Monthly Archives: October 2013

Fairness and parenting

When my sister and I were little, my mother was always nicer to other children.

She wasn’t, obviously, but it sometimes seemed that way. When something needed shared or someone got to make a choice, the people who benefited tended to be our guests and not us. For years, my sister deeply resented a family friend to whom, on one never-forgotten occasion, she had to relinquish her packet of salt and vinegar crisps.

That’s one particular occasion, though, and says more about the intense feelings my sister cherished (and cherishes) for salt and vinegar crisps than about being nice to guests. In general, it didn’t bother us, and in general we understood that when you have guests, you look after them.

It was generally the way things were but not always. The thing that interests me, looking back, is how I felt about parents who clearly favoured their own children. And I can only think of one example, actually, of someone who did. We hated going to her house, though we did like the kids. By contrast, my mum was ridiculously popular with the neighbourhood kids and my school friends, and we had kids in and out of our house all the time (she wasn’t soft — I feel the need to say — she was pretty strict, but she was fair).

It’s weird, because of course you like your own kids better than anyone else’s. However lovely someone else’s child is (and my boys have some adorable friends), your kids are yours, and you understand them better.

So two thoughts:

(a) Is being fair between kids a good thing, even if it means prioritising another child’s desires over your own child’s? I think it is — I think it helps kids understand that they don’t always have to get exactly what they want, and they’re still special and loved. I think it’s part of the whole ethical parenting thing (see this article in the Tablet for really interesting thoughts on morality in parenting).

(b) Does such an approach teach your child that others are more important than they are? Does that impact on their self-confidence and self-belief? I hope not. A child who is secure and loved surely doesn’t have to be most important all the time?

Now my head hurts. This parenting stuff is complicated.

Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

I just finished reading this and I’m reading it again so it’s probably obvious that I liked it.

Disclosure: I love the way Holly Black writes, and I love what she writes. I haven’t read all the Spiderwick Chronicles yet (because my kids get scared and I have to stop) but the books of The Curse Workers trilogy are among my absolute favourites, I love Valiant and I was sick with envy and Image of Coldest Girl in Coldtown cover (hand with writing down inside of the wrist)also (a little) with love at the tortured fae knight of Tithe.

It would take a lot to make me hate something Holly Black wrote.

I’ll try to come up with a negative… um. I didn’t like the writing quite as much as I liked the writing in the Curse Workers, and I have a feeling that might have been because it’s third person past instead of first person present. I know lots of people prefer third person past, but I find fpp ridiculously immersive and instantly involving. Not much of a negative, because I still loved the writing. There were sections — especially of conversation — that I loved beyond all reason.

Second maybe-negative: vampires. I’ve read a fair number of vampire books over the last few years (Sunshine by Robin McKinley was probably my favourite, with all the cinnamon rolls and the fantastic touches of worldbuilding — I so badly wanted the story to continue and I’m sick that she never writes sequels — but I enjoyed Twilight and the Sookie books and lots of others too, and I read Anne Rice all those years ago (but I confess I probably liked her witches books better than the vampire ones)). I was so very sure I was sick of vampires. There was a stage when I picked up a book, discovered the love interest was a vampire and put the book down again straight away.

This isn’t really a negative either, for The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, because I didn’t hate these vampires at all (except the ones I was meant to hate — I mean, they didn’t make me groan and close the book just because they were vampires).

But… (the rest of this post contains kind-of spoilers for The Coldest Girl in Coldtown — proceed to page 2 if you don’t care)