Once again the Government is sticking its nose in and telling parents how to be parents.
I read recently that a couple took their children out of school so they could have their first family holiday in five years but they now risk being jailed after refusing to pay fines.
The couple were initially fined £360 after the family of five went away for a week at the end of September, but were unwilling to pay. The penalty then doubled to £720 because they did not pay the fee within 21 days.
This makes my blood boil.
If it isn’t already expensive enough to go on holiday, the Government sticks its supposedly well-meaning oar in, pretty much making it impossible for regular families to enjoy time away together.
While I totally understand and commend the importance it is placing on an academic education, the Government has failed to realise that family holidays are also important to the wellbeing of children.
With rising air taxes, annual holiday price increases and now this new legislation, it truly seems like holidays are really only for the rich."
In this age of working parents, children spend less and less time as a family unit and holidays are becoming an essential part of family life. Holidays don’t have to be flash, but spending quality time together doing fun and interesting things creates a very special bond between parents and children.
As a daughter to hoteliers, I was always allowed to take my holidays in term time and they became a magical and essential part of my life.
When you grow up in a hotel, you don’t see your parents very much – especially in the six weeks of the summer holidays. My parents never came to sports day or celebrated my July birthday.
However, those slights didn’t seem to matter so much as come October, I knew I would have two uninterrupted weeks with my mum, dad and big sister.
Without those, I think we may well have fallen apart as a family. I have very fond memories of those times and they weren’t without their educational side either.
My dad taught me to swim in Spain. My love of reading grew on a particular wet holiday to Malta when I devoured 12 or so books over my two-week break. I learnt to love different cultures, foods and languages while visiting various European destinations – something that sticks with me some 30 or so years later.
I would never recommend taking a GCSE or A-level student out of school during term time but would one or two weeks a year really affect a regular student’s ability to learn?
Holidays don’t have to be flash, but spending quality time together doing fun and interesting things creates a very special bond between parents and children."
The kind of parents the Government wants to tackle with this new ruling – the ones who don’t get involved in their children's education – won’t care two hoots about whether they get fined or not. However, it will affect those mums and dads who do actually parent their children and make wise choices on their behalf.
It’s also practically a tax on the poor. With rising air taxes, annual holiday price increases and now this new legislation, it truly seems like holidays are really only for the rich.
I’m not alone in my opinion. Richard Singer, European managing director of online travel deals company Travelzoo and a father of one, has set up an e-petition to Parliament on this very issue, hoping to escalate a debate on the issue of family holidays in the Commons.
I’m off to sign his petition to try and persuade David Cameron and Nick Clegg - both fathers themselves - to let parents do the parenting.
If you care enough about parents being allowed to make their own decisions on how to bring up their children, I suggest you do the same.
Jayne Cherrington-Cook is the Acting Lifestyle Content Manager at BT.com. She can currently be found tweeting various politicians to tell them to leave family holidays alone! #fighttheparenttrap
This article is the opinion of Jayne Cherrington-Cook and not necessarily that of BT.