04 Oct Materialism Matters
By Dianne Wood
Dianne is happily married and the mother of 8 children. She is currently home full time. She writes for a few magazines, is working on a book and runs a girls club. Dianne holds a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science. She has kindly given permission to reprint this article.
We need to keep our children short of money. Marketers are selling a grown-up, sexy image to pre-teen girls. Parents need to guide, direct and help their children.
Our children have so much money that everyone wants to get it. We need to teach our children about the value of possessions by letting them pay for them themselves. With paper routes, snow shoveling, babysitting, grass cutting, and grandmothers, there is hardly a reason to give our children an allowance these days. Many are wasting it so why give them more.
Start right when they cry “I want that!” at a store by saying “That costs five dollars. Do you have enough money to pay for it?” Institute spending rules when they are young so they know from the start that, for example that one third of their money should go into savings, one third is theirs to spend as they choose and one third goes to charity.
Do not give in to every request. Children who get everything they ask for do not learn to handle disappointment, and they don’t learn to work or even just wait for things they desire. Do yourself and your child a favor by saying no to unending requests, even if that provokes tantrums in the toy store. Enlist the aid of friends and grandparents who often delight in “spoiling” your child by suggesting they buy only one gift at birthdays or holidays, instead of half a dozen.
Children should also understand that expenditures such as groceries, rent or mortgage payments are necessities, while others such as game system cassettes are optional. When they whine that they need some new toy you can respond sympathetically, “I understand that you want it,” but then explain why he doesn’t truly need it Teach them that there are logical reasons behind purchasing decisions and help them to delay gratification. Show them how to give to others. Take him with you to bring dinner to a sick neighbour or to volunteer in a soup kitchen or visit a nursing home. That kind of activity can foster an attitude that will help counter materialism more powerfully than almost anything else. Spend time rather than money on your kids. It’s not easy in our hectic lives to give children the time and attention they crave. If their parents are too busy for family life, then the kids will retreat to their toys, TV and game systems. Things are no substitute for spending time with family. Make an effort spending time together doing things that do not cost anything. Go to the park to play soccer or baseball, visit the library, take nature walks and bike rides, play a game of charades or a board game. No matter what your child says, he wants and needs a secure sense of family more than a roomful of possessions.