The Character Movement

Less is the New More

A parent recently told me a story about growing up in a big family in South Dakota in the 1970s. She was one of six kids and while she never lived in poverty, she also wasn’t rolling in toys and new clothes. Today she struggles with the abundance of stuff with raising her daughter.

For example, her daughter has an iPod, an extravagance that she would never have had growing up. One of the rules is that her daughter is supposed to keep the iPod in its case and store it safely, but she has a more cavalier attitude about the device and this ends up causing conflict. The mother acknowledges that the stuff you own isn’t important, but she also feels her daughter doesn’t appreciate all their family has. The mother wants there to be more of a sense of gratitude and appreciation.

The mom can see with great clarity the difference between the lessons she learned about the importance of stuff and the lessons her daughter isn’t learning. Her challenge as a parent is how to instill a balanced understanding of abundance.

One way to teach good lessons about money and material things is to work at the family level. Our family has a stuff purge at our house a couple times a year. This give-away purge is not only about getting rid of unwanted or unused items, but wanted items as well. It encourages everyone to really step back and think about our consumption and our attachment to things. This exercise also allows Jane and me to talk with our daughter about what we have versus what other people have or don’t have, and hopefully helps create some perspective about how fortunate one really is.

For other great tips on having conversations about money, material things, values, allowances, etc. with your kids, visit Nathan Dungan’s website, Share Save Spend.

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