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Manipulation of Children

I usually don’t write about such topics, but I feel compelled to speak my mind and perhaps open up some minds on a subject that has increasingly upset me.

On Facebook this week, there is a viral video showing low-income children talking with an interviewer about what they would like for Christmas. “An X-box!” “Legos!” “Minecraft!” The children got excited, as children do, when thinking about Christmas gifts. Then the interviewer asked the same children what their parents or guardians would like for Christmas. “A ring. My mother has always wanted a ring.” “Shoes!” They seemed equally excited at the thought of their parents or guardians receiving gifts. Then the interviewer told the children that they had to choose. They could either have the gifts they wanted or the gifts for their parents or guardians. Of course, the video showed the children who chose selflessly the gifts for their parents or guardians. I wondered while watching how many of these children chose their own gifts instead, but that’s impossible to know and thus, speculation is futile. Watching the children’s’ faces as they thought they were not getting their gifts was interesting. Some looked sad, some stunned, some seemed emotionless. It could be said that these children had no or low expectations of the situation given their history, but again, speculation.

The interviewer then told the children that since they were so kind, they were getting both gifts – the ones for themselves AND the ones for the parents or guardians. The children explained that their parents and guardians care for them so much that they deserve to get gifts. Family over gifts, relationships over gifts, etc.

So, what’s wrong with this? Isn’t this an innocent, feel-good video showing the true selfless nature of some children? Or, as I believe, a set-up designed to trick innocent children? These kids obviously don’t have a lot. Some may be in foster care (I really don’t know) or some may have led tumultuous lives due to parental addiction. Again, more speculation, but poverty is insidious and often affects families for generations. I feel that putting these young people through emotional turmoil is abusive and manipulative all for a video that will be circulated around social media to make us feel good about ourselves.

In recent years, there has been a glut of videos showing parents telling their children that they ate all of their Halloween candy. Of course, the children become very sad and some cry and some scream. Then after a bit, the candy is then brought out and all is seemingly well. If there was a surefire way to make your children not trust you, this is it. Relationships are built on respect and trust. I’m not saying an occasional teasing is always permanently harmful, but I do know that children remember these actions. I was the victim of “good natured teasing” by a parent who didn’t know better. It’s taken me many, many years to forgive this person and put the past emotional abuse behind me.

Children are not props in an adult’s world. They are future adults who we expect to be good, kind, productive members of society. Their thoughts and feelings are real.
They trust and look up to us, as adults, to show them how to behave in this world. The world is a scary place for a young person, especially now. Please remember that our most vulnerable little citizens are going to be the ones who grow up to be our next leaders, thinkers, and doers.


My blog title pretty much tells all. I blog about pop culture, my life, and society.

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