Child’s Generosity

Dear Naomi, My 5 year old daughter has recently taken to baking “bread”, usually an interesting mix of flour, vinegar, salt, spices, etc. and wanting to give it to our neighbors. The bread is not edible. I do not know how to deal with this as I don’t want to thwart her generosity or her creativity, yet it feels wrong to secretly inform the recipients of her gift that it needs to be thrown out, not to mention the waste of expensive ingredients. I have tried suggesting we make our regular bread together and give that, but to no avail. Do you have some ideas? With thanks!

Dear Parent,

I am happy to see that you don’t aspire to create a phony set-up for your daughter.

Indeed, there is nothing that you need to do. It is between your daughter and the neighbor and neither one of them need your protection or mediation for such a safe encounter. She can give the bread to the neighbor and they can respond however they will.  

We often try to protect other adults from contact with children. This is not helpful. We don’t have to manage the lives of others. They are adults. They know about children and their creations. Most of the time adults are kind and appreciative of children’s gifts and don’t expect them to be adults’ gifts. 

If you are worried that the neighbors will be rude to your daughter, (unlikely) or just say that it is bad tasting or throw it away where she can see it, your daughter will learn a valuable lesson in human relations. Your job is not to shield her from relating, but to empower her. If they don’t like her gift, don’t teach her to feel bad about it, but to move on with her new experience enriching her social skills. You can say in a benign tone, “So, they didn’t like the recipe. Would you like to try different ingredients next time?” And you can suggest, “Maybe you can make one small one for yourself so you can taste it and be sure that it is yami before giving it to your friends.” Of course, if she is upset, validate before you empower, but don’t add drama, nor suggest that it is a problem. 

Another possibility is to be strait with your daughter right away: “Sweetheart, I wonder how it tastes. Would you like to make sure it tastes good before giving it to the neighbor?” And if she doesn’t want to try it, either let it be, or say, “Your know, they may not like it because it has unusual ingredients.” If she still wants to give it, that’s fine; you gave her the information and it is up to her. It is not your business to manage how the rest of it proceeds, only to respond kindly if the need arises.

Warmly,  Naomi Alodrt


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