What is a good childhood?

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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 [8], was published in 2009 and received considerable media coverage, including from the BBC[9]. 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.


11 thoughts on “What is a good childhood?

    Older mum said:
    October 22, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    This is a very interesting post ….. we do indeed live in a very narcissistic society now. I apply this to Western society. If we role model self interest these are the values our children will grow up with ….. and so it goes on. Less importance is placed on relationship, empathy, community.

      morethanamummy responded:
      October 22, 2011 at 9:24 pm

      Older mum I agree, I think this is primarily a Western problem and there is no doubt what we model gets passed on to our children. Thanks for commenting.

    Nikki Thomas said:
    October 22, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    What a brilliant post! And very thought provoking. I gave up work to look after my children and it does mean that they can’t have everything that their friends have, as we can’t afford it. It kind of goes back to your recent post about working vs staying at home. But having worked as a secondary school teacher it was interesting that the troubled children were not always the ones with troubled home lives, often it was the spoilt kids who were just desperate for attention.

      morethanamummy responded:
      October 22, 2011 at 9:27 pm

      Thanks for your comment. I wonder if spoilt kid act up because what they crave is their parents attention rather than ‘things’ to compensate for lack of quality time?? I bet your children would rather have mummy at home than the latest gadgets – or at least most of the time 😉

    butterflyexperience said:
    October 22, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    Interesting Post.
    I’m a SAHM and I often question myself and reflect on how well the day has gone, have I done the right thing by the children, have I spent enough time with them, am I teaching them good values?
    And most of the time I feel as if I’m doing it all wrong.
    Untill my 3 year old asks a guest at our house if they want to stay for dinner. Or she offers her friends a toy to play with or on her own impulse states she wants to draw her friends a picture.
    I really do hope I’m teaching my children how to be happy and how to love others.
    I often feel like I’ve let them down by not giving them lots of toys or decorating thier room perfectly.

      morethanamummy responded:
      October 23, 2011 at 8:46 am

      Wow! Your children sound adorable and defintiely seems as though you’re ‘winning’ if that’s the result! I SO know what you mean though. Lately My 2 and half yr old BearCub has been testing every boundary known to womankind and then he’ll suddenly say ‘How are you mummy? Would you like a cuddle?’ and announce he wants to give ‘all’ his toys to a friend. I often feel like I’m making it up as I go along and hope for the best. I guess my point in this post is that is all we can do – ‘our best’ and to do that we need to make sure we’re modeling the lifestyle/attitudes we want them to adopt. I guess we’ll find out if we’ve done a good job in 20 years time!!! Proof and pudding and all that!!!
      : -)

    Rollercoaster Mum said:
    October 23, 2011 at 12:45 am

    Just discovered your blog and you have some great posts. This one is hard as I feel I don’t spend enought time with my kids (although more than I did as I was recently made redundant). I’m really enjoying being at home but I have to find another job as we cannot afford to live on OH salary. We don’t have a big house and we don’t have latest gadgets etc but we are not what I would call poor either, however the figures do not add up unless I work and even staying at home recently I am still not spending the time I would like with the kids as I am looking for work which is time consuming.
    I would dearly love to work from home, freelancing or something but don’t know how to start (so if anyone can give me some hints I would be really grateful).
    Anyway guess what i’m saying is it’s not that simple always.

      morethanamummy responded:
      October 23, 2011 at 8:42 am

      Hi Rollercoaster Mum and welcome to our blog. I am not a SAHM either. I’m a single mum and work part time too so life is pretty hectic. I don’t think having a ‘good childhood’ is necessarily down to whether your mum is at home or working (although we do debate this in a previous post working Mum V Stay ay home mum). This post is more about the values we are passing on to our children with regards to material possessions and what’s important in life. I think you could be a millionaire Mumpreneur and still bring up your children not to be materialistic and selfish. I guess if you have to work it’s about having quality rather than quantity in your time with your children. As for working from home, freelancing etc. I really beleive this is a breakthrough and the way forward for mums to have a fulfilling life and happy children which is why Ruth and I started this blog. Check out http://www.becomeamumpreneur.com/ run by Antonia Chitty and Erica Douglas they have lots of really helpful free e-courses to get you started. Let us know how you get on!

    Sarah said:
    October 23, 2011 at 8:35 am

    I agree that many kids are brought up to believe that the world owes them a living, they are entitled to have what they want and authority is to be flouted.

    I put this down to an interfering nanny state, welfare abuse and too much litigation.

    Still, parents can choose to bring up their kids like this, or not. I choose not to: I buy the boys second hand presents if I have to (they don’t care), and remind them that if they want to get somewhere in life they’ll have to work for it.

    We live in a reasonably-sized village and they are well-integrated into village life. I believe they are having a good childhood, with freedom to move, think and behave (within limits).

      morethanamummy responded:
      October 23, 2011 at 8:51 am

      Hi Sarah. Sounds like you’ev struck a really good balance. I’m still working on it but hopefully getting there 🙂

    What makes children happy? « More Than A Mum Blog said:
    January 13, 2012 at 8:41 am

    […] by the Children’s Society – ‘A Good Childhood’ which I blogged on some months back – here.  The previous study warned that young people’s lives are being blighted by Britain’s […]

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