Merry Bloody Christmas xxx

Christmas TreePretty much every parent starts out on parenthood full of the best intentions.  “I’m not going to spoil him.” “I’m not going to lose my temper.” “I won’t let them watch too much TV.”

For most of us parenthood is the process by which you watch those good intentions crash and burn as inexorably as you child insists on getting older, hopefully wiser and undeniably bigger.

I had really hoped to shield Luca from the worst that our materialistic society throws at children; the never ending wants; the obsessions with stuff; the process of turning a small individual into a small consumer.

It’s a losing battle.  He loves stuff.  No parent, surely, wants to be mean.  If you love your child as fiercely as I – and I’m sure I’m the rule and not the exception – then constantly saying no to equally constant demands for stuff feels mean.

Christmas is followed all too quickly by Luca’s birthday.  The things that he definitely wanted absolutely more than completely anything else in the whole entire world four months ago were not the same as the things that he really, really, ever so had to have with just four weeks to go.

Most of that pile of presents under the tree is for him.  Obviously not the mulled wine.  He hasn’t figured out how to undo it, tip it into a pan, turn on the stove and warm it to a suitable temperature yet.  But most of the rest of the stuff.

At least two of his five parcels from me are books and a third is batteries for a fourth.  But five parcels nevertheless feels like a lot – and that’s only part of what he’ll get.  There will be more come birthday time – though for his birthday I’ve mainly accumulated craft materials and bought some bits and pieces to make him a craft box.

So much for the less stuff huh?

The difficult truth of it is that while you may be the centre of your child’s world you are not the whole or even the most of it.

But while there’s the inevitable influence, for good and sometimes ill of peers and teachers, there are less benign intruders into our children’s’ worlds.  I’m not thinking of the obvious targets – the warped souls who want to interfere with our their bodies – I’m thinking of the highly paid people in snappy suits or expensively casual outfits who work in the world of advertising who want to interfere with their minds.

There are lots of lies told not just in advertisments but about advertising.  The biggest lie is that advertising doesn’t work.

The UK advertising industry is reportedly worth around £11-12 Bn a year.  Some of that spending will be entirely useless, but smart people who run successful businesses don’t waste as much as 5-10% of their turnover on marketing that simply doesn’t work.

And any parent of a five year old stupid enough to let them watch CITV or other children’s channels that carry ads will know how seeing something on screen can translate instantly to ‘I want’.

Very few parents want to live in that sort of world. But most of us feel pretty powerless to protect our children.  Even if you ban channels with advertising the ad guys find ways to get to them.

Would it be so unreasonable to ban adverts aimed at the under 11s.  After all 95% of primary school children (I’d like to say 99.99% but I fear I might be wrong) have no money of their own and can’t make independent buying decisions.  They simply pester their parents.

So make the advertisers target the parents.  We’re still susceptible but we’re a heck of a lot better at saying no.

For some reason no one seems to have raised Cain about the very notion that a multi-billion pound industry that has raised the manipulation of adult desires to an art form should be allowed to turn its dark arts on children whose defences against this sort of thing are negligible to zero.

Just as they should be allowed the innocence of childhood in all the ways society already accepts, shouldn’t our children be free to be themselves before big business grabs them and brainwashes them into being little blue consumers or little pink consumers?

I suppose this is my way of saying Merry Christmas.  I’d just like it to be more figgy pudding, more togetherness and less plastic crap.

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2 Responses to Merry Bloody Christmas xxx

  1. shan oakes says:

    completely agree…so let’s get a petition going?

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