Materialism and Children

A craze for a gift is alive till the moment it is unwrapped

A mom of two

If you believe that our children are still uncorrupted by the bug called materialism, invite yourself over to a birthday party of any upper-middle-class 8-year old.

More, bigger and better are the new keywords. Décor and gifts fit for a king, princely dresses, an array of scrumptious starters and main courses, and return gifts which are demanded as a right!

Even with these excesses, are we happy?

What’s cooking here?

I see, I want: More a child gets exposed to luxuries of life, the higher will be his itch to get more. For soon, it changes from a privilege to a right.

Just because I can afford it: Working mothers often have the money but no time to spend on their children! To counter the guilt, they often shower majestic gifts on their children to reassure themselves that they are still the best parents.

He has it. Why can’t I have it?: Since the snake entered the Garden of Eden, the art of selling has been the way to go. With the internet, the world has become smaller. Personalised choices have never been more so set in stone.

If you have it flaunt it! And the world around you will break into a sweat trying to outdo you.

So, if a 5-year-old insists for a toy out of competition or a 17-year-old throws a tantrum to have a party on a school night, what should a parent do ?

Adopt a minimalistic lifestyle: Let them see you counting the pennies  When you and your spouse go back and forth discussing whether you can really afford that new LCD, children understand that money is a resource and is meant to used intentionally.

Discuss the needs vs. the wants: There will always be a smarter phone, a prettier watch and a more popular brand around the corner. You can’t dump your children in a cave but you educate them on the difference between the necessities and the luxuries.

“Do you need this? vs. “Do you want this?”

Love and attention beats material possessions: Try to meet their emotional needs- Having dinner together, watching a movie every Friday evening etc. These tiny rituals will give your child the reassurance that he /she is loved. Listen to them attentively, love unconditionally, appropriate touches, respect & trust them! The dominant need to own will die down a natural death.

Open the window: Take your children along for your annual donation to an orphanage/ old age home. Watch their eyes go wide when they get a first-hand account of the realities of life. One tip- do not start off with a class on moral values on the way home- might water down the effect!

Guidance: Let them handle money appropriate to their age. Allowance tracking, the idea of giving, and the connection between money and values is a powerful tool against materialism.

Give them a regular allowance, and divide the money into three categories: spending, saving and giving.

Have a family discussion about finances: your kids need to understand concepts like income, expenses and savings and what it means for them as well.

Have regular healthy discussions around money: Opening up a lemonade stands a discussion around how many entrepreneurs begin their journey!

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