Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Why smoking does not make Britney Spears, or anyone, a bad parent.

If any of our Hagley Road readers are parents, or spend time around little children, you’ll be well aware that its very difficult to keep them under your watchful eye at all times. A home, school or any place is hazardous and kids are always interested in picking things up, poking objects and generally investigating their surroundings. Especially children as young as three, like Jayden James Federline, Britney Spears’ first born.
Pictures emerged last week of an amazingly replenished looking Britney relaxing at home on her terrace in L.A with her son. She was talking on her mobile phone, and smoking a cigarette whilst her son was rather cheekily fondeling her fag packet. Just across from him was a bowl filled with lighters, the latter of which he was not touching. Wheras smoking in front of your child is in most people’s opinion a bad idea, what happened next were the actions of any attentive parent.

If the pictures are to be believed, Britney clocks him a matter of seconds after and removes the packet from his hands. Good one, you’d have thought, that’s what any person would do, isn’t it?
Granted it’s not conventional to leave an open packet of cigarettes and a wide choice of lighters within easy reach of a child, but it’s also not a good idea to leave, for example, a mug of hot coffee on a table when a child is near, or unprotected plug sockets, electrical equipment, exposed wires, the list could go on and on.

It’s common knowledge that children usually emulate the actions of their parents when growing up, and as a recent TV advert demonstrates, smoking is the top activity. But we must not be eager, like the majority of gossip magazines have done over the past few days, to tar everyone with the same brush.

Smoking the odd cigarette does not make you a bad parent. Much like drinking alcohol in front of your kids does not. My mother, grandmother and most of my close family smoked solidly throughout my childhood. They also enjoyed the odd sweet sherry, G and T and ginger wine in front of me, too. Something I was allowed to do also when I was 11 and onwards, on special occasions. I was very happy and not neglected in the slightest. This is the case with most kids who’s parents smoke, drink moderatly and, quite frankly, live normal lives.
The most disgusting thing about this ‘news’ is that it’s yet another cheap shot at an alarmingly vulnerable woman, a woman whose children have been taken away from her, and who is struggling with various psychiatric demons.

Just because you’re a famous person, it doesn’t mean you are given the ‘perfect parent get out of jail free’ card and make zero mistakes. You are like anyone else. I’d like to spend a few days with the paparazzi who took these invasive photos, check whether they lock their fags and booze away and make a list of the bad things they do around their kids and then publish them online.

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