What do these stories have in common?
Story #1: USA Today reported that 9-year-old Hannah Robertson scolded McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson for “marketing fast food to children.” She was there they say, with the backing of her “nutritionally savvy” parents as well as the activist group, Corporate Accountability International. It picked up the family’s travel expenses to Chicago, where McDonald’s is based and held its annual meeting.
The adults who engineered the stunt achieved the desired outcome. Their fast food beef was covered by USA Today. Does any reasonable person believe that these are the age-appropriate concerns of a child? Is Hannah Robertson “nutritionally savvy” enough to know that there’s a difference between marketing food which allows you to choose whether to eat it or not, and imposing food restrictions with force as a certain Mayor of New York City has attempted but so far, failed to do? In that case, she has no choice. One has to wonder how much choice Hannah had in being used as her parents’ proxy for their political passions.
Story #2: An ABC News article featured a child named Isabella Barrett who was praised as a “six-year-old-millionaire.” The article appears on AOL News in the Career section. Hmmm, her career? Has little Isabella really chosen this vocation after rejecting flying school or an MBA? Or is she being pushed to play out her dressup fantasies in the real world by a mother who has no clue of what is age-appropriate for a six-year-old? Apparently, the media doesn’t either, nor do many others who celebrate this misguided notion of “success.” Isabella is yet another beauty pageant participant from “Toddlers and Tiaras.”
The article continues: “Isabella is now in first grade, and she’s already a fashionista. She owns more than 60 pairs of shoes and has her own pageant room worth more than $100,000…Isabella is young, but her spending is very grownup. She once spent more than $1,000 on room service and, during a recent trip to Los Angeles, purchased 14 velour track suits at a Juicy Couture ” I bought so much stuff it wouldn’t fit in the car,” Isabella said.
Today, it is apparently considered “grown up” to spend irresponsibly. What’s childish? The ability to delay gratification? The line has blurred so much between some parents and children that a child can emulate the childish behavior of her parent and she is rewarded for acting like an “adult.” Did you get that?
Story # 3: The troubled life of Michael Jackson is in the news again. New information about his personal life has come to light in the wrongful death suit against Conrad Murray. Like his longtime friend, Elizabeth Taylor, Jackson was robbed of his childhood. Apart from accusations of impropriety, many have speculated that Jackson’s childlike behavior and obsession with children was part of his attempt in vain, to get it back. Yet, the culture seems to be on a collective and “trendy dissent” toward more of the same.
The lack of understanding about the consequences of using children to feed the unrealized dreams and the personal and political agendas of adults should be disturbing. What’s more, the stories are mounting at an alarming rate.
It’s deceptively simple, but here is Kataline’s Remedy #1: Children need adults to be grown ups in order for them to successfully–grow up.