Perfect Baby Handbook curtails indulgent parenting (with a little help from devastating recession)
Monday, June 15th, 2009
The mood was cheerful here at PBH Headquarters today: The Perfect Baby Handbook received lovely complements from both Nicole Feliciano at Momtrends, who praised its “biting wit,” and high-profile father Greg Williams, author of the new dad-lit novel, The Accidental Father, and executive editor at Details magazine, who wrote:
Dale’s hilarious skewering of helicopter parents and child-rearing manuals is a well-observed commentary on modern child-rearing.
Just as I was priding myself on all my biting and skewering, and wondering if I could moonlight as a kitchen appliance, I noticed a piece on the San Diego Union Tribune’ site called “Parents Scale Back Luxuries for Children,” which suggests that brutal economic realities might have helped me turn the tide against spendthrift helicopter parenting—at least, a little:
“Everything has been dialed down quite a bit, even in the baby world,” said Kat Fay, a senior analyst for Mintel, a market research firm….Bugaboo, maker of the then-$800 stroller that defined the luxury baby bubble, has cut its prices, as has Pottery Barn Kids, purveyor of upscale decor, after its first-quarter same-store sales dropped by 25 percent….
The piece acknowledges, of course, that it’s not merely the recession that’s resetting the zeitgeist and introduces another expert, who cites an influential “magnum opus.” Since I know that this term refers to “a great work, a work of considerable achievement,” I read on with interest:
Robert Thompson, a professor of pop culture at Syracuse University, said there is a critical confluence happening that is not only changing buying habits but also parenting practices. Thompson said luxury is increasingly looked upon as a four-letter word….[He] points to MTV’s reality series “My Super Sweet 16” as the “magnum opus” in exposing the downside of indulging children. Watching teens whine and wail for ever-more-extravagant parties and gifts caused parents to rethink their priorities.
The magnum opus is a reality-TV series? WTF?! The mood at PBH headquarters is now officially less cheerful.
Update: Actually, Bugaboo has raised the price on the Cameleon and claims no affect on sales; continues to project sales growth for 2009 (via AdAge).
• New York Times writes same article, except with no attempt at factual support
• Stone-aged vehicle beloved by toddlers outsells real cars
• Unsurprisingly, helicopters hate helicopter parents