Discussions on Materialism

I had an interesting conversation about materialism the other day with our children.

Our son's lego Mario creations
We have about 500 of these things around our house
One of my daughters was accusing my son of being materialistic because he was upset that a lego creation he had made broke. I explained that caring for the things you own does not make you materialistic, but not being content with the things you have and always wanting more made you materialistic. This statement caused a few more questions, naturally. This happens with kids, a lot.

With all three of my children's birthdays coming up, they wondered if wanting a gift was materialistic. Yikes! What a land mine of a question. In theory, wouldn't wanting or expecting a gift be materialistic? Our kids are accustomed to receiving a birthday present and I'm sure they expect one. I know they look forward to these gifts and are excited, but in no way do I believe our children are greedy gift crazed Gollums.

Materialism is a bad thing, on this we can agree.

I assured them they weren't materialistic. I love that they are concerned about it. They may expect a gift, but isn't that more our fault as parents. They are always appreciative and always say thank you or send their own notes. I can't tell you how many times I have been at a birthday party where the birthday brat boy/girl has mumbled under their breath a snotty comment about a gift or lack thereof. The sad part is when parents say nothing.

My children enjoy giving presents too. They all made each other handmade gifts for their birthdays this year, with no prompting from me. I have a bunch of little future Etsy sellers on my hands.

While I agree that birthdays and holidays can have a tendency to err on the side of extravagance, I like to think we make a effort not to over indulge. The reality is Madonna was right. We are living in a material world. It's too easy to go overboard with birthday presents and not even second guess it. These extreme birthdays lead to self-entitled children/teens/adults. People who have the 'I deserve it, because I'm me' mentality. I don't want that for my kids, not only because I feel I would have failed as a parent, but because a life of materialism is not a life fully enjoyed.

“Not that I condone fascism or any ‘ism’ for that matter.  ‘Ism's’ in my opinion are not good.  A person should not believe in an ‘ism’, he should believe in himself.”
-Ferris Bueller, Life Appreciator Extraordinaire 

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