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Shuttleworth, A. (1985). Being a Parent. Free Associations, 1B(1):7-23.

(1985). Free Associations, 1B(1):7-23

Being a Parent

Alan Shuttleworth

I would like to focus on the impact that parenthood has within the context of the individual's movement along a lifetime. Three vignettes set the scene; in them, from different perspectives, we catch glimpses of this stage of life.

A patient of mine — a seventeen-year-old boy — recently emerged from school into the world of Youth Opportunities, formulated his notion of the human span. Beginning from about as far back in time as he could readily remember, he said:

When you're between 8 and 11 you just want to watch T.V. all the time — that's all you're interested in. Then when you're about 16 you become interested in music and going to discos and having girl friends. Then when you're about 23 you get married and have children and all that goes into the background.

Well, one knows what he means, and his phrases do have a summarizing power, but it would be nice to have something more than we could expect him to be able to say about this stage when, in his words, You get married and have children and all that goes into the background.

The second glimpse comes from the time when I first started working as a social worker and used to travel around North Kensington receiving, as may be imagined, a considerable education. Part of my caseload consisted of families with children, burdened by difficulties of one kind or another.

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