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understood that they would have to do something to deserve a gift. In Sweden, children were encouraged to see a distinction between wanting and needing something new. Toys and belongings appeared to be better looked after in these countries and there was less of a tendency to discard objects when they were broken. The importance of time with the family is frequently mentioned


during the research discussions in all three countries. However, work commitments put pressure on parents in the UK and reduced the amount of time spent with children. The report said: “In the UK we fi nd parents struggling to fi nd time to


“Separated families, work commitments, anxiety about fi nances and dependents can all put pressures upon parents.


Sometimes buying material goods can seem to be a justifi able quick fi x.”


be with their children to help them participate in sporting and creative activities but instead feeling compelled to purchase consumer goods which are often neither wanted or treasured.” A strong feature of Spanish society is the role of the grandparents and


the extended family. Celebrating and sharing upheaval together are seen as fundamental aspects of family life and young people’s behaviour can be moderated by the knowledge of the impact on others within the family.


Further reports The UNICEF report is not on its own in drawing attention to the issues that exist for families in the UK and the pressure they are under. The Bailey Review on the Sexualisation and Commercialisation of Children similarly raised concerns about the power of commercialism. Following this report, the advertising industry and businesses were


exhorted to apply their own moral codes to advertising and campaigning. However, with lack of subsequent legislation it is unlikely that businesses struggling in the current economic climate will be in a position to take notice of these requests. The Impact of the Commercial World on Children’s Wellbeing: Report


of an Independent Assessment raises concerns about the vulnerability of children and the need for there to be a level of consumer, fi nancial and media literacy. It advocates that as the commercial world is not about to disappear, “it is vital that children (and indeed adults) understand it critically…in the case of media literacy in particular, there is a strong case for making this a much more substantial core of curriculum entitlement”. The report, A Good Childhood: Searching for Values in a Competitive


Age from the Children’s Society, suggests that there is a lack of confi dence on the part of adults to talk about values and that this is leading to a void which is being fi lled by excessive individualism, materialism and consumerism. The importance and role of the extended family is highlighted in Think


Intergenerational: Connecting generations to support communities, by 4Children. It emphasises the value of intergenerational practice and the need to encourage contact between different age groups. It highlights the number of changes there have been in patterns of living and the increased separation and isolation of families in the UK. We are seeing an increasingly older population and the balance


between the number of pensioners and children is shifting. This is placing pressure on many families leading to: ■ The “sandwich generation” – usually women juggling with caring for their older parents and children.


■ The “club sandwich generation” with people in the middle of a four generation family – elderly parents to care for, their own children needing fi nancial help and grandchildren who they provide regular support for.


Separated families, work commitments, anxiety about finances


and dependents can all put pressures upon parents. Sometimes buying material goods can seem to be a justifi able “quick fi x”.


Continued on page 12


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