Child Ownership and Dicipline

I am not a parent myself. I hope to one day become a mother to a beautiful bouncing baby (girl), but as of yet that isn’t the case. Still, hearing stories about parents who have taken large gifts away from their children and resold them upsets me greatly.

In legality, if I purchased something, and then gave it to my mother as a gift? Then my act of gifting it to her as a Birthday or Holiday present would transfer the legal right of ownership to her despite the fact that I initially paid for the item. That item, once gifted with verbal or written intent, is therefore no longer legally my possession, but hers. If I tried to take it back from her because she upset me, she did not like it, or any other reason it would be theft unless she gifted it back to me or otherwise gave me permission to do so (therefore re-transfering those ownership rights in partial or full).

If that is the case, then… Why do we think that because “we bought it for our children” (and gave it to them, making it their property regardless of whether or not they are a legal adult) we have “a right” to do with it as we see fit; that an acceptable method of punishment is to take away something that rightfully and legally belongs to them, which we have no right to remove from their possession?

Legally- despite a slew of parents in Yahoo! Answers trying to convince you that they do have the right do do so- we actually don’t except in instances where specific, individual state laws say that we do concerning certain items.

Bottom line: Children can own property, even if they cannot always enter into legally binding contracts as a minor; they can legally own Cars and even Houses, and can especially own small or large personal items. That means that the IPod, the XBox One, those Video Games, etc, that you purchased and gave to them for Christmas, or a Birthday, or Easter, or because they received good marks on their report card last semester all legally belong to your children. If you purchased something and gave it to them, it becomes their property. It doesn’t remain yours “to do with as you please” because “you’re the parent and you bought it”. It’s theirs. Plain and simple. Taking them and reselling them- while they can’t fight you about it- is still morally and legally theft.

Quite frankly, I also do not think that it teaches a very good lesson, either. How many times in life will the loss of their actual, legal possessions be the punishment for breaking the law? Not often, and you cannot cite “but you loose your driver’s license if […]” because you do not legally own you license. It is a certificate granted to you by the state that you must pay them to upkeep and which is subject to a certain “Terms of Use/ Service” if you will. Not very many adult laws result in the loss of property unless you willingly offer up your property as collateral, or certain property is involved in certain crimes.

Truth be told, if your upset about the fact that your child lied to you about the rating on a game, or is mistreating their Ipod, or if your child is spending too much time on WoW and not enough time on their Homework? Then a much more sensible, lesson teaching punishment is one that fits the crime without teaching them that “their stuff isn’t really theirs… Even though it legally is”.

For the child lied to you about that rating and content of a Video Game, taking the game away from them probably won’t do anything (and, more than likely, they have friends who play it, and they’ll usually either just borrow it from them or play it at their house anyways). Instead, refuse to buy them anything else because they have mistreated your trust by lying to you about it; if you bought your child an IPod for Christmas and they keep mistreating it, taking it away from them won’t teach them to take better care of their stuff. Allowing them to keep it and refusing to replace it when it’s broken, though, will teach them to treat their stuff right if they want it to last; that WoW game you bought your child might legally be theirs, but that doesn’t mean either the internet connection or P2P account required to play it is. Instead of taking the game away, take the internet away instead, or cancel the account you’re paying for. Better yet, use WoW’s parental settings to set up a time limit for login-  after all, these are both things that you are actually paying to upkeep and weren’t actually given to them.

Whatever you do, I don’t feel that the answer is to take their items and throw them away, or resell an entire console and 50 or more games that aren’t legally yours anymore even if you did originally buy them. Not to mention it’s morally reprehensible, in my opinion.

We complain all the time about how “mentally stunted” children and young adults are, and yet it’s because we continue to treat them as less than Human non-individuals who cannot think rationally or act maturely (which, if you know anything abut “self Fulfilling Prophecies”, makes this one giant one). If you wouldn’t think it acceptable to treat an adult like that (taking away a gift you bought them because they angered you or you didn’t like the way they were treating it despite it wholly being their legal property upon you gifting it to them), then why would you think it acceptable to treat a child like that?

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