Minimalism and teenagers

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The most common question people have lately asked me is how to manage to live a minimalistic life with a family and especially with teenage children, something generally seen if not totally impossible at least a big challenge. I understand where the assumption comes from but in my experience it’s not true at all and there’s a natural explanation for it.

When people of my generation (today’s parents) were young things were not as easily available as they are for today’s teenagers. We developed a mysterious glory around stuff and dreamed how it will magically change our lives if we can just get more of it. Times are different now. If my kids really need something it’s quite easily available for them. They don’t have illusions of how having more would make their life so much different.

Another, maybe even better explanation (and this is something I started to think more carefully after taking part of an interesting discussion about minimalism this week) is the digital aspect of the modern life. Having a mobile in the pocket means practically having an access to anything we can possibly want to. There’s no need to have so much stuff because everything is just a click away.

Something to read? Click your mobile. Something to listen to? Click your mobile? Something to watch? Click your mobile. Need a souvenir? Click your mobile and take a pic. Paradoxically in our family it’s us parents highlighting the value of physical books to the kids. I’ve grown up thinking books are not just objects but also symbols of stories, thoughts and knowledge.

I have three sons and they all seem quite happy with their compact wardrobes as long as they can choose their own clothes and of course they can. If they sometimes want to buy a certain label I’m fine with that if the price is still reasonable and the item seems like a good purchase and not poor quality. I’m generally surprised how sensible my teenagers are with their buying compared to many adults.

The best advice for combining minimalism and family life is to show example. Having everything easily organized at home is a great advantage and each member of my family noticed that quickly and none of them complained. Also, always respect everyone’s personal space and opinions and remember having less is supposed to make your life happy and easy, not to cause you more troubles.

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