UK parents in cycle of guilty giving

BRITISH parents are plying their children with expensive toys, gadgets and designer clothes in a guilty attempt to make up for the lack of time spent together, according to a study by UNICEF.

After comparing parenting in Britain, Sweden and Spain, the UN agency said yesterday that British parents and their children were locked into a “compulsive consumption cycle” where parents rarely said no to their children’s demands and even felt compelled to buy them the latest status items.

It found that British families often “co-exist” under the same roof rather than share time and space together, with children in their “media bedsits”.

The study’s conclusions chime with recent comments by British Prime Minister David Cameron about poor parenting, which he blamed for the recent riots and looting. But it suggests that the over-indulgence of children is just as prevalent among middle-class parents as it is in under-privileged families. Parents of all backgrounds feared that if their children did not have the latest gadgets they would be picked on and stigmatised, a fear virtually non-existent in other countries.

The UNICEF report is a follow-up to a controversial study it undertook in 2007, which concluded that Britain was the unhappiest place to be a child in the developed world, with the highest rates of drunkenness, obesity, bullying, early sexual intercourse and poor health.

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