Minimalist Parenting


Minimalist living is the idea of getting rid of things we don’t use or need to live a simple and uncluttered life. It’s about giving up the material possessions and lifestyle activities that bring us more stress than happiness. 🙂 There isn’t a conclusive definition of what a minimalist lifestyle should be, but many self-proclaimed minimalists describe it as the pursuit of living a simple lifestyle by making choices important to the individual “rather than adopting the consumerist mindset that most people have.” Since there’s no clear definition of what minimalism is, the term is as subjective as the idea of frugality. 😕

I’m not a minimalist myself. But I wonder how parents who practice minimalism raise their children without depriving them of a proper childhood.

Simplicity may be the ultimate sophistication, but is that true for kids? Many studies show children under the age of 12 learn the fastest. Important skills such as pattern recognition and reasoning start to develop during this crucial time of brain development. Minimalists value experiences over material possessions. But what if toys, television, birthday parties, skateboards, presents and other types of stimulation are all important things that children need to experience for healthy mental development?

The public education system does a pretty good job of exposing children to many material possessions to teach them how to think, behave, and learn. Here are some pictures depicting what my life was like in primary school. 🙂 Can you relate to any of these things below?


Schools are fun because kids can share their experiences with others. But social skills are also learned at home. Putting up holiday decorations, dressing up as your favorite superhero on Halloween, telling people what you want for your birthday, are things that some minimalists don’t practice themselves. So will their standards change when it comes to their children?

Kids want nothing more than to fit in. If they see their friends with a new toy, they would naturally want one as well. I’m not sure if children can fully appreciate the idea that having less stuff than other people is somehow a good thing. Kids just want to be “normal.” They don’t see themselves as frugal or savvy if their school supplies come from the dollar store. They want to get their clothes for the new school year at Target just like all their friends. Being unique or different usually sucks if you’re a 13 year old girl.

There isn’t anything wrong with owning a large home, or having piles of unread books. And there’s nothing wrong with minimalism either. But what do minimalist households with children do? Do they still buy toys, books, games, sports equipment, and other material possessions typically found in nuclear families? Or do they keep toys in the house to a minimum, and urge the kids to spend more time with people rather than with computers and video games?

Minimalist living allows us to make financial decisions more consciously, and more deliberately, which is a good thing. So how can we impose these values on children without them growing up to resent that their parents never gave them a normal childhood?

Random Useless Fact:

Every teacher is biased and thinks his or her subject is the most important.




Author: Liquid Independence

Editor in Chief at Freedom 35 Blog.

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11/12/2015 8:58 am

I would argue a lot of what kids materialistic “needs” are driven from TV commercials. Minimalist parenting can work, but only to a certain extend.

Sherry @ Save. Spend. Splurge.
11/12/2015 1:57 pm

We’re minimalists and it works to a certain extent. Right now Baby Bun is a baby.. so he has no idea what is right or wrong to fit in or not. So to answer: ” Do they still buy toys, books, games, sports equipment, and other material possessions typically found in nuclear families? Or do they keep toys in the house to a minimum, and urge the kids to spend more time with people rather than with computers and video games?” No. We don’t buy any toys at the moment. He prefers THE BOX that the toy comes in (literally.. I have photos of this), and he is excited with just a makeup sponge and that you spend time playing with him. Toys don’t substitute for human interaction at this age. When he gets older, he will have a bike, sports equipment etc. We do not plan on not buying him any of that stuff.. but we are not going to buy him a toy driveable car for instance. He’ll just make friends who have one LOL… half kidding. We do plan on going biking with him, having him play a sport, play an instrument if he is interested etc..… Read more »

11/12/2015 4:41 pm

Should ask poor people their opinion of Minimalism, you know, when it’s not a choice.
11/13/2015 7:58 am

I’m not a minimalist but I try to control my spending to stuff that is important and ky kids are on top of that list.

I try to teach them to be smart with their use of ressources. My 8yo get a 5$/week to buy his toys and games. He has the possibility to earn more if does well at school (85%+ on a core subject on his report card is 5$, 95%+ is 10$).

When he want something big, he has to save for it. We he spend his allowance on virtual junk for the iPAD or trashpack, the 300$ telescope he really wants get further and further aways. I’m hopping this will teach him the value of hard work and saving.

11/15/2015 7:44 pm

Be careful with extrinsic motivation with an older child such as money for report cards. Research and common sense both show that as soon as the reward is removed, the motivation is too. People get hooked on the reward and don’t end up really caring about learning stuff, acquiring skills, and overall self-improvement (intrinsic motivation). Overt conversations about these values may be more effective at building the desired virtues.