As parents, we hear a lot about the importance of being the authorities in our own homes. I know it’s hard for us Boomers we’re the generation that was told to question authority, and no one is (or at least I’m not!) advocating a return to a 1950s Daddy-Knows-Best style of parenting. But the pendulum has swung way too far in the other direction .
I’m always bemused (and saddened) to see TV ads showing the wise children advising and chastising their parents like the Jared jewelry ad in which the three daughters surveil mom and dad opening anniversary gifts to make sure Dad went to Jared like they told him to: Hey, he apparently had enough going on in the romance skills department that he found mom, persuaded her to marry him, and fathered three children! Or the Wal-Mart ad where the Mom says she got a steal on some new items for the home, and her youngest says reprovingly, Mooom! so she reassures him she’s not a shoplifter; she just means a great price. Or the M. Night Shymalan movie where aliens come to earth, and Mel Gibson has a family meeting so they can decide how to protect themselves. I believe they go with the 5-year-old’s idea of wearing aluminum foil hats and remaining in the house (despite, oddly enough, their knowledge that the aliens are afraid of water and the fact that there’s a pond on the property with a boat hmmmm, I’m thinking) And it goes on and on.
As parents, I think we have to be counter-cultural and by this I don’t mean to Tune in, turn on and drop out I mean we should acknowledge and account for a culture that hates good parenting. Yes, I said hates because a well-parented child is not a mega-consuming fool, and there are many companies in the US economy who love it that your own hard-earned money is being spent with the judgment of a ten-year-old because they’ve gotten you to agree that your ten-year-old should spend it. Whenever money is spent by someone who didn’t earn it, more money is going to be spent. Companies love that. Companies do not want your kid to be well-raised, only because it would cut into their profits (they otherwise think your children are adorable!)
As a footnote to the above (Don’t hate me, Fortune 500!!), I will also acknowledge that it’s not just a conspiracy from the evil Mega-Corp that makes good parenting hard. Good parenting is hard, innately it requires such a confluence of skills, experiences and support. But you know that already, so like Nike says, Just do it! (See, even 40-year-olds can be shaped by massive ad campaigns.)
I know it benefits consumer culture to have children making purchasing decisions, but what can we be doing in our own lives to remain the authorities in our own homes? Any suggestions?
About Linda Falcao
Linda Falcao is a mother, attorney, founder of the youth volunteer organization www.americaserves.net and parent blogger for EP.