UNICEF says parents under too much pressure to buy things for children

A new report from UNICEF UK has claimed that British parents are caught in a cycle of compulsive consumption and are under enormous pressure to buy expensive material goods for their kids. The study, which looks into the well-being, inequality and materialism in children, compares family life in Spain, Sweden and the UK. Parents in the UK also struggle to spend time with their family due to working long hours.

It also highlighted how many are taking in two or more jobs in an effort to make ends meet. British parents also find it hard to find the time to help their kids to take part in sporting and other outdoor activities, this is stark contrast to Spain where children’s activities are a priority and extended families help out to make this happen.

The reports also says that some parents in the UK complain that they are too exhausted to play with their kids when they get in from work, whilst many of the kids who were surveyed said that they hated it when their parents didn’t make time to spend with them.

There are also suggestions in the report that British parents buy new material objects for their children to try and make up for relationship issue and insecurities. It also says there is a massive disposable consumer culture in the UK and there are houses full of discarded and broken toys and the compulsion to constantly upgrade and buy new items.

It’s a different world in Sweden and Spain, where toys and other electronic gadgets were well looked after, repaired when broken and are cherished and treat as long term companions. Parents in these countries are also more confident about enforcing boundaries, and find it easier to say no to their children, unlike those is the UK.

Rules and boundaries in UK households are less clearly defined, and parents feel guilty about enforcing them when they hardly spend any time with their kids. UK families rarely eat together and many children flatly refuse to do any household chores resulting in tensions and possible arguments.

Reg Bailey, the CE of the Mother’s Union, who the government commissioned to conduct a report on sexualisation and commercialisation of UK children, has said this week that the many of the issues highlighted in the UNICEF report echoed his own research. He said that once again, we were seeing an emphasis on commercialism and possessions, instead of parents giving kids what they really needed, their time.

Consumerism is a major problem throughout society, and something that needs addressing sooner rather than later. There seems to be a serious lack of confidence amongst parents when it comes to actually changing things. Parents in the UK are permanently tired and feel that any improvements involve an uphill struggle. When you are tired, it is easier to just let things so, and not think of possible repercussions.