Goodies vs baddies

Our six-year-old son has been talking a lot about baddies recently, so Ben decided to probe him on it.

Ben: What’s the difference between a baddy and a goody?

Daniel: Baddies are always fighting goodies.

Ben: But if you see two people fighting, how do you know who is the baddy and who is the goody?

Daniel: The baddy wears baddy clothes.

Ben: But don’t you think that if you were a baddy, you’d wear something different, instead of baddy clothes, so that people didn’t know you were a baddy?

Daniel: (nods in agreement)

Ben: So how to you tell baddies from goodies?

Daniel: Baddies are holding their weapons but goodies are carrying their weapons in their bags.

Ben: But don’t you think if you were a baddy, you’d try to make people think  you were a goody by also carrying your weapon in your bag?

Daniel: (thinking about this)

Ben: Do you think baddies sometimes do good things and goodies sometimes do bad things?

Daniel: (still thinking)

This had me if fits of laughter but it also got me thinking about a subject I hold dear: ethics. It can be hard for adults to determine whether something or someone is good or bad. Imagine how confusing it must be for a child. Imagine if real baddies did wear baddy clothes? Everyone would know who they are which I’m sure would seriously cramp their style. Would they still be bad? 

But giving our children an understanding of ethics is perhaps the most important task we, as parents, have. As young members of our society, children must learn to share, to consider each other’s needs and desires and to treat other people with kindess and equity and their first understanding of this comes from within their homes.

Peter Singer writes in The Guardian, that we need elephant mothers, not tiger mothers:

“We should aim for our children to be good people, and to live ethical lives that manifest concern for others as well as for themselves. This approach to childrearing is not unrelated to happiness: there is abundant evidence that those who are generous and kind are more content with their lives than those who are not. But it is also an important goal in its own right.

Tigers lead solitary lives, except for mothers with their cubs. We, by contrast, are social animals. So are elephants, and elephant mothers do not focus only on the wellbeing of their own offspring. Together, they protect and take care of all the young in their herd, running a kind of daycare centre.

If we all think only of our own interests, we are headed for collective disaster – just look at what we are doing to our planet’s climate. When it comes to raising our children, we need fewer tigers and more elephants.”

4 thoughts on “Goodies vs baddies

  1. What a thoroughly entertaining and thought-provoking post. I loved the Ben/Daniel conversation. Your kids are so lucky to have you both as parents!! Thanks for the wonderful Peter Singer quote.

  2. That reminds me of a conversation I had with a little girl a while ago. I must have been about 13. She was four years old. It was at a party and I entertained her so her parents could do their thing, and at a time we sat under the staircase and I showed her a couple of pictures I had on my cellphone. One of them was of a young man from a movie, and he was holding a sword. The little girl asked me why I had a picture of a bad guy on my phone.
    I said, “why do you think he’s a bad guy?” “Because he’s got a sword,” she said. I had to explain to her that it’s not always that easy to tell the difference between good and bad guys, and that sometimes good guys need swords too!
    Just made me think of that 🙂

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