More Than Money
Issue #24

What Are We Teaching Our Children?

Table of Contents

“5 Tips for Parents”

Positive Steps for Parents

With hundreds of billions of dollars spent each year on advertising, it's impossible to be immune from commercialism, but there are steps we can take to protect our families.

1. Turn off the tube

Establish limits on how much TV your family watches. Also, press the mute button during commercials or talk with your children during ads to help them understand the companies' marketing techniques.

2. Encourage frugality

When your child begs for the latest "thing," talk about why s/he wants the new object before you give in or say no. Learn to say no, however, and set limits when you need to.

3. Teach responsible consumption

Help your child understand that every product is made from materials extracted from the Earth, and that material things don't just disappear when the garbage gets picked up. Teach your children about what happens to all that stuff. When we consume lots of plastic, heavily packaged goods, and products that easily break, we are leaving a heavy burden for future generations to bear. Seek out sources of Earth-friendly products that are durable and made from biodegradable or recycled materials.

3. Guard your time

Create a dinner time ritual of getting reconnected and really paying attention to each other as a family, even if you can only make it happen once or twice a week. Spend more time in nature. It helps connect children and adults to the larger scheme of things and offsets the noise and rush of daily life. Encourage drawing, singing, building things, sewing, kids newspaper clubs, reading, gardening, or sports. Devote the 20 minutes before bedtime exclusively to your children.

5. Push for commercial free schools

Does your child's school have Channel One? If so, ask to watch a broadcast. Ask the PTA to hold a meeting about commercialism in the school. Work as a team with teachers and other parents to analyze how and when commercial messages are reaching children, whether in textbooks, the cafeteria, hallways, or through fundraising events. Help develop a plan to ban commercialism in the schools.

Obviously, these five steps won't cure all the problems associated with the commercial targeting of our kids. But it's important to acknowledge the significant power parents do have to promote a healthy understanding of money, spending, and the effect of commercialism with their children.

The Center for a New American Dream is sponsoring a national "Kids and Commercialism Campaign." For more information, contact CNAD, 6930 Carroll Ave. Suite 900 , Takoma Park , MD 20912 , or check out their website at  

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