A Guilty Parent Makes for a Solvent Kid

Kids always have “pester power” at their disposal when they want their parents to buy them something. In saner times, the parents resist. But something has changed of late, suggests a Datamonitor report. Children now stand a better chance of getting their way because they can exploit the increasing fund of parental guilt. Why are parents feeling more guilty? Because they’re spending less time with the little ones. The epidemic levels of divorce, says Datamonitor, mean millions of children can pursue a divide-and-conquer strategy. Since kids of divorced parents spend time with each separately, they are able “to manipulate these moments by playing one parent off against another and thereby having a higher response to their requests.” The moral: If divorce rates ever begin to plunge, dump your stock in companies that market nonessential items to children. Even where couples are intact, though, increased time at work often means decreased time for one’s kids. It’s not solely a matter of work time displacing family time. “As people aretypically spending more time in the office, they also prefer to spend their free time away from their families in order to relax and socialize.” And who can blame them? Their kids, that’s who. Needless to say, this leaves parents feeling even guiltier and more vulnerable to their kids’ badgering. “To relieve this guilt, they often increase pocket-money levels in order to compensate for their absenteeism.” Along with guilt money, the kids are also in a position to rake in “reward money” as parental time constraints create a labor shortage at home. “Parents reward children for helping around the house, whether through preparing a meal or tidying up, and thus economizing on the parent’s time.”Lise Metzger/Tony StoneGDT/Tony Stone