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Catherine Deveny on Pernickety Parents


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The obsession with the perfect diet, germ-free homes, selective socialising, harm minimisation through choice of the correct fabrics, risk minimisation with helmets, knee and elbow pads, stranger danger and safe searches, baby gym and co-ordination augmentation is suffocating our children and oppressing women.

There has never been more time, energy and thought spent on the raising of babies, toddlers and children, and it is detrimental, counterproductive and narcissistic. Join 1970s parent Catherine Deveny, as she espouses the benefits of benevolent neglect, quality boredom and independence as a result of parental indifference, and rails against the obsession with child-rearing that is leading to a dysfunctional co-dependence – which inevitably affects us all.

Sometimes there’s nothing better than a good rant. Every Thursday, the Wheeler Centre hosts an old-fashioned Speakers’ Corner in the middle of the city, where writers and thinkers can have their say on the topics that won’t let them sleep at night.

Featuring some of our most compelling voices across just about every sector of human endeavour you can imagine, the themes dominating Lunchbox/Soapbox are proudly idiosyncratic. BYO lunch. Ideas provided.


Catherine Deveny

Catherine Deveny has been a comedian, writer and professional speaker for 23 years. She’s the author of seven books and over 1,000 columns for the Age newspaper, and is an ABC regular. She has appeared on Q&A five times — sitting next to John Elliott, Tony Abbott, Corey Bernardi, Peter Dutto... Read more


The Wheeler Centre

176 Little Lonsdale Street Melbourne Victoria 3000

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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which we work. We pay our respects to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, past and present.