rights. Its interesting how they seem to bring up how something breaches their human rights but they are quite happy to breach other peoples human rights when it suits them. Like the right to live free from abuse from jumped up little free loaders who think society is their bank account and other peoples property is their play ground and the right to a peaceful nights sleep without some disrespectful little hoon constantly driving by the window at all hours of the night in some huffed up modified car with an exhaust system that sounds like they’ve just trapped a pissed off bumble bee in a giant soup can.

    Most young people of today seem to have no morals, no respect and no common sense. They think the world owes them everything and if you suggest they actually work for the dole they receive they will almost riot in the streets. The funny thing about it is that most of this is caused by society itself.

    I’ve spoken to a few older people about the issues of today’s youth and they all seem to say the same thing. “Back in my day we didn’t have the trouble they do today because children were brought up with things to do. We had chores to do and if we didn’t do them we didn’t get to do what we wanted to do.”

    People spent more time doing things back then and they made sure they were done right. These days, people are so caught up with how to get more things done in a day and don’t necessarily get any of them done right and it all shows in the finished product.

    Today we have a modern washing machine, clothes dryer, microwave oven, dishwasher, vacuum cleaner and daycare. The average parent of today gets up in the morning, gets dressed, sorts the kids out, puts a load of washing in the machine, throws last nights load in the dryer, unpacks the dish washer, loads the breakfast dishes into it again, throws the vacuum cleaner around the floor, takes the kids to daycare and then does an 8 hour day at work, picks up the kids, goes home, takes something out of the freezer, puts it into the microwave, sorts the kids out for bed then goes to bed themselves. Just to do it all again tomorrow.

    Then because the parents realize they don’t spend enough time with their children they over compensate by doing everything for them and trying to make sure they have every latest gadget or fashion item and making sure they think they are special and wonderful. They buy them fast cars and allow them to go out unsupervised. They don’t tell them off or do anything that may hurt their feelings because they don’t want their kids to hate them for not spending time with them.

    Finished product is a society of parents and children who are completely disconnected with each other and young people who grow up thinking they are so special and wonderful they shouldn’t have to do anything to get anything, (but don’t really know how to do anything anyway), they have no respect for the things they have or the people that gave it to them and because they know all about their human rights and how to exploit them they break the law and know the police or members of society are pretty much powerless to stop them. The people who break the law seem to have more rights than the people who don’t.

  51. Ah, great to see that the PM has selected such a fair and impartial judge to carry out the S59 review investigation. Terms of Reference

  52. Nigel Latta has somehow managed to find himself a niche in our increasingly low-brow media environment. Before he became to high profile I went to see him speak, hoping to hear some useful child-rearing advice or ideas. I wanted to walk out after 10 minutes when I realised he is a conservative, pedestrian, wannabe comedian. His main message is that we must not tolerate disrespect from children, or dire things will happen. It seems to me that disrespect to children, not from them, is the cause of our ending up 29th out of 30 in the OECD report.

    And who the hell trusts someone giving parenting advice whose other job is fronting those voyeristic and nasty crime shows, the sole purpose of which is titillation.

    There are a lot of good people out there working with kids, whose work is based on sound research but I guess they don’t have the ambition and media savvy of Nigel.

  53. Thanks!!!

  54. I like a lot of what Nigel has to say. It is not full of this “guilt ladden” stuff that many go on about today. It is obvious to the majority of us parents (who are actually quite intelligent), that there is a difference between what Nigel talks about, and other extremes like abuse etc.
    I never knew that one had to be very specific about these things when covering a topic of parenting. Goodness knows Nigel could do seasons of this stuff on TV if he was to go indepth into the ins-and-outs of what is abuse, and what isn’t. If only our issues of abuse in the world could be fixed by books,and a tv show.

  55. I think The Latta guy needs to start thinking about wat efects his aamazingly broad statemets and cliams might have on parents of young children especially. I have emailed TVNZ and asked for decision making process re airing this programme – wcould collectively ask for that under Official info Act rules?

    • I think The Latta guy needs to start thinking about wat efects his aamazingly broad statemets and cliams might have on parents of young children especially.

      I agree with your sentiment. Don’t think programming decisions would come under the Official Information Act though.

  56. Finally saw 15 mins of nigel Lattas show ,that was enough for me so I googled his name and ended up happily here.Brian imho your 71 yrs have been well spent and I find your opinion in this case to be worthy of a show in itself.Perhaps we could call it the Brian Edwards Show or the Public Eye,it would be far more usefull to me as a parent than Nigels show. I feel Nigels show is a case of give a man a fish rather than teach him how to fish.The topics he covers use headline grabbing statements and lack any depth of analysis or alternative solutions.Nigel Has become imo a media darling . Much like many other media darlings he needs to feed the media with what it wants.This generally does not provide a great basis for parenting but certainly makes popular entertainment.Does Julie Christie have any input into this show?It looks like it to me.

  57. Apparently Nigel Latta now stands publicly accused of being a social conservative? He fails to display towards violent criminals the milk of human kindness and depth of understanding espoused by that erudite humanitarian recipient of the Media Peace Prize? All this recalls to mind an old Ybor City proverb: “Blessed is he who taketh himself seriously, for he doth create much amusement.”

