As well as being a mum and a singer I also work as a radio presenter and producer. My show is for Unsigned artists and I meet some incredibly talented people. This week an artist who is also a friend of mine (Jules Rendell) sent me a new track she has written which was inspired by the 2009 Children’s society report. The song is called Never been Loved and it’s in response to the findings, which basically said that children are more anxious and troubled today than ever before. It largely put this down to parents striving for material success and pursuing their own self-centered ends rather than the needs of their children.
Wikipedia puts it like this: The Inquiry’s report, A Good Childhood: Searching for Values in a Competitive Age , was published in 2009 and received considerable media coverage, including from the BBC. It found that ‘excessive individualism’ is causing a range of problems for children today, including family break-up, teenage unkindness, unprincipled advertising, too much competition in education and acceptance of income inequality.
The song is fantastic and speaks of discovering an unconditional love that can spur you on to hope but what really impacted me was the summary of the findings that she sent along with the track (above).
This ‘excessive individualism’ can be seen throughout our society and I agree that it’s spreading like an endemic disease. It is all the more deadly because it is not only seen as acceptable, but the norm. We are programmed from an early age to strive and compete to ‘have it all’. In deed in this day and age we believe it is our ‘right’ and that we in fact deserve it. What’s worse is many young people are growing up believing these ‘things’ should come their way without doing a thing to contribute to themselves or the society they live in. This dissatisfaction with life is what I believe was at the root of the recent UK riots primarily amongst the youth: Young people who feel the world owes them more without having to earn it in any way. And it is not just the under-privileged youths that have this attitude. Middle class children who want for nothing, have the latest gadgets and get everything on their Christmas list are also turning into adults who ‘expect’ material gain with little effort. But as super-nanny would say (bless her) usually it is not the child’s fault for their behavior and attitude.
Along with this, the lie is sold that by gaining these ‘things’ you gain happiness and fulfillment along with it. Mums and dads who work all hours, most days just for a luxury 2-week holiday twice a year are modeling this same attitude. I must say I get challenged every Christmas when I find myself wanting to buy BearCub every toy I see that I know he would love. However I had a stark wake up call recently when he started to ask and expect a new toy every time we went out. I had been spoiling my child. At the risk of sounding all ‘when I was a wee lass’, when I was a child we had secondhand toys which we were overjoyed with and I remember my sister and I crying for joy when my mum managed to scrap together enough to get us a second-hand Commodore 64!
We ought to be showing our children what is important in life and the only way we can do that is to find out what really fulfills us and make sure we’re living our dreams too. This will inspire our children that happiness and fulfillment equal success – whatever the route there may be for each individual.