Last week the Sunday Times Style mag informed parents, in a feature, that current ‘cool’ parenting involved letting up on the health & safety obsession and behaving more like 1970’s parenting bohemia. Does this mean people actually listen to this diatribe and then model their lives around it?
It’s like fashion isn’t it: “this season lace and leather are IN” and so everyone, who needs to be force-fed, rush out and buy said leather and lace. I know this is all obvious and people buy into this shit and why not? But, by jiminny, it’s enough to drive you crazy with frustration. “Ooohhh” harps on Vogue – knitting is IN – well – it never went bloody OUT, folks all over the world continue to knit, sew, create without having to be told whether it is fashionable dahhhhling or ney.
So, back to the 1970’s – my dad used to wear his shirts unbuttoned almost to his navel, his sideys were super-long and fat and hairy and my mum, who was doing a silver-smithing course at the time, made him an enormous silver N medallion (N for Nigel), which nestled joyously amongst his dark forest of manly, (so I thought then and still do – despite the fact it’s now silver) chest hair.
Hair has become a pre-occupation for the 21st century hasn’t it? Single girlfriends inform me that, both males, and females on the dating scene are expected to be hair-less. I cannot believe it, what is more sexier and natural than a hairy man? A hairy woman – no-less. But shit – it’s extreme – I worry for my children’s hair’s future – shouldn’t they realise it’s congenital and entirely NORMAL to have barnet all about?
But, ahem, back to the point…why do we always need to be told what to do. We as a ‘civilised nation’ have definitely lost our way haven’t we? Have we lost the sense of listening to our inner voice, our instinctual understanding of right and wrong?
For me parenting definitely follows a kind of 70’s crazy-paving path, presumably because I grew up in that great, hairy era and my experience was, generally, positive – give or take a couple of brown viscous hand-me down dungarees – and I aim to re-create that innocence and simplicity for my own children.
However, it ain’t easy in the 21st century, lets be honest, holding onto innocence and 70’s values – is, quite possibly laughable, but also bloody hard-work.
In my youth: ITV was EVIL and BBC was GOOD – it was that simple. Today, however the sheer amount of children-centred media is astounding – it is a saturated market. My mum didn’t have to continuously screech ‘NOOOOOoooooo’ every-time we walked into a shop, due to the endless rows and rows and rows of children’s magazines all suffused with cheap, plastic tat on the front and placed entirely at children’s nose height. It has a name in the advertising industry: Pester Power. The toys, clothes the sheer adultisation of childhood today is horribly unhealthy – yet everybody who is, vaguely, intelligent knows that, yet no-one, none of us, does anything about it.
Few insist on a diet made-up purely of the BBC, brown dungarees, porridge and a general reigning in of all things considered unnesessary: the internet, wii’s, consoles, mobiles …but – the pressure is enormous and continues to grow as children grow older and outside influences get stronger.
Although I may be wrong in these decisions, I will continue to fight the onset of too much modernisation and adultisation for as long as I can, in a bid to fend for that brief pop at childhood innocence…we all once briefly tasted.