Column: When a '˜grand'child comes to mean something new
There was a time, not so long ago, that it was mandatory for children to be seen and not heard but it seems that we have gone full circle in the intervening 100 years or so.
Quite right too, comes the cry from the majority of decent thinking folk, who can’t imagine the bright futures of tomorrow being marginalised like their Victorian ancestors once were.
Of course there is a counter view from a vocal minority who fear that we are breeding a generation of spoilt brats who know the meaning of nowt.
The case for the prosecution is a strong one: today’s children are arguably the most important consumer group and don’t they know it. To make matters worse there is an army of parents (and I include myself in this) who are unwilling to put up any sort of resistance to the I Want Brigade at the first sign of a wobbly bottom lip or crocodile tear.
My generation, the one which grew up in the 1980s, hardly endured austere early years, unlike our parents and grandparents, and it seems that many of us are ill-equipped to say no to our belligerent little cherubs.
We live in an age where most children have access to a digital device of some description not to mention scores of television channels, meaning that their knowledge of what is available to them in the big, wide world is greater than at any time in history.
There is steady production line of easy-to-make documentaries about precocious youngsters which provide an insight into the extremes of parental overindulgence and one has provided a talking point about one particular 11-year-old, whose parents spend £1,000 a month on her. Written down in black and white, the expenditure is at first shocking, especially when you consider £500 of that goes on the latest fashions.
While I am hardly a fashionista myself, the thought of spending a monkey a year on clothes leaves me in a cold sweat so that figure, multiplied by 12 and all on a little person, seems more than a little ridiculous.
But I am certain that this particular child isn’t the most extreme case out there because I have asked myself the question that if I had the means would I be able to show restraint and resist spending a small fortune on my children? Although I would like to think that the millionaire me would show some restraint, I cannot say for sure because, like many parents, I will do almost anything for a quiet life, especially if the cost is a couple of quid here and there. But it soon adds up as does the cost of the never ending extra curricular activities.
It seems every child now attends at least three clubs, groups or after school lessons each week, none of which are free. Such after school activities are not new but the cost of them are higher than ever before.
Does not being able to say no as often as we should make us bad parents? I think not but there is a genuine worry as to whether future generations, the ones who will leave university with huge debts and will struggle to get onto the property ladder, will ever have a grasp on the true value of money.
It seems the £1,000 a month child is here to stay.