FYI, If Your Daughter Offers To Give Away An Heirloom, Some Crazy Person May Think It’s A Binding Contract

shutterstock_145872221__1374338677_97.68.50.234Today’s installment of “WTF?” comes from a Dear Prudence column. A mother writes in for advice about an uncomfortable situation her 8-year-old daughter landed her in, when she offered to give away an expensive dollhouse to a friend, and the friend’s mother took the 8-year-old’s offer as some sort of binding contract:

My 8-year-old daughter recently had a friend over for a play date. The girls played in her room, and my daughter’s friend was playing with our doll house. My daughter told her she could have the doll house and all the furniture, etc. as she didn’t play with it anymore, and the friend looked thrilled. Happily I was nearby to defuse this, so I jumped in to say that no, she could not have the doll house, and that my daughter was not allowed to give away things without permission first. My daughter’s friend seemed fine, and I explained that this doll house was expensive, and that we were keeping it for younger siblings, and also for when cousins and friends visit. The girls moved on to play dress-up. However, about an hour after the friend went home, I got an irate email from her mother, who insists her daughter was “crushed” by my “miserly” attitude, and that I wasn’t teaching my daughter the “joys of giving.” She claims that my daughter’s mention of the gift was binding, and that we “owe” her the doll house.

Wow. This is how this interaction would’ve gone over in my house, had my daughter come home crushed that she wasn’t given someone else’s family heirloom:
Daughter: Mom! I’m crushed. Sally gave me her dead grandmother’s dollhouse and her mom wouldn’t let me take it.

Me: Get over it. It doesn’t belong to you. Wipe that frown off your face before I go into your room and pick out something to donate to Goodwill.

And this is how I would have responded to mom’s email:

Sorry. Your daughter is welcome to come over and play with my child, but she will not be returning home with my wedding dress or my grandmother’s china set, either.

Prudence basically advises the mother to ignore this crazy person and feel sorry for her daughter. I whole-heartedly agree. I’m often amazed that people can survive into adulthood with no common sense. It is truly amazing.

(photo: ra2studio/ Shutterstock)

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  • keelhaulrose

    I’d just reply “last I checked, 8 year olds weren’t allowed to negotiate contracts”and let the armchair lawyer soak in the legalese.

  • Zettai

    WTF. There is no escaping the crazy nowadays.

  • Madame Ovaries

    I read Prudie on the regs and this letter stuck with me too. I mean, If I had to make good on everything I said I would do when I was eight, I would have to track down JTT and marry him in a lavish Lisa Frank themed ceremony, but, you know, no one is making me do that.

    • Justme

      Too bad. I’m envisioned a rainbow tulle dress and everyone decked out in their best glittered ensembles. And you can’t forget the unicorns.

    • Wendy

      OMG I would have fought you for him. :)

    • BlueBelle

      Everyone is a little bit worse off that you didn’t have that JTT Lisa Frank wedding, by the way. The bouquet of feather pens you could have had. The officiant reading out of a Trapper Keeper… Everyone could chuck little flamingo erasers at you guys as you exited the chapel. Sigh. Dreams dashed.

    • Madame Ovaries

      LOL! Officiant reading out of a Trapper Keeper = perfect touch. If I ever manage to convince JTT to tie the knot you are toats going to be the wedding planner. :-)

    • Shelly Lloyd

      If I ever get remarried again I am so doing a Lisa Frank wedding. I love the ideal of a bouquet of feather pens. :)

  • whiteroses

    She’s eight years old. Maybe in Crazypersonland that entitles her to give away her possessions, but here in Regularpeopleville we talk to parents first.

  • Frances Locke

    Wow. Just wow. I had something similar happen, only it wasn’t over something expensive. When I explained to the girl and her mom (this happened at a local park) that the toy was a favorite of my youngest son, who wasn’t there, and that I couldn’t just give it away. The mom then said to me “What, some piece of crap you got at the dollar store? Who cares, my son is so upset!”. I was like wTF? It doesn’t matter how expensive it was, it;s our piece of crap, dammit!

