London: A child’s list of what they want for Christmas might seem an unlikely place to discover a snapshot of modern Britain.
But a survey has shown that, amid the usual requests for gadgets and pets, the tenth most longed-for item is a father.
A wish for a mother came in at number 23 on the list.
The answers highlight the breakdown of family life — recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of children living in single-parent families has risen from 2.9million to 3.1million in the past ten years.
On a possibly brighter note, the survey of 2,000 parents found most children aged three to 12 put a new baby brother or sister at the top of their Christmas list.
This was followed by the less likely request for the arrival of a real-life reindeer. The traditional favourite of a horse came third, with a car at number four and a dog at five.
The survey of consumers at the Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City shopping centres in London also found that some youngsters wanted a house.
Some imaginative children were hoping for a donkey, a chicken or an elephant, while others asked for the moon, a time machine, a pond cover — and beetroot. More personal requests included one child asking for Desperate Housewives actress Eva Longoria and another wanted Harry Styles from pop group One Direction.
Before the survey took place, the Mothers’ Union argued that Christmas lists themselves should be dropped to avoid commercialising the holiday.
The families’ charity said parents feel pressured into making their children’s present pile as big as possible.
Some 84 per cent of parents have bought their children extra gifts at the last minute because they didn’t think the pile looked big enough, according to research by the charity. It also showed that 72 per cent of parents bought their children a gift that was on their Christmas list which they could not afford, forcing them to take out a loan or get into financial difficulty.
Another survey found that on Christmas Day we were due to have a total of five family arguments, with the first starting as early as 10.13am as the preparations got under way.
The second family row was due to occur at 12.24pm after the children realised that Santa hadn’t brought them everything on their list.
The research by Travelodge also suggested that parents were most likely to argue between 1pm and 3pm, with 45 per cent rowing over the cooking of the turkey.