In what way is parenthood commercialised? Most parents simply try to get along, doing the best for their kids with the tools available to them. There is no rule book to being a parent; we just do what we can do. Finances come into it, we support the kids when they need it. We nurture them and watch them grow. We hope they have good lives. What’s so commercial about that?
This is a good question. As we become parents and then spend the next twenty years trying to lead the good life with our families we don’t really consider the nature of our roles. Sure we have to deal with the odd moral crisis here and there but generally we simply seek to do our best. No absolutes, just situations we need to get through. Commercialisation doesn’t come into it. Except it does. In almost every single way you can think of.
Like Orwell’s Cormstock* it becomes apparent that without a certain level of finance available then life can be fairly miserable. Except when your family is involved there is no laughing matter, just harsh realism. Absence of money pre-parenthood can be dealt with by stoicism and doing without. Two things become apparent when children are involved: 1. Explaining to them they need to do without is very difficult, 2. We don’t want them to do without. We believe that we are obliged to provide for our children, which is fair enough. But in recent years that provision seems to involve a lot more, from school text books through to broadband, and everything in between. This is something which has in the last twenty years become ingrained to the 1970/80s generation, but giving your children what they, the Joneses and their peers want, is not the same as giving them what they need.
When the average 40 year old was growing up the freedoms we enjoyed, away from the prying eyes of parents, seemed natural enough. Today in what we thought was the correct balance of liberty and security we instead have a dystopian realism in which our kids are not to stray more than five yards away, in case danger devours them. Childhood has changed, but children have not.
Our decisions, for the most part, are based on the values and mores of the financial system we live in. We have made a silent pact with ourselves which puts the material things of the world before the more ethereal, and more important, aspects of humanity, like compassion. Our children will inherit these values, a well as other sins of the fathers. Strangely all of this seems to have happened by accident. We are just doing our best for our kids. Yes that new pram means I need to spend more time at work, but she needs it, doesn’t she?
* Gordon Cormstock is the protagonist in George Orwell’s reflective novel ‘Keep the Aspidistra Flying.’