• Dr. Bill Walker

Keep Materialism From Taking Over Your Family

The love of things is bad for you and your family.

Here are some recommendations to control it.

Both, God and science say that loving material things is bad for you.

Why would you want your family to be exposed to bad?

Materialism is a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values.

Materialism is also the belief that having money and possessions is the most important thing in life – more important than anything else!

In addition, materialism is considered "a value system that is preoccupied with possessions and the social image they project".

Do You See the Real Danger of Materialism?

Materialism makes relationships with people – including family – LESS IMPORTANT than lifeless ‘things’ like money, cars and jewelry. It is easy to tell ourselves, "Surely people don't really believe this!". But, we can all think of people, especially the rich and famous that adhere to this life philosophy.

Many parents I know struggle with their children’s materialistic attitudes. Trying to overcome an obsession for 'things' can seem like a losing battle. Everywhere you turn as a parent encourages you and your kids to embrace this lifestyle. The media is the worst. The constant message is: You cannot be happy without THIS particular product (cars, clothes, food, hobby).


Here Are 3 Reasons To Reject Materialism

*It Hurts Your Sense of Self and Your Relationships with Others

Research has found that the less materialistic a person is the healthier their relationships with others are, and the healthier their sense of self and sense of purpose is. [1]

*It Makes You Depressed, Anxious and Selfish

Other research has discovered that as people become more materialistic, the more depressed, anxious, and more selfish they become. [2]

*It Makes You Less Socially Responsible

In the same study just mentioned, materialism was associated with people becoming less socially responsible. Materialistic people felt it was a poor use of their time to invest in working for good causes. Doing so took away from their time to focus on possessions and the acquiring of more possessions. [2]

Wow! Aren't these reasons just outright ?! To raise a child like this would offer NOTHING of benefit to our world.



What are some positive steps we can all take to make ourselves and our children less materialistic?

1. Learn To Be Grateful For What You Have

Gratitude is an extremely POWERFUL antidote for being materialistic. I have previously discussed the power of gratitude HERE.

Make it a priority to teach your children the value of being grateful.

Some gratitude researchers have suggested families have a “daily gratitude reflection” around the dinner table. Before, while, or after you eat, go around the table and have each person name 1 thing they are grateful for. Make the rule that the “thing” cannot be a physical possession, like a video game. It has to be something, or someone that provides a helpful benefit to a person.

After naming the blessing you then must explain (in an age-appropriate manner) why/& or how what they chose is helpful.

Example: “I am grateful for our house because it gives us a warm place to sleep when it gets cold.”

Personal Note: My wife tried this when our kids were younger. I am ashamed to say I rolled my eyes and did not support her in this endeavor. I now very much regret my immaturity. I missed an opportunity to help make my children more grateful.

Wives, if your husband is not supportive try saying this to him: In a calm, respectful and genuine manner say: “It is very important to me that we do this. Because it is, I need you to support me on this.


Another suggestion is to keep a ‘gratitude jar’, where children and teens write down something they’re grateful for each week and place it in the jar. Then, pick one family meal a week and read the gratitude slips placed in the jar.

Once or twice a week bring the jar to the dinner table and read each slip. For example, you might make every Thursday night, ‘Gratitude Night’.

2. Set the Example of How You Want Your Children To Be

Do as I say, not as I do” does NOT work!! Never has, never will. Get your own act together regarding material things. Look for opportunities to point out to your kids the problems with being materialistic using your own life.

Live a non-materialistic lifestyle yourself. Find ways to be of service to others and involve your children. When you cannot involve them be sure to tell them how much you enjoyed helping others and how good it made you feel.

3. Live Simply

Blogger Scott Young writes, “Simplify all your material possessions so they don’t consume your mental resources. Simple, even if less glamorous, requires less maintenance, offers fewer distractions and uses less thinking. A simple lifestyle affords you the ability to focus your energies on your inner world.” [3]

I might change the expression “focus your energies on your inner world” to, “focus your energies on what’s really important in life; helping make the world a better place by helping others and doing good where you can”. Getting your attention off of your ‘stuff’ and onto people and causes outside your self is the key.


Christianly Speaking

God and Jesus, both, gave strong and repeated warnings as to the dangers of materialism. They taught that spiritual things are the opposite of material things, and focusing on material is the opposite of focusing on the spiritual.

Jesus made many statements on the evils of materialism:

“Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” (Luke 12:15, NLT)

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be." (Matthew 6:19-21, NLT)

"What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?" (Matthew 16:26, NLT)

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth." (Matthew 6:24, NAS)


The Bottom Line

The love of lifeless objects hinders our ability to serve and love people.

Materialism is a false god. It offers nothing that will last forever because it has no eternal nature.

Starting with ourselves, we need to see through the empty promises of materialism and focus our sights on doing good and loving others in this broken, materialistic world.

For the Family

dr. bill

[1] Changes in materialism, changes in psychological well-being: Evidence from three longitudinal studies and an intervention experiment []

[2] Consumerism and its antisocial effects can be turned on—or off