  58. I find Nigel Latta’s programmes full of common sense and I wish my children were watching it – I will be buying them copies of the DVD. My grandchildren are ‘wrapped in cotton wool’ and there does not seem to ever be consequences for bad behavior. For example I have never seen the children sent to their rooms or made to apologise for bad behavior. They also seem to have a lack of respect for other adults. I hate to think what this young generaton of children will grow up like – their parents appear to have no control over 5 year olds so how do they think they are going to cope with a stroppy teenager??

  59. A brilliant programme, I bought the DVD to show my friends and family here in the UK.
    It brings common sense back into parenting, life is competetive and choices always have a consequence.I wish there were more people with the same mind set as Nigel Latta.
    Jan

  60. So Nigel makes his points by citing extreme examples. That’s standard oratory technique, and from what I saw he used it (mostly) effectively. I’m sure that highly intelligent highly educated 71-year-old criminal psychologists can soak this parenting info up like a sponge, but the target audience for this show are are average kiwi parents, and for them the extreme examples help the message to “stick”.

    So Nigel doesn’t set bounds on anger or risk or agression. How can he? Different bounds are required for different circumstances and any attempt to suggest arbitrary limits for the entire target audience would be meaningless. I get it, of course. Some parents might use his advice to justify showing zero interest in their kids. But I expect such selfish people would already be well practiced in making up excuses for their actions – this programme wouldn’t make too much difference.

    And there’s something to what Nigel is saying. My children (3 and nearly 5) are role models at their daycare and kindy – happy, confident, compassionate, and well behaved. When other parents ask my secret I tell them we used 3 simple rules to guide our parenting:

    1. Feed the good behaviour (with attention), starve the bad.

    2. Make bad behaviour their problem, not your problem.

    3. Recognise the attention hierarchy:
    – Kids prefer good attention (play, praise) to bad attention (scolding)
    – Kids prefer bad attention to no attention (so if they are ignored, they will act up)
    – Kids prefer parents attention to anyone else’s attention (so the attention of parents in particular, is the big influence on kids’ behaviour)

    I know from experience these three rules work. And guess what? Nigel Latta covered all of them.

  61. I wholeheartedly agree with BE on Nigel Latta. That he has some good methods to recommend does not mean that everything he says is correct. The whole program from “unpolitically correct” title to the extreme examples given as the result of “political correctness” is structured to juxtapose the ridiculous against Nigel’s “common-sense” ideas, thereby increasing the perception that he is common-sense. And yes, much of what he says does work and is common sense and is not rocket science (which is his point). So, why the need to pander to the right wing in order to sell common sense as common sense? Why introduce discipline in the form of a timeout with a rave about how the “anti-smacking” legislation (to adopt the common misnomer) has paralysed parents?
    I agree it’s show-biz, but it’s dangerous show-biz. Because it encourages the holders of fanatical believers of “spare the rod spoil the child” that they are correct and their opinions are popular enough for a prime-time slot on network TV. I have encountered a mother in a playgroup who confidently delivered smacks to her 12 month old baby for wriggling while she changed him. She cited Nigel Latta as authority and asked if I thought she was a bad mother. I said yes, I thought that smacking a one year old was bad. Socially awkward, yes, but this is how wires get crossed.
    Further, I have found watching the show, that personal preferences is mixed up with professional opinion. For example, Nigel was talking about how he thought the how idea of the walking school bus was “a bit naf really”, then he actually participated in one and thought it was quite cool. This is clearly just arbitrary personal opinion – but it is wrapped and delivered as a forensic psychologist imbued with the authority of expertise and of fame. After hearing him pontificating about the “walking school bus”, I am uneasy about how much of what else is said is professional expert opinion and how much is “just what Nigel thinks today” and whether Nigel or his producers are aware of the difference.

  62. What an amazing read … very interesting stuff … and very funny in parts … I also have grandchildren, actually 6, 4 of whom are very young, 2 are babies … the 4 of these children are “wrapped in cotton wool”, their parents do not like the difficult rules and regulations of ‘The Nanny’ stuff … So many formulas … I wish I had known the stuff that Nigel is teaching when my kids were little … What ever anyone says on here, its good stuff that Nigel has, its easy to understand and accept, it has a little humor, it comes from experience, personal and work related, I would just like to thank him for being real … If it helps some of our young people today bringing up the next generation, I say … Go for it … WELL DONE … And thank you so much for helping my children have a better idea of bringing up their children … There is always controversy in this stuff, I had a very abusive upbringing … Bless you for showing us another way which is logical and easy to grasp … Jo

  63. I’ve only watch one episode of “Beyond the Darklands” and it’ll be the last.

    Nigel is a self-righteous, judgemental twerp!

    To hear him attribute 100% of blame on abused kids, without a mention of the criminal justice, mental health system and our societal responsibilies to children (ESPECIALLY ABUSED ONES!!) shows me he is clearly looking at the problem subjectively and probably with a view to profit from his books and TV shows.

    Nigel is a classic example of puritan, Christian hypocrasy.

  64. Well, well…what a difference a year makes? Seems our Nigel is not as sharp as he would like us to think. Read the June 2010 issue of ‘Investigate’? To settle the argument does he receive payment for psychiatric assessments from CYF? The answer is yes, so ‘independant’ he isn’t.
    ‘Pro smacking’ I don’t think so. Just a bit of ‘Freudian’humour to lower your guard.Did you get fooled? Tell the truth John!Now who’s in the goldfish bowl?