When Modern Consumption Becomes a Style of Parenting
If we observe carefully since the Second World War, the cost of living has steadily been rising while the purchasing power of our money has been steadily decreasing. This is the economic reality we live in today. Ten dollars today buys us far less than it did ten years ago. This economic reality forces parents to spend more time at work and on their careers or business and less time at home with their families. This is a daily challenge that the majority of families face. In most cases today, the primary role of the parent has become one of income generation as opposed to being the emotionally mature and physically available parent/role model that children so badly need. In an ever growing amount of cases, the parent may have two jobs, taking even more of their precious time away from their family. The consequence of all of this is that many parents today have less and less time to connect with, and become healthy role models for their children.
To make matters worse, our society offers one of the most important jobs or roles in the world, that of being a parent, no training about how to be a parent. No training in understanding the child’s developmental needs as they progress from infants to teenagers. According to the pioneer of the self-help movement, John Bradshaw, children experience five different stages of childhood developmental needs, namely infant, toddler, pre-school, school and teens. In each of these stages there are very different needs that all children have. If any of these different needs are left unmet during childhood this often leads negative psychosomatic disorders in adulthood. Furthermore, due to a lack of genuine parental time to provide unconditional love, the child’s developmental needs are compromised which in turn severely impacts the healthy growth of their self-esteem, self-worth and ultimately their Inner Foundation. Again, this often unconscious neglect can lead to serious negative consequences in adulthood.
For many generations the emotional connection of unconditional love has been largely neglected within the family unit.
Many of us have grown up in environments where this connection and unconditional love was absent or limited and often replaced by material needs and rewards. Often parents may compensate for their lack of spending quality time and energy with their children by providing material gifts. It is somehow easy to use money to resolve a time/emotion problem. This using of gifts to pacify the child both eases the guilt within the parent and appeases the child on a superficial level. We have been educated under the patriarchal system with the belief that having the food on time, enough clothes and being an achiever and well behaved is enough. Stuff, possessions, replaced time, love and attention. However the child still needs emotional intimacy on a deeper level and if this human need remains unfilled there are very real consequences in adulthood.
Dr. Shefali, world-renowned clinical psychologist and author of Conscious Parenting says, “Just because our children came from us it doesn’t mean we get to dictate to them How it is they express their essence.” For a parent that has not done their own healing work that can be a hard truth to swallow, when adults often live their lives through their children. To make matters more complicated many parents have not taken the time to do their own healing work and so are often unaware of the unconscious patterns they are playing out. This means that at an unconscious level that we as adults are often projecting the same patriarchal authoritarian belief systems on to children that we received as children. The inter-generational trauma cannot be interrupted and stopped if we do not do our healing work.
Could it be, that the lack of time and unconditional love inside the family unit and the excessive time and energy given by parents to survive in this modern day consumer economy, is one of the leading causes of the psychosomatic disorders we see today in adults? When parents have less time and energy to give to their children and act as role models, children look elsewhere for these role models. Dr. Gabor Mate explains this reality well in his book “Hold on to your Kids” that “Children take their lead from their friends: being ‘cool’ matters more than anything else. Shaping values, identity and codes of behavior, peer groups are often far more influential than parents.”
Today’s current rates of depression, suicide and homicide among teens and young adults is a very real and present danger that society and us as elders are badly failing the next generations. We need to learn how to become better role models so we may guide the young generation more wisely and skillfully. Doing our internal healing work is one of the main and only ways we are going to heal our families, schools and communities and ultimately become better role models. Simply put, parents and non-parents (adults without children) need to devote more quality time and energy to their own healing work and less time on distractions and buying stuff. This way, they may heal from their past adverse childhood experiences and the societal and family conditioning so present in our patriarchal system today. A system that has suppressed men and women for far too long!! Times are finally changing, in part due to those prioritizing their healing work and the simultaneous shift in consciousness that is taking place across the planet today. If you feel drawn to begin your own inner work join our Self Empowerment Course.