8 Steps to a Happier Family Life
Having a Lot of Stuff Isn't Great for Your Kids—or Your Marriage
It's hard not to overdo it at birthdays or, ahem, the mall. But trying to keep up with the Joneses, or even your kids' pleading, may be more damaging than you realize. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy found that couples who valued money and possessions highly had about 10 percent less stable marriages (that is, poorer conflict resolution and communication skills) than those who did not. As for kids, "when children have fewer toys, those toys' roles become flexible and the kids' imaginations kick in," says Kim John Payne, the author of Simplicity Parenting ($10, amazon.com). (He recommends 20 to 40 playthings per kid, max.)
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So maybe you can’t change your health overnight. But you can get a head start.