In Loco Parentis


I was chatting to a friend the other day about an article they had read in some broadsheet. It concerned the idea of ‘affluent neglect’. She seemed to find the notion rather provocative and controversial. My only response was to ask, ‘why?’ The proposition that wealthy parents are often physically and emotionally unavailable for their children is hardly news. They are just like the rest of society. It’s also a bit of a movie cliché. Rich Kid with wealthy parents and access to a boatful of cash becomes disenfranchised with a world in which a paid nanny, cook and other things that can be hired and bought replace the parents who are never around. He, of course, rebels, in which he more often than not dates someone from a different socio economic just to ‘spite’ them. During this dalliance, which will inevitably evolve into something meaningful, he comes to understand that this love interest and her close knit family has the only thing that matters..cue envy, revelation, catharsis and happy or sad resolution.

I suppose the only shocking element is that such affluence can’t buy them the two things we all crave. Love and time. The single mother nurse who has to work a zillion hours to cover the rent , while lamentable, can at least justify the reason why she’s doesn’t sit down for dinner. But then I suppose a rationale can be found for the affluent businessman or woman too. Often, the desire to achieve is partly what defines them. If they weren’t out conquering industry they’d likely be out in the streets launching themselves at one other. I’m sure I remember reading some statistics about captains of commerce and personality disorders. Apparently they share psychological traits, but in the case of the former, the need for control, dominance and power etc. is refocused and expressed in a more purposeful and ethical enterprise. They probably have some mantra of Darwin printed on their ties. It comes as no surprise to learn there are some that apply this repurposed Darwinian narrative to their own child’s achievement, somehow equating top performance with superiority over the rest of the country. Incidentally, it always seems a little laughable to me, that places like St Pauls Girl’s School and others, apply such rigorous and competitive entrance standards. It puts me in mind of Chelsea football club. How is it an achievement to be at the top of the academic listings when you have all the best players? Now, I’m not suggesting that these kids are ‘best’ or better, but I am saying that they are clearly very capable academically. This skews the playing field. Besides, a school not willing to take anyone who finds such work challenging is clearly not very nice in my book.

2 Responses to “In Loco Parentis”

  1. Claire Calvey

    Funnily enough I’m writing a column only today about children and the magic of Christmas, with a focus on how modern parents feel that spending more money on their children equates to a more magical experience for their children, with for example trips to Lapland or the like. When I asked my eight year old, for the purpose of the column, why he found Christmas magical, he replied without prompting that it was because daddy was around all the time and we got to see relatives. I was quite surprised by this response. Have you seen the Ikea Christmas ad about this?

    • Becs Eyre

      That’s a very powerful ad and says so much. It was interesting how the parents found it quite painful to recognise that it is simply their time the kids wanted most. A lesson for us all. Thanks for sharing. Let’s hope it goes viral and makes parents stop and think. It sounds like your 8 year old has the right idea!


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