Leadership In Parenting

Children and Excessive Love for Material Possessions

Children are born to love. Watch a baby clinging to his mother. Watch him gazing at her every line and wrinkle as she cradles him close. He grips her thumb, adores her, she’s his source of security, comfort. He dotes on her presence, her smell, her touch. Her voice is music to his ears, he knows she loves him.

Through your words, gestures and actions, you show your children what to love, who to cherish, what to treasure. Do you react with revulsion or warmth when the name of a person pops up? Do you smile or furrow your brow when a certain place or event is mentioned? As your child grows, your love continues to guide his words and actions. The best leaders inspire us with their moderate lifestyle and lack of love for material possessions, an attitude instilled from young. Everyday think: What kind of message are you sending to your children, through your lifestyle, the gifts you bought for them? What kind of leader are you nurturing?

Love may be the strongest emotion you use to lead a child.

I don’t know everything about love, but one thing I know for certain, I never want my children’s love to be tied to their material possessions. I do want my children to value and appreciate stuff I bought them, but not to the point where their love flips into an irrational attachment.

Let me illustrate. As they say, certain events stick in your mind as if they were meant to be glued there forever, never mind if it occurred years ago.

It was at the school’s parking lot. I was walking a child of mine towards the main entrance when I saw Lisa, a friend of mine, squeezing herself out of her car. As she did so, the door of her car grazed the side of the car next to hers.

Lisa had hardly stepped out when the lady driver came striding out with her back ramrod straight, one hand firmly on a hip. “You scratched my car,” the woman said, her icy voice ringing out loud and clear for everyone to hear. Several feet away, other parents and I froze. I still remember what Lisa said later, as I sat her down: “I feel sorry for her.”

I feel sorry for her. Indeed.

A person with such a powerful attachment to material possessions will inevitably suffer. Make your happiness dependent on things, and you suffer because things are not meant to last forever. That leather sofa you wildly admire at the furniture showroom, now sitting in your living room – the only way for it to sparkle for years is for someone to polish it several times a month. That slick car you’re infatuated with – can you imagine your bubbly drooling niece sitting in it? Yeah, I know, cars are costly. For many of us, how much we spend to own a car is only second to the amount of money we use up to buy a house.

Most parents want to raise their children right. Part of raising children right means teaching them how to be happy for the right reasons. Your children observe what makes you happy and what makes you unhappy. They pick your cues, build their “happiness scales and standards” based on your reactions and responses to everyday things. The more attachment you show for your material possessions, the greater importance your child sets on them.

Your children might grow up thinking material possessions are the real sources of happiness, deserving their greatest love and attention, no matter what. Doesn’t matter if possessions can’t love them back, can’t soothe their pain, can’t lend a hand when they fall, can’t listen to their fears, can’t hug them when they’re down, can’t smile when the world is ignoring them, can’t wipe away the tears or talk them out of depression. By the time they grow up, they just feel an inexplicable anger if and when something happens to their beloved possessions like the angry lady above. By then, their brains have been wired that way.

But why such passion for inanimate stuff?

A study has shown that people with super strong attachment to things like cars, computers and such, suffer from loneliness. Another study shows, the more you feel loved and accepted by others, the less you value material possessions.

Possessions might reflect how much you earn, indicate your social status. A fancy car might show you have “arrived”, secured your dream job in a coveted office, tell people you earn more than them. But out there, there will always be someone earning much more than you. How much higher do you want to go?

If you teach your child to build her love and happiness around possessions, know that it is an unquenchable thirst, an insatiable hunger. She is bound to fail, misery will be her lot. No matter how much she has, that glittering diamond sitting pretty on a finger, the grand cottage she calls home – the satisfaction and novelty of it all will vanish. Soon enough, she will be clamouring for more possessions, chasing for the next pot of gold, a mirage in the distance. She sees it from afar, burning with brilliance. “Come and get me!” it beckons. “I will fill the void in you.” But once she gets there, the emptiness in her heart starts to ache yet again.

Thought of The Moment

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” ~ Anonymous

Read the article in Malay: Didik Anak Jangan Taksub Dengan Harta Benda



About Jamilah Samian

Jamilah has written 490 articles.

Jamilah Samian is an author and speaker.

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