Lack of family meals to blame for bad-mannered children, say headteachers (UK)

Evening Standard UK 09 March 08
The demise of the family meal has produced a generation of children with bad manners, headteachers warned today. Growing numbers of parents struggle to teach children basic social skills and need help to “rediscover what being a parent means”, the Association of School and College Leaders said. The union’s general secretary, John Dunford, said that for too many children, school was the only part of their lives where they experienced clear moral boundaries. Speaking at the union’s annual conference in Brighton, Dr Dunford said the demise of the family meal had severe knock-on effects for children’s social skills.

“For some children schools have had to take the place of the institutions that used to set the boundaries of acceptable behaviour – that was fundamentally the family and the church,” he said. “In relation to the family, one of the most important factors has been the loss of the family meal, which has reduced family conversation so that schools have more to do in teaching children to communicate. In terms of good manners and appropriate behaviour, primary schools have to teach children how to use a knife and fork and sit at a table.” He said schools “can’t and shouldn’t replace the role of parents”.
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23450675-details/Lack+of+family+meals+to+blame+fo+bad-mannered+children%2C+say+headteachers/article.do

See also: Teachers are surrogate parents now (UK Telegraph)
The demise of the traditional family is breeding a generation of children who are increasingly relying on teachers to become surrogate parents, a prominent education leader warned yesterday.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/03/10/nfamily110.xml