THE Mothers' Union (MU) is urging families to ban their children
from writing to Santa Claus with a Christmas list. The organisation
says that it does not want to spoil children's fun, but that the
tradition puts a huge pressure on parents to buy gifts that they
cannot afford - particularly after the economic downturn.
The argument is supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Dr
Williams said: "There's a steady pressure on us as parents to buy
things for our children. It's a pressure that comes from our
children, and it often reflects the sheer volume of marketing that
they are exposed to on a daily basis."
A survey by the MU found that 72 per cent of the parents who
were questioned had bought their children a gift from a list that
they could not really afford. The same number also admitted to
buying gifts from their children's lists that they knew to be
unsuitable or not appropriate for their age.
The sheer number of presents under the Christmas tree was
another pressure. Eighty-four per cent of the parents in the poll
said that they had bought extra presents at the last minute be-
cause the pile did not look big enough.
The survey, carried out by ComRes, interviewed 1110 parents with
children under the age of 18. It found that the pressure was worst
in families with three or more children.
The chief executive of the MU, Reg Bailey, said: "We want to
ensure parents have the confidence to manage Christmas without debt
or the stress of disappointing their children. The majority of
parents we spoke to - 69 per cent - said that Christmas lists
create disappointment for children if they do not receive all the
gifts they have asked for."
The organisation has produced a new booklet as part of its Bye
Buy Childhood campaign, Labelled for Life: Managing the
commercial world as a family, which explains how marketing is
aimed at chil- dren.
Helen Goodman, MP for Bishop Auckland, is supporting the MU
campaign. She said: "I first started getting worried about
pester-power and the pressure advertisers put on children in 1997.
It was in the run-up to Christmas, and my son was seven years old.
The world just seemed full of people wanting to make money out of
Another survey this week suggests that fewer than a quarter of
adults plan to attend a carol service this year. The survey was
carried out for Premier Christian Radio, as part of its attempt to
get churches to set a new world record for the largest number of
carol-singers singing at the same time.
About 300 churches are expected to join in the record attempt,
on 16 December at 7 p.m. The current record of 18,114 in different
locations - including Scotland, Cornwall, and Geneva - was set by
the same event last year.
Labelled for Life is available for £2. Email
firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 7222 5533.