Linda Colling: Pressure on parents

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I WANT never gets,” was my mother’s mantra. It’s a saying that’s quite gone out of fashion these days with kids given all they ask for and more by parents who have grown up being given all they craved.

The word “No” is seldom uttered lest there’s a screaming match, and that goes in the discipline stakes too.

It’s easier to cave in to their demands and the same goes for letting them get away with bad behaviour. That’s why we have so many unruly, spoilt children. And it’s not their fault. They have grown up knowing no other and cotton on quick that their every wish will be granted.

They know from knee-high how to manipulate parents too weak to instil the values that will set them apart from their friends who are indulged to such a degree that it’s become the norm.

Ninety six days to Christmas and there’s no anticipation or expectation in homes where it’s Christmas all year.

Birthdays and Christmas no longer hold the magic for children who have so much they don’t know what they want.

And that’s all down to parents showering them with expensive gadgets and designer labels – guilt money for not spending time with them, as a Unicef report found. Parents are trapping their children in a cycle of “compulsive consumerism.” In other words they are spoiling them rotten.

And that’s not making for happy children. While parents feel “tremendous pressure” to “pointlessly” splash out on goods for their children, the kids are crying out for more time with them.

The study of 250 children from Spain, Sweden and the UK, found that youngsters’ happiness was dependent on spending time with a stable family and having plenty of things to do, especially outdoors, rather than on owning cutting-edge technology or branded clothes.

Sad that we put such little value on family life unlike the Spanish and Swedes who make it a priority and the compulsive consumption of our society is almost completely absent in their countries. Now the charity is asking the Government to consider following the example of Sweden and banning television advertising aimed at under-12’s.

Here we equate things with happiness.

It’s a myth, but one parents are sold on buying into. Yes they are pressured by their kids who are preyed on by advertisers and their friends who have got the latest in trainers and toys, but that’s because they seem to be afraid to set the standards and say “no.”

Dr Agnes Nairn, the author of the report said “Parents in the UK almost seemed to be locked into a system of consumption which they know is pointless but they find hard to resist.” That’s crystal clear in homes like this where a 16-year-old lad and his 14-year-old sister have a lap top each, flat screen TV, an iPod each and high-tech mobile phones which you can never speak to them on because they have no money to put on them.

They are typical of teenagers who want for nothing and don’t know what it is to save up for anything because everything is given them on a plate. And where does this all start?

At one day old one little mite’s doting dad bought her a pair of Converse trainers for £25. Ever since she’s been dressed in designer clothes by parents who want to make a statement.  

Doubtless she’ll be given a cash reward for a good school report like one I know of, who got a PlayStation and showered with lolly like so many were for their GCSE’s results. Any wonder the monkeys are running the zoo?