How do you raise minimalist kids in our culture of possessions?

Here are some simple but necessary insights on raising kids as minimalists (h/t kottke). Minimalism is so much like Zen Buddhism in that it’s all practice. There is no end. To be a minimalist means to be forever contemplating the value of new possessions and the possibility of downsizing. There aren’t any rules to set up and run your minimal life for you. Because of that, practicing minimalism is practicing mindfulness every day.

This is difficult enough to do as a solitary adult. I can’t imagine what it is like to do with children. As an adult, it’s easier not to be tempted by all the stuff that culture throws at you. Children don’t yet know how to recognize and dodge that bombardment of things. I appreciate the effort of those people raising minimalist children. I’ve only recently begun unpacking the unconscious consumerism passed along to me and my parents are in no way the typical pack-rat consumers of junk culture.

This a huge point the author makes:

Minimize media first. This includes movies and television. After all, it is advertising that manipulates us into thinking we need this and that. If possible, get rid of cable entirely. We opted to get Netflix and stream it to our TV via our Wii.. which was a gift. We get a lot of gifts now from family who think we are deprived, LOL. Anyway, the Wii is not played very much. Instead they use it to get on demand movies via Netflix. No commercials!!!! You can also choose to limit TV to DVDs or videos, preferably those that you check out from the library.

Since she’s speaking strictly of combating society’s consumption habit, the author doesn’t touch on what is the importance of minimizing media: it maximizes mindfulness by turning us from passive recipients of media into mindful choosers of the media we consume.

My childhood in the 80s was a march towards making the audience as passive as possible: more channels, more reruns, more ads. While the internet is probably even more overrun with such vacuous media, the Netflixification of movies and shows have allowed us to consume more media by choice. There is a stark contrast between how I choose to watch something on Netflix (even if I’m mindlessly binge-ing through episodes of a show) and how my parents still sit in front of a television set and mindlessly click through the channels hoping to find something entertaining.

Maybe I should work on some pointers for raising minimalist parents…