A friend of mine shared a “funny” video the other day. If you want to watch it without having it spoiled, hurry and click on the link. If you don’t have a desire to watch it, read on.
The video opens with a young father and his son (probably 6 or 7?) at a grocery store. The young son takes some cereal off the shelf and puts it in the cart. The father picks it up and deliberately puts it back, and thus ensues a little “take it out, put it back” war between father and son. Suddenly, after the father puts it back again, the young boy starts throwing a tantrum, screaming, throwing things off the shelves, lying on the floor screaming and hitting the floor, all while the bystanders watch in displeasure and seem to give the young father one of “those” looks (if you’ve ever been in the grocery store with a screaming child, you know what I’m talking about). You notice (or maybe you don’t, but I did) that there are only adults (and most of them older – think 40s+) and none of them have children (of any age) with them. The commercial ends with a close up of the young father’s face and a message at the bottom: “Wear condoms.”
Now, while the irony of the video might be somewhat funny, I found the message to be in poor taste, and exactly what Elder Neil A. Andersen was illustrating in his talk from General Conference about children and how the world views them as a lower priority than anything. The message I observed in the video was this, “Children are hard work, so make sure you don’t have any.”
The video is in another language with subtitles (I think French?) and I thought that a commercial like this would probably not fly in the United States. Fortunately we have enough mothers who aggressively defend motherhood (like Rachel Jankovic) in the United States that I think there would be some really negative backlash to a commercial like this being aired in the United States. But in Europe, where families values have eroded so much that some countries are trying to get more men to be teachers so that children will have positive male role models (what happened to fathers?!) I thought this commercial was probably very well received.
I thought the message in the commercial might have been more “don’t have kids if you’re not ready to have kids” if there had been other, well-behaved children in the commercial. But in the commercial you will notice a blatant lack of children. So that leads me to believe that the marketers weren’t just targeting people who might not be emotionally, mentally, physically, or financially prepared to have children. Since the only child in the entire commercial was acting like a monster (while the father simply stands by and “lets” him throw the fit – a conversation for another day) – which even well-behaved children will do sometimes – there was no other conclusion to draw other than that the marketers view all children as trials and burdens which we should protect ourselves from by wearing condoms (or using another form of birth control – don’t worry, I am not knocking birth control here – there is a time and place for that, too).
I know this sounds a little harsh, and maybe I am off – maybe the marketers really were saying “If you’re not ready to have kids, wait until you are.” What did you think?
PS – I included a few pictures of my two year old during some of her tantrums. (which happen quite frequently… because she is two) so you would know that I don’t think my children are always perfect. I wanted to be fair and include pictures of my four year old, but either he doesn’t throw tantrums as often as she does, or he just makes sure he isn’t throwing tantrums while we are taking pictures. Either way – parenting is hard, children are hard – mine throw tantrums all the time. But it is by far the most important thing we can ever do.
What message did you see in the commercial? Do you think the commercial illustrates, at least somewhat, the lower priority most people in the world give to having and raising successful children? Or do you think it is simply a harmless message?