As I have already written in the posts A Philosopher As Parent (Part 1) – Stefan Molyneux and A Philosopher As Parent (Part 2) – Ten Commandments to Parenting Wisely being a parent is a tremendous challenge because of the demands of needing to be there for our children and also being wise in how we choose to guide their first precarious steps in life.
So I share with you (especially parents) a pertinent BBC article which suggests, perhaps rightly, that we should spend more time with our children rather than just buying them material goods (mostly purchased through guilt of not being with them enough to begin with).
I agree, because not only does it teach the children the wrong values about who they are (they will end up treating the goods as being more important than themselves), it can also inadvertently produce a bunch of spoilt, materialistic brats who will probably end up respecting designer labels more than the parents.
However, one cannot blame the parents entirely for this sad state of affairs. We need to look, as a whole, at the society in which we live. I think in most households, parents would love nothing more than to spend quality time with their kids, as I’m sure they know it would produce a more positive and healthy effect on both the child’s general well-being, and growth of both mind and spirit.
As I have mentioned before in the post The Wonderful Wisdom of Becoming a Child Again the parents may even learn something of much worth by their interaction with a child.
However, as most of us experience daily, we must work for our daily bread; with that bread being money which is obviously needed to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table, and put clothes on our backs.
Unfortunately, work takes up a huge chunk of our time and energy during the day – time and energy which would be better served in spending with our children.
What can be done about this? Obviously the neglect of children, which could lead toward the breakdown of family relations, can be avoided if the people, who run this so-called society, would choose to instigate a wise solution. Maybe they can somehow find a way to, perhaps, cut down the working hours whilst, at the same time, subsidising families.
Parents will then be able to spend more time with their children, especially when at an early age. You just need to observe and learn from how animals treat their young.
This will hopefully not only strengthen the emotional bonds between parent and child, but will also help develop healthy and stable individuals in adult life due to a loving and invigorating upbringing.
I feel society would be better for it, and if we actually acted on this problem beforehand, we would probably not have had the type of rioting and looting for materialistic goods that the UK recently suffered, which was in my opinion mostly perpetrated by a disillusioned and misguided youth.
Anyway, here is an excerpt of the insightful article ‘Our children need time not stuff’,
Why are British children so unhappy? Four years after Unicef sparked national soul-searching with analysis showing child well-being in the UK at the bottom of a league of developed nations, the organisation has attempted to explain our problem.
The answer, it seems, is that we put too little store on family time and too much on material goods. Unicef paints a picture of a country that has got its priorities wrong – trading quality time with our children for “cupboards full of expensive toys that aren’t used”.
“Parents in the UK want to be good parents, but aren’t sure how,” the research suggests. “They feel they don’t have the time, and sometimes the knowledge, and often try to compensate for this by buying their children gadgets and clothes.”
The research compares Britain with Sweden and Spain. While the UK languishes in 21st, and last, place in the child well-being table, they come second and fifth respectively.
One reason they perform so much better, according to Unicef, is that in both countries “family time is protected” and children “all have greater access to activities”.
“In Sweden their social policy allows family time and their culture massively reinforces it. In Spain fathers do work long hours, but the extended family is still very important and women stay at home to look after their children.”
The report argues that the pressure of the working environment and rampant materialism combine to damage the well-being of our children. They want our attention but we give them our money.
“All children interviewed said that material goods did not make them happy, but materialism in the UK seems to be just as much of a problem for parents as children,” the research concludes. “Parents in the UK often feel compelled to purchase consumer goods which are often neither wanted or treasured.”
It is a profoundly depressing analysis of British life, not least because it rings true.