Exploiting Kids When Finances Are Tight

When times get tough, some folks dig in and just get more creative and try harder.  For some parents, when the economy got tough, they got their children to try harder, and I’m not happy about this at all.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the children’s segment of the modeling industry has seen a 50% increase in applicants in the past three years, as parents try to have the kids’ “looks” subsidize the family income.  Also contributing to the growing number of mini-models are the reality TV shows featuring children (Toddlers and Tiaras and Little Miss Perfect come to mind).

I think this is a despicable development.  Parents there to exploit their children for their own income and ego?  The family income should not be put on the back (or should I say “face”) of children whose ages are still in single digits!
The impact on children is horrendous on many levels:

1. They have to deal with rejection at a very early age.  Children take these situations quite personally, and don’t understand the frivolity of choices based upon product, the taste of producers and so on. 
2. Kids think they are the most important part of the family – exaggerated value makes for a narcissism that will likely haunt that child throughout life, especially when it disappears as they get older and less cute or desired by Hollywood.
3. The child who is the performer becomes the “golden child,” and other children in the family are terribly hurt as their value to the parents (i.e., love) seems to disappear.
4. Kids learn that money and looks are the focal point of life.
5. Small children don’t understand the ramifications of the four items above and can’t really make the choice for themselves as to whether or not to participate (and such participation would change their lives and might not be in their best interests).

Exploiting children for ANY reason is wrong.  And that’s that.