How to Talk (and Not Talk) to Your Kids

Q: Mommy, why is it wrong to be selfish and right to always share?

Wrong answer: Because it’s not nice. You should care for other people and be sensitive to their needs.

Right answer: It’s best to ignore the word ‘selfish’ when you hear it. There’s nothing wrong with taking care of yourself.

You should be good to yourself. At the same time, you have to respect that everybody else has the same right. You can’t take your friend’s toy to please yourself, because this violates his right to keep what’s his.

Sharing is nice, but it’s voluntary and you should only share with other children who have shown they are trustworthy.

Q: Daddy, why do terrorists kill people?

Wrong answer: Because they’re insensitive and uncaring towards others. However, we are just as insensitive in our own way and this is one thing that makes them angry. We should become nicer neighbors and then they won’t bother us so much.

Right answer: Because they believe in different things than we do. They believe in a life after death—a life which, to them, is much more important than life on this earth. While not everyone who believes in life after death becomes violent, terrorists become violent because they resent us for making life on this earth so comfortable. They also feel deep resentment and jealousy towards us. Conditions in this country are better than conditions in their own country because we make prosperity a priority and we won’t allow dictators to run our lives. Terrorism is a way to show their resentment for our success. Instead of trying to make their own situation better, they would rather tear us down.

Q: Mommy, why is it wrong to rape the environment?

Wrong answer: Well, we should try to protect the environment around us for future generations. It’s selfish to use everything for ourselves and not leave it to future generations.

Right answer: We’re not raping the environment. Whoever told you that is wrong. More human beings survive and live comfortably in the United States and countries like it than in poor countries who are unable or unwilling to reshape their environment. It is important to be neat, clean and careful about others’ rights to property and health, but nobody can claim that it’s wrong to make use of our natural resources to improve all our lives. You’re fortunate to live in such a civilization, and you should be proud of it. Just imagine a life without heat, air conditioning, cars, doctors, hospitals and televisions or computers. Let’s examine what life is like in countries without these benefits. People who accuse us of raping the environment want us to return to those times, even though they deny it. Is that what you want?

Q: Daddy, why do some people have more money than others?

Wrong answer: There are unfair advantages that some people have in our society over others. For example, women and minorities make less money than white men. We look to our leaders to right these wrongs so that it’s a fairer society.

Right answer: Some people work harder than others and, therefore, make more money. Others are in professions for which there’s simply higher demand and, therefore, the pay is higher. Still others take greater risks than most people—in the stock market or real estate, for example. Many times these risks don’t pay off, but when they do, the financial gain can be large. There’s nothing wrong with making lots of money, so long as you gain it honestly. Those who take greater risks, or who make unusual discoveries or contributions, certainly deserve the large amounts of money they earn.