I feel very lucky. In many ways, Declan is incredibly thoughtful. He shares. He thinks. He helps.

But sometimes, I look around and see others, how they grew up – and I get scared. Scared he will change and turn and twist throughout the tumultuous teen years until I don’t even know him anymore.

I know that selfishness can be a mode of protection. I definitely have it in me when I build a wall, tell people no, shut things out.

But when selfishness goes so far – allows people to cloud their judgment so much? I have seen levels of it recently that astound me. It would actually be selfish of me to waste your time describing it – but the worst part? This selfish person thinks she is generous.

How does that happen?

How do people shift their perception so strongly that they use people and let themselves think it’s a good thing? That they are doing the right thing?

And how to do I make sure my son never goes down that path?

Tree With Dripping Moss

This article has 12 comments

  1. tracy

    I am all too familiar with this phenomenon.

    I’m currently living this phenomenon with my (future ex) husband who’s logic went out the window long ago, and who’s perception is so unbelievably skewed that I don’t think he’s at all in touch with the reality of our “situation”…..which is not good when there’s a 3 year old child involved.

    Although I don’t know you even a teensy bit, you seem pretty damn nice to me, & I don’t see lost perception being an issue for you.

  2. San

    There is a really fine line between being that person that “shares, thinks, helps” and being “used” by others…. which means, Declan needs a bit of selfishness, too.

    But I think you’re instilled good values in him and he knows how to be a good person, so I would not worry too much. I don’t think he’s one of the people that will turn into a “selfish a–hole”. On the other hand, he needs to know when to stand up for himself.

  3. Anonymous

    You sound like you are worrying over nothing.

  4. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Great points, all, thanks! ūüôā

  5. Kim Hosey

    I wish I could offer more than commiseration here, but, well, that. I really identify with what you describe. I worry sometimes too. My son is thoughtful and creative and just an amazing person. I think I’ll be able to deal with teenage sullenness. I already deal with stubbornness, and in a way, it kind of makes me proud. But, in the dark areas of my mind, I worry. What if my son turns into an asshole? Or just as bad, what if he settles into an apathetic, nothing-special life?

    I don’t think pushing is the answer, but danged if that’s not the only tactic I know.

  6. AndreaS

    It’s a hard thing to do. You just keep working with them through those hard times. My kids were pains in the butt then, but we got through, you will too!

  7. Paul Merrill

    Teaching him to share.

    I know you’re already doing that, by example.

    But it’s one of those lessons that is worth teaching over and over. (I keep having to relearn it myself.)

  8. chloebear

    I think always reminding him of self reflection is the key, even at his young age. I really feel if we police ourselves (using a critical eye) then you can avoid becoming an a-hole.

  9. monstergirlee

    I’m so scared that my son will either grow up to be a jerk, or so naive that he’ll get taken advantage of. It’s literally something I think about every day. And I have no answers, I try to guide Sullivan when I can, and talk to him about the why’s of human behavior. But all the while working on building his character to be honest and true, even when it’s scarey.

    Ya know, our boys are so close in age, that whenever you write about tough parenting issues, I get all fired up, then weepy, then worried, and hopeful. I’ll let you know if I figure anything out.

  10. J at

    Two bits of advice, neither of which you actually need.

    1. Teach by example. Duh. I know you do that already.

    2. My daughter started pulling back from us a few years ago. A much younger cousin of mine, who is about 6 years older than my daughter, told us not to worry, she would wander (socially and emotionally) some during the teen years, but she’d be back. I did see her wandering some, and she’s only 15, but I kinda think she might be on her way back already. So hang in there. Some of it is tough.


    The best way to temper the selfish person is by making them volunteer for things they normally would not do. Work in a Soup kitchen or visting an old persons home.

  12. Temporary Walls New York

    The title was very sad. I don’t like to think anything about it.. Maybe it have the good reason for this.. Nice blog..

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