The hardest of hearts will have gone out to Britney Spears, the pop singer, who was humiliatingly dragged out of her house by the authorities earlier this week after apparently locking herself into the bathroom with her children.
Britney may just be the best-known tip of the iceberg. With surveys pointing to high levels of binge drinking among the middle classes in the UK; divorce rates on the up; and work/life balance being ever more difficult to achieve, we may be entering a parenting crisis.
The venerable BMJ (British Medical Journal) put it this way recently: "In the past., having children involved two teenagers falling in love, having sex, then being forced to marry at the age of 20. LIfe was straightforward, with clearly defined roles and a script. The children tumbled out, and parents just muddled through."
Not any longer.
So it’s no surprise to see smart entrepreneurs picking up on the parenting theme as the next big service-economy opportunity. Already the counselling and psychotherapy industries are booming. The private equity community long ago spotted the potential in the childcare and nursery industry.
Anastasia Baker, founder of Night Nannies, recently launched a new partnership with leading parenting expert Jan Stimpson. The training course, says Baker, "will explore our own childhoods, the parents we are and the parents we most want to be now and in the future.”
The downfall of Britney Spears may just have a happy (ish) ending.