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MU urges ban on 'pressure' of children's Christmas lists

09 November 2012

by a staff reporter


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 him."

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 mu@themothersunion.org or phone 020 7222 5533.

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