    • Emmali Lucia

      I would’ve said “Then go to the dollar store and get your son one, woman.”

    • Iwill Findu

      *Sarcasm* Really how selfish that mother was dealing with her child being crushed right at that moment. Why should she care that your child might be upset that you gave away his toy when he wasn’t there? *Sarcasm ending*
      In all seriousness this would be the perfect time to teach your child about possessions and personal property, “I want it and so there for it’s mine” is a good way to get into lots of legal trouble later in life, how can parents even think this is a good thing to teach their kids?

  • Muggle

    If I recall the letter correctly from when I read it a few days ago, when the mom writing in said no, the other girl was perfectly okay with it and wasn’t/isn’t upset about not getting the dollhouse. It’s insane how parents think they HAVE to fight every single battle for their kids even when there isn’t one to fight!

  • Blahblah

    Oh, you have to give someone something just because they ask? That’s the rule now? Sweet! Time for me to get a new car!

    In all seriousness, that is not how it works. An eight year old can’t give away something without asking their parents. I have never met any parent who would declare that they were “owed” something that way.

  • Paul White

    Contracts have to involve something on the part of both parties–some exchange of goods and/or services. It can’t be one sided.

  • Wendy

    Meanwhile, I am delighted when my kids don’t bring home extra stuff they don’t need (especially giant stuff). I would never try to acquire more giant toys with more pieces to trip on, clean up, and get sucked into the vacuum.

  • noelle 02

    Yeah, we’ll always remember when my eight year old sister gave two friends each a $100 bill. Thankfully, they had the sense to know that might not be right and checked with my mother. We exchanged the $100 for $1 and everyone went home happy. My sister got a nice lesson that evening about value and stupid gifts.

  • Sara610

    When my sister was six and we were getting ready to move, she sold our house to a couple for $100. Of course, they weren’t total morons so they understood that young children aren’t capable of entering into contracts and really shouldn’t be taken seriously when they offer something like that.

    • Sarah Hollowell

      That sounds like the kind of situation that is adorable when no one involved is insane.

  • Sarah Hollowell

    When she was a kid, my friend’s wife lived on a farm. They had peacocks. One day her sister – who was like six – decided that she wanted one of their neighbor’s puppies, so she grabbed a peacock, and walked down the road to their neighbor’s house to exchange it for a puppy. I’m pretty sure the neighbors gave the peacock back and she just got to keep the puppy.

    I just really love the image of a little six-year-old marching down the road with a large, confused peacock in her arms.

    • CrazyFor Kate

      An Australian friend of mine, at the age of 4, walked into his house carrying a brown snake (AKA a super deadly snake) while proudly announcing “Mummy, look what I’ve got!”

      To her credit, she calmly told him to put it back in its home outdoors, and he’s still alive today so clearly it didn’t hurt him, but imagine being that mother!

    • Gangle

      Flipping brown snake!!! My heart would have been in my throat! Lucky it was not feeling aggressive that day :o

    • Paul White

      Replace that with copperhead (much less venomous granted) and you have me. I knew what it was though, so I was “careful” and put it in a box, using a stick.

    • Gangle

      That is super adorable!

    • Shelly Lloyd

      That is the cutest story I have heard all week. Thank you for sharing it.

  • Kba

    When I was 8, my best friend was embarrassed of her middle name, LaRue. To make her feel better, I swore I’d name my first daughter, “LaRue.” I haven’t seen that girl since the 5th grade…really hope I never have to follow up on that one…

  • SOA

    Yes, you were fine to not give her the doll house but the one you really need to be mad at is your own daughter because she started the whole thing by offering to give the dollhouse away in the first place. You need to be having a conversation with your daughter about never giving anything away in the future without asking you first. The other mother may not have known it was an heirloom dollhouse or know the circumstances. I would not have emailed you about it, but I would wonder why you were blaming someone else for what YOUR daughter did by staring the whole thing in the first place.