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Contemporary Parenting Questions


Last updated on 11/04/08

Is my child too materialistic?

The primary message of commercial culture promotes the false message that the things we buy will make us happy. Research has proven that our sense of wellbeing depends on relationships, a sense of community, spiritual nourishment, and/or job satisfaction, not on acquiring “things.” Children who are more materialistic are less happy, more depressed, more anxious and have lower self-esteem. This generation of children is the most brand-conscious ever. Teenagers today have 145 conversations about brands per week, and 44% of fourth through eighth graders report daydreaming “a lot” about being rich. Every day, children are bombarded with advertisements promising lifelong happiness if they buy a certain product or go certain places. Parents should limit their children’s exposure to advertising and teach their children the value of money. It is also important for parents to model a non-materialistic lifestyle; a child will not understand why they cannot have a certain fad if the parent regularly buys unnecessary brand-name products.

In the Jewish Community

Materialism is a problem that hit the Jewish Community full force. A casual stroll down Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn, New York, shows the intensity of materialism in the Jewish Community. Jewish owned clothing stores for babies and adults alike sell mostly brand-name products priced by the animal emblem as opposed to the quality of the merchandise. Their clientele, both wealthy and average, sport Burberry scarves, custom wigs, and leather handbags whose price could feed a needy family for a month. Children tend to model their parents; in this case, the results are already out in the open. The Jewish Community must work together to curb materialism before the problem becomes worse. Parents should educate their children to find pleasure with simplicity as well as model appropriate behavior for kids to copy. Materialism is a weed that spreads rapidly unless it is completely uprooted.

Use the following links to educate yourself about materialism in children. Learn about the dangers of materialism, what it is caused by, and how to remedy the problem.

Frequently Asked Links

What causes kids to be materialistic?

How does materialism develop in young children?

What are some of the dangers of advertisements?

Which kids are less likely to be materialistic?

Does materialism harm kids?

What are some of the negative effects of materialism?

How can I discourage materialism in my child? more

How can I move my child’s focus away from materialism?

How can I teach my child to avoid materialism?

Why is it important for parents to say “no” to children?

Why do some parents have a hard time saying “no” to their children?

How can I learn to say “no” to my children?

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Parenting Resources for the Jewish Community

Compiled by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)
AACAP offers up-to-date information on child and adolescent development and issues.

Center for a New American Dream
This site has a section with ideas on simplifying the holidays and countering the commercialization of our culture.

Alliance for Childhood

A partnership of individuals and organizations committed to fostering and respecting each child's inherent right to a healthy, developmentally appropriate childhood.

Lesson One

A proven plan for adults to help children develop the life skills and internal discipline necessary to learn and thrive in today’s society.

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