Controversial parenting mum admits: “I let my young sons swear, draw on walls and try alcohol”

Bea Marshall insists there’s nothing wrong with allowing her children to do what they want and claims it makes them confident and independent.


by Ellie Henman |
Published on

Last week a mum made headlines when she lost custody of her children after the judge accused of her of giving them too much freedom.

She was attacked for allowing her two sons, aged 11 and 14, to do what they liked – including playing video games all night.

The judge criticised the unnamed mum’s “permissive parenting” style and said she’d failed her two sons by not providing ‘proper guidance and boundaries essential for the social and emotional development’.

But shockingly mum – Bea Marshall – tells Closer there’s nothing wrong with allowing your children to do what they like.

When Bea’s sons Peep, nine, and Jos, seven, swear at her or start drawing on the walls she doesn’t tell them off.

The 35-year-old - who took inspiration from a technique called Yes Parenting, where you avoid saying no to your child - says:

“I don’t believe in setting boundaries. I’m happy for them to occasionally watch TV all night, eat ice cream for breakfast and I let my children swear because they're only expressing their emotions. Jos shouted, ‘f*** you’ at me the other day because he was angry that I wouldn't help him find a toy. But i'm proud he feels he can express himself. Peep used to swear all the time and say he was 'f**king annoyed' if he was struggling to do something but he does it less now, he knows it's not nice.”

Bea lives with her sons, Jos, left and Peep, right
Bea lives with her sons, Jos, left and Peep, right

And defiant Bea, a brand consultant from Sheffield, says she doesn’t worry that she’ll have her children taken off her.

She says: “The woman who lost custody of her kids for 'permissive parenting' sounded neglectful. Her idea of freedom isn't the same as mine. I let my sons play video games, but they're a 12A at most. And although they can watch three films in a row - even if it means staying up until midnight - I don't think it's harming them. Jos once asked to live with his dad because he said our home wasn't calm enough, but it was funny because he's the one who causes all the chaos.”

Bea - who split up with her children's dad last year - adds: “My parenting style has made my children confident and self-aware. Everyone should try it.”

The controversial mum hasn't always been so relaxed about raising her children. But after reading a book about Yes Parenting when Peep was three and Jos was one, she decided to try a new way of doing things.

She says: “Until then I’d always followed Super Nanny’s rules, I had a naughty step and was strict about Peep’s routine. Yes Parenting is completely different - you don’t say no and let your children have a say in almost everything. I don't follow it to the letter but I believe it teaches them to be independent and to understand their own needs from an early age.”

Bea began allowing Peep to choose his meals and his bedtime and Jos was allowed to make decisions for himself too, including what clothes he wears.

The boys were home-educated, but Bea had to send them to a local school when her marriage broke down, and they initially struggled with the routine.

Bea allows Peep and Jos to draw on the walls and swear

Bea says: “Jos doesn’t like having to sit down and read quietly. His teacher is understanding and he's getting better now. They found the early starts tough too because they were used to getting up late. But I have some limits - they have to go to school.”

However, Bea still allows her boys to choose when they go to bed - even on school nights.

She says: “They normally go around 8:30pm, but it has been as late as midnight. They're often groggy in the morning, but I want them to learn on their own what their body's telling them. The boys do homework if they feel like it, the school has never complained about a lack of work."

Bea also gives her sons free reign over their diet

She says: “They come shopping with me and they tell me what they fancy such as curry or a casserole but if they ask for a pizza or burgers I don’t refuse. They can eat in front of the TV or in their rooms if they like, but if we're at a restaurant or my parents are round, they sit at the table.

“Sometimes Peep or Jos have ice cream or sweets for breakfast, but they also eat lots of fruit and veg. Unless it's a risk to their health, I won't deny them what they want. They're both obsessive about brushing their teeth, too."

The boys are allowed to have sweets and ice cream for breakfast when they ask for it

Bea doesn’t even draw the line at alcohol.

She says: “They’re allowed to try anything I have – but only a sip. They've tried beer, wine and spirits. By letting them try a tiny bit, they don't feel like they're missing out so I think they’ll be less likely to binge-drink when they’re older.”

Bea’s style of parenting has divided her friends and family.

She says: “It upsets my mum if the boys don’t say please or thank you, or if the f word slips out. If we’re with her, or with other friends and family, I’ll explain to the boys that manners are important, but I won't force them - I want them to learn in their own time.”

But Bea insists the boys' upbringing is actually making them better behaved and says she’s preparing them for the future.

She says: “People think my boys will be brats, but they’re not. They’re bright, caring and make friends easily, and they don't get involved in fights with other kids. They may be loud and excitable, but what young boys aren’t? They argue and sometimes hit each other, but we sit down and talk it through. I am so proud of them.

“My boys might draw on the walls and shout and swear but they’re expressing themselves like all humans do. I'm raising them to have strong principles because they're the next generation of men. I want them to make their own choices now, so they'll be less likely to rebel when they're older.”

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