Ethics question

Situation: You are playing the card game “Uno” (on-line java version of the game here) with a 12-year-old girl who 1) is on the verge of tears after hearing a story about the cute little kitten of a friend of her little sister which was playing with its dog friend in the family’s garage by the father’s truck and got squished by a falling truck part, fatally, and 2) really, really hates to lose games when you 3) deal yourself a hand full of penalty cards with which you could, according to the rules, make her draw +2 and +4 cards several times, causing her – hypothetically – to suffer humiliating defeat.

Do you 1) play the cards anyway out of a sadistic well-meaning and pedagogically-sound desire to teach her that, sometimes, life sucks, and she should get used to it as early as possible or 2) avoid playing the cards, even after she gives you several such penalty cards, making you draw extra cards?

13 responses to “Ethics question

  1. BtC

    Is this a trick question for the mules? All of the breeders know the answer to this without even pause.

  2. Just try really really really hard not to let her know you let her win.
    But yeah, what kd said.

    Next time choose Monopoly. That’s easier to lose, and gives the kid a great sense of satisfaction.


  3. yep. lose. “life sucks sometimes” is not that important a lesson to be taught.

  4. She was so taking you for a ride.

  5. kd

    what i was saying with that roundabout post was, don’t lose! kids know you’re doing it & lose respect, either for you or themselves.

    play fair. really.

  6. If children have no losses to cope with, they never develop coping skills. One cannot get by in life easily without coping skills. Teaching her to lose gracefully is a far better lesson than teaching her that if you are sad, people will let you win.

    My daughter, who is almost 12, said to me the other day that she knows I let her win all those times and she hated it. It did nothing for her self esteem to realize that she really wasn’t that good at checker, she was just being duped into thinking she was.

  7. D

    Crush your enemies without pity or mercy! Grind them under the heel of your boot to the lamentations of their womenfolk! Next time play “Risk” and tell her you’re starting with full control of Asia.

  8. The lesson wasn’t coping skills or life sucks..these are big ones and there are plenty of times to help them with that. I hate it when life disappoints them.

    The lesson was that someone loved them so much that they would let them win always. They knew and loved it. They would sometimes try to make it hard for me to lose.

  9. How do you teach a child to lose gracefully?
    Beta has always hated to lose, and been a terrible loser. Despite the fact that we rarely let her win – the Uno game in question was an exception, because she was sad. Gamma came along and was totally different – she enjoys the game, and isn’t so worried about winning or losing, taking a completely different approach than her big sister, although we didn’t really do anything differently, parenting-wise, as far as I can tell. The two approaches seem more hard-wired into them than taught.

  10. When I learn how to teach a child to lose gracefully I will let you know. Neither of my kids are good losers. They aren’t even good winners, which is probably why I don’t let them win. I don’t want to give them reason to gloat.

    And on second thought (and in a less bitter mood), the circumstances probably called for you letting her win.

  11. D

    Space, I absolutely know what you’re talking about there, my father and I would play this game based on the D-day landings and he always played the Allies. Yeah, um… right, so I have no air support, no naval support and I’m undergunned and manned, and you have the entire invading fleet and combined ar,ies all focused on four beaches. Right. Sure I want to play.

    Would it be smug of me to gloat over the fact I actually won a game once on a good day and pushed the Allies back into the English channel? maybe not…

  12. i have an 11yo daughter, and i used to let her win when she was younger, but she’s become something of a card shark, so i relish the rare occasion when fate deals me winning cards.

    children cannot learn to lose gracefully if they don’t lose; who better to learn from than a parent? twelve is certainly old enough to learn that 1) if you want to win, you have to strategize; and 2) there is no reason to chance; and 3) sometimes you are crushed like the insect you are, no matter what you do, and life goes on.

    my dad never cut me any slack, and beating him that one time at chess remains one of my greatest accomplishments. but i’m still a terrible loser, which is why i stopped playing with him once i was old enough to come up with valid excuses ;)