Want to raise non-materialistic children? Of course! What parent doesn’t want their children to be successful and kind? As a parent of six, I’ve struggled over the years to thoughtfully instruct my children in this area of their character.
Finally, over a decade into the parenting journey, and I think I’m ready to share what has worked for our family. Here are my two (four!) cents.
**Note: This article was originally published in 2014. Since then my children have grown older, and have been inundated with so much more materialism. Whew! This fighting against the prevailing culture can be hard as a parent, can’t it??! I still struggle with this area of parenting, and yet, I still find these four tips to be helpful and true. Continue the fight for your children, even though it can be tiring and tough. We’re all on this parenting journey together!
#1. Do Things Together
Our culture values quality time over quantity time. I’d like to challenge that way of thinking. In truth, a healthy family dynamic results from oodles of time simply existing and interacting with one another.
Sure, doing fun and exciting things together is great, but kids tend to remember the little moments spent together more fondly than the big, expensive projects. They value years of tickles, snuggles, and read-alouds over Disney Land. Seriously.
#2. Value People Over Stuff
Teach your kids that relationships are more important than things. Here’s a simple way to do this: when friends come to play, encourage your kids to share their toys. Teach them to delight in their siblings’ and friends’ enjoyment of their belongings.
This doesn’t mean that they don’t have the right to personal property (toys that are all their own), but it is simply a practical way to foster an attitude that people (their friends) are more important than the toys themselves.
#3. “Stuff” Often Gets in the Way of Happiness.
Teach your kids that there is a trade-off between time and stuff. The easiest way to do this is to point out that room cleaning would be accomplished more quickly if they weren’t constantly putting away and organizing toys that aren’t favorites.
When they learn that work must be completed to purchase and manage their belongings, they are quick to realize that carefully selecting their possessions is preferable to amassing piles of toys.
#4. Our Time On Earth is Short
Teach them to have their hope in more than earthly treasures. Matthew 6:20-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
We teach our children to value heavenly things because we know that earthly items are of infinitely less importance than those things that are valued by our creator. The greatest of these is to love him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39). We do this firstly by loving his son Jesus, whom he sent as our substitute on the cross (Galatians 2:20).
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There is no “parenting guarantee” to assure us that if we follow these steps our kids will turn out O.K.` If there were, we’d end up shepherding little Pharisees who obey every rule but whose hearts are turned to selfish pride.
Want to raise non-materialistic children? Rest assured that they are in the hands of a good God who loves them more than we are capable, and who can breathe life into their tender hearts.
What tips do you have to successfully raise non-materialistic children?