Watching your poor eleven plus child work through the school holidays must make you wonder sometimes if the saying that one needs to be cruel to be kind is apposite. Hamlet, however, used the words when he was talking about his mother:
“So again good night.
I must be cruel only to be kind.”
(Hamlet’s mother was not a good mum!)
But what happens in the family if you want to teach your child a lesson about working when he or she does not feel like work? You may, for example, want your child to do some `real’ work. Sadly the Children and Young Person’s Act of 1933 prohibits anyone under the age of sixteen from engaging or being employed in street trading. You can not, for example, send your child out to sing on the street corner – or offer anything for sale. I am not sure, however, about the wording in the 1989 version of the Act – and how much it relates to children accompanying their parents to Boot fairs – or organizing garage sales of used eleven plus papers.
There is, however, special provision for children taking part in entertainment. The 1963 Children and Young Person Act prevents children under the age of 16 taking part in activities where a charge is being rendered – unless the Local Authority has given permission. The license can only be granted if the local authority feels reassured about the child’s welfare and educational provision.
(Back in 1933 the Act prohibited a child from taking part in any performance in which life or limbs would be endangered.)
Very few eleven plus parents would want their child to feel that he or she was being treated harshly or unfairly over the holidays. Even fewer eleven plus parents would want to have a protracted argument with their child over working through eleven plus papers. (“Leave it off, love!”) Sitting in the car and watching their eleven plus child beg for alms must also be rather low down on the list of desirable activities.
Hamlet’s words, however, go on to say:
"I must be cruel, only to be kind:
Thus bad begins and worse remains behind."
Parents can only exhort their children to work hard and do their best. Parents can only say that one day it will be worth all the hard work.
In an ideal world children can only look lovingly at their wise and wonderful parents, accept the inevitable, cease arguments, and get on with the work.