London, Mar 10 : Lack of a traditional family meal has produced a generation of kids with bad manners, head teachers have warned.
Since parents allow their children to eat while watching TV, the responsibility of teaching kids how to communicate with one another has come on the shoulders of schools.
The Association of School and College Leaders has blamed parents for failing in their duty to instil basic morals and good behaviour in their kids.
John Dunford, the union's general secretary, speaking at the union's annual conference in Brighton, said that for too many kids, school was the only place where they experienced clear moral boundaries.
He warned that lack of 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," The Daily Express quoted Dunford, as saying.
"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 added.
Hugh McKinney, of the National Family Campaign, said: "The role of both school and parents in raising children is very important.
"No one side can adequately do it without support from the other but it is up to us all to make sure that children are raised properly and effectively within a family structure.
"The family meal is only one part of that process and the onus has to be on parents to raise children properly."
Dunford said it was a disappointment to see that schools have been left to fill the gap and it was time to 'rediscover what being a parent means'.
He also accused the 'cult of celebrity' for encouraging the young generation to think that fame and success can come easily.
"It's perhaps a sad indictment on the present age that we accept the need to help parents to play their part - to rediscover what being a parent means," Dunford said. The cult of celebrity is promoted in a base and distasteful way, and social advancement is presented as something best gained through the purchase of a lottery ticket rather than hard work.
"The way in which the cult of celebrity is presented in the media makes it appear that success can come easily. Schools are based on the connection between hard work, passing exams and getting a good job.
"People forget that high-earning footballers have to train hard, that pop singers have to practise for hours and it makes the job of the school more difficult," he added.