Destructive Four-Year-Old vs. Sensitive Atheist Mom

I know my daughter is only four, but she seems to be a bit destructive these days. Recently, she cut up two of her toys with scissors — an alien and a dinosaur. I really don’t know why and it was kind of impressive how much damage she could do with a pair of kids safety scissors.

My husband thought nothing of it but I found it disturbing. I’m very sensitive and tend to personify everything. I name my belongings and talk to my plants. I’ve always been like that. I would have never purposely hurt my toys when I was little.

It’s not just cutting up these two toys; my daughter throws things away with no problem. If she makes a drawing or painting she doesn’t like, she throws it away. I still struggle with that, hence the numerous paintings in our garage. 

It seems like I can find a personal connection to or sentimental value in almost anything so I find it shocking when my daughter doesn’t give getting rid of something a second thought.

I know my daughter is only four and this is way more about me than her, but I am really curious if there are any other atheists out there with this kind of sensitivity. Obviously, I know people and things don’t have souls but I still somehow feel connected to things and feel guilty if they’re not respected.

Are there any other super sensitive atheists out there?


  1. anat says

    My kid was just like that. My husband and I usually went with the policy of natural consequences – if he breaks his toys he has broken toys. The problem was he just got used to broken toys being the norm. (And I wonder if he thought we wanted him to have broken toys) Anyway, he just taped his broken toys up and played with them like that.

    When his carelessness/destructiveness was getting beyond our tolerance (especially when it got to books – we really had trouble with book destruction) we did temporarily confiscate his stuff until he was going to take care of it better – he created his own toys out of paper and other art/school supplies. I couldn’t help admire him for that.

    And yes, he used to destroy his own art work as well.

    I’m not sure how long destructiveness lasted – well into elementary school.

  2. Katydid says

    Storytime. Me, age five-ish, at the end of the 1960s. My family was out and about somewhere that was selling helium balloons and we children were allowed to pick out a balloon. In the mix of brightly-colored balloons was a black balloon. My parents made a remark about why in the world would someone put a black balloon among gaily-colored ones, and suddenly I felt sorry for the black balloon that it seemed like nobody wanted, so that’s the one I chose, so it would feel like someone cared for it.

  3. says

    Well, most kids had to learn that if you cut your doll’s hair it would stay short. Now, I never cared much about dolls, but I guess it’s a necessary lesson. My parents had a similar policy to anat’s and it’s similar to how we raise our kids. You break it, bad luck. It might get replaced, but only for your birthday or such.
    Two weeks ago #1 was mighty annoyed at the fact that she had to cough up money after she lost the voucher to charge her phone (part of her allowance). It’s not like we don’t have the money, it’s that I don’t want to spoil her rotten.

  4. Katydid says

    Is your daughter destructive to live things, or just inanimate ones? If she respecting living things (bugs, butterflies, grasshoppers, etc.) then it might just be a matter of time before she starts respecting inanimate ones. Did you ask her how the toys might feel to be cut up like that, and if she’d like if someone else destroyed her toys?

    Here’s my theory as the parent of grown kids; they all have their own wiring. It might be similar to yours or it might be completely different, and no matter what kind of nurturing you give them, there’s a core that’s just them, in their DNA. Maybe she’s going to be less sensitive than you are, but still a wonderful person?

    • ashes says

      I think you’re right. She’s respectful of living things. She loves cats and dogs but she can be a little reckless with plants (my poor hostas). If it moves she’s respectful so it probably is just a matter of time before she is more careful with inanimate objects.

      Those are good questions you brought up for me to ask her about her toys. I’m curious and I think I’m going to try that.

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