Hey, soft parents, your kid isn't a bohemian prince.
Romeo Beckham's parents think he's so fucking hip they make him live his life at a Dutch angle
Don't let that Whitney/Oprah "crack is wack" interview put you off: Mrs Bobby Brown did make sense sometimes. Children are indeed the future, but not just because they were born a few years after us, and will thus at some point automatically inhabit a future we're too dead to exist in. I reckon they could just be taking over, in general. Look at Romeo Beckham for instance, a young man who despite not even being born when Is This It came out, has managed to secure a Burberry modelling contract and topped the Tatler list (albeit a list that also features Clare Balding in the top ten, so I wouldn't put too much stock in what they say).
While I wish him all the best in the career his parents have chosen for him, you can't help but think that he's probably not going to turn into a very well rounded adult. It seems that child stars either go two ways, wilful obscurity, or total personality Krakatoas. They either end up like Mark Lester from Oliver! (a vet) or they end up like Lindsay Lohan (don't think I need to explain what that means).
You might think these are rare exceptions in our culture and that such a choice is only offered to kids whose parents have been desperately trying to make them famous since that first Pampers casting call. This is true. The problem is there seems to be a certain type of parent – aged around 30, well educated, middle class enough to wear a Barbour but not posh enough to golf – who made the decision to have kids at about the right time, but ended up treating them like they're the next Bieber, or Yo-Yo Ma, rather than what they are. Which is a dribbling runt whose ignorance of man's inhumanity to man is only protected by their youth, inexperience and tiny brain.
This is the generation that told their children they could be anything that they wanted to be, and "backstabbing arsehole" will be the vocation they all choose because of that.
First of all, we need to understand why they will grow to hate us.
There's a popular theory that overprotecting children makes them susceptible to allergies and other illnesses. The thinking goes that human beings are meant to immunise themselves to the outside world at an early age, and thus build up a bigger resistance to all the germs which will put you out of work for a couple of days later in life.
As disgusting as it sounds, kids are supposed to be out making mud pies, feeding each other grass that dogs have pissed on and playing with knives. They're kids, it's what they do. Of course there's a natural instinct to protect your children, but really, if you don't let them get this kind of behaviour out of the way at an early age, they're going to grow up to be sniffling, weak adults who can't eat in public and spend their time plotting revenge on the people who bully them in pubs.
Your children will not end up as strong, capable adults, but wheezing, needy man- and woman-children who will spend their days indoors writing bad novels about how much you overprotected them. They'll rue the day you ever stopped them from going paintballing and instead of running charity marathons when they're older, they be shouting down people on Reddit and writing their own suburban Angela's Ashes about you. And because everybody's living longer, you may well live to see the poisonous fruits of their labour.
While you're at it, how about you don't enforce your own fleeting idea of cool on them either? There's something about long hair on young boys that's become entirely representative of this rising generation of Cafe Nero Fauntleroys who will no doubt be running the country and cancelling my incapacity benefits in a few decades' time. Because as centre-liberal as their parents might be, with their baguettes and their Borgen box sets, children are always going to react against their parents. They're going to get sick of all the hair pulling and the kids from the Smalley Estate robbing them all the time and then they're going to get angry.
"Why did you do this to us?" they will ask their parents. "Why did you make us targets? Why did you buy a house on Murder Mile and then dress us like the staff of a Newquay surf shack circa 1997?" They're going to bemoan their parents for not taking that copywriting job at Saatchi & Saatchi on principle; they're going to resent them for forcing them to grow up anywhere that isn't Chiswick. They're going to go mainstream; there will be no interning at Amnesty for them. It'll be some future form of right-wing politics, rather than the creative industry quicksand pit that their parents toiled away in for so long.
They'll see them only just about managing the mortgage, and they will rebel. In fact, they're going to get to work on destroying the creative industry. They're going to hate their parents for making them go to pottery painting cafes in the same way that the original Haight-Ashbury crowd hated their parents for sending them to military school.
You've got to stop being so high and mighty about every facet of your child's existence. If your kid fancies a Happy Meal, don't treat it like they've just asked for a glass of lean and a blunt with their lentils. Hide things from kids and it fascinates them. They're going to start to fetishise places like McDonald's if you treat it as a house of sin.
Not everything in life has to be overtly "constructive" or "healthy". Obviously you don't want your child's talents to be wasted on Call of Duty headshots and meme generation, but it doesn't mean you should try to coerce them into being the next Vanessa Mae or that infant antique expert who became a transsexual. Because they'll probably end up giving up and resenting you for it. The only thing that ten years of piano lessons will leave them with is the occasional coked-up rendition of "Insomnia" by Faithless at a house party. Let them choose their own hobbies.
When I was too young to really understand what Eminem was talking about, we were into shooting each other with BB guns, melting everything and pirating Eminem's albums. Did this have a detrimental effect on my later life? Well, I suppose that's up for debate, but all in all I don't really think so. In fact, a lot of the most successful, happy adults I know (not that I am any of those things) were complete bastards in their youth. And all the most unstable, arrogant, depressed and dislikeable ones were definitely being driven to cello practice on Saturday mornings while their friends were mooching around town, putting fireworks in dogshit bins and firing spit balls at homeless people through McDonald's straws and other cool shit like that.
I'm not saying you should go and enrol your child in the Peel Dem Crew as soon as they can sit up without assistance, but kids are kids. They're dumb and they do dumb stuff. As long as they aren't actively harming themselves, or anybody else, cut them some slack.
Your decision to treat your kid like a bohemian prince or princess is no doubt a reaction to the slipperings, Spam and Morecambe & Wise Christmas Specials that your own parents subjected you to in your youth. All those changings of the channel every time Bowie came on Top Of The Pops, all those volume uppings when Jimmy Savile came on the same show. They were bound to fuck you up.
But stop for a second, and you'll realise that maybe some of the things that that generation of parents put you through were probably pretty helpful. They may have encouraged you to get outside, to play sports, not to wear some of the things you wanted to, and to "have a trade to fall back on". Looking back, they might just have been right. It's probably why you are a competent, strong adult today.
So let your kids eat the occasional bit of shit, because otherwise, you'll be eating their shit for the rest of your life.
Follow Clive on Twitter: @thugclive
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