The Good vs Bad question

For sometime I have been fielding questions about what is good or bad and who is good or bad. The other day Dhruv came up and asked me, “Is shut-up a bad word?” to which I replied that it is rude for a person to tell somebody to shut up. Since one answer is never enough to clear the air of confusion in his head, another question popped up, “Is it only rude for older people to say shut up or is it the same for children too?” I answered, “It is rude for both children and adults.” His next, “But, is it bad?” “Yes, being rude is bad“, I said. “No No. You did not answer. Is shut-up a bad word?” he pestered. Realizing the loop I created I told, “Yes, it is.” Finally satisfied, his next tale began about him breaking friendship with a certain boy from the school bus because that friend spoke bad words to him and the bad word was shut up.

Another round of Good vs Bad discussion took place upon watching the movie Angry Birds.


Is Red good or bad? Is he bad because he likes nobody and nobody likes him? Are the pigs good or bad? Is the King Pig bad because he stole the birds’ eggs? Stealing is bad so he must be bad?

There were pauses between his questions which I could not fill with my answers the first time he posed them to me. But, the good thing about him is he never forgets his unanswered questions or those for which he does not get satisfactory answers and thus he keeps coming back. The problem, however, is I have subjective answers and Dhruv desires objectivity.

Going ahead with my undesired subjectivity, I explained, “None of them – Red, the pigs or the King Pig were absolutely good or bad. Red was bad for his anger issues and his problems with everyone on the birds island but he saved all the eggs  in the end so he was good. The pigs were good because they followed their King’s orders sincerely but since they were part of the stealing the eggs act hence they were bad. The King Pig was bad for destroying the birds island and running off with the eggs, still he was good for the pigs of his kingdom as he got eggs for them to eat.

Continuing my discourse, “Therefore, you see, nobody is a complete good or bad. Even you and I are both good and bad.” To this he started crying repeating “We are good people, we are not bad.

On such days I feel how difficult can it be to get things right.

How would you deal with such questions?

Linking this post with Microblog Mondays and Monday Musings


#Monday Musings


  1. I have no idea how to deal with such questions. But you did a great job there . I wouldn’t have been able to field such questions. Kids have impressionable minds and it’s so important to come up with answers like you did, I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it though. Well, done 😊


    1. Trust me, you will be able to handle all such questions and many more valiantly when the right time will come. I have mentioned the word valiant because it does sound like that after being able to answer the questions satisfactorily.


  2. I remember my daughter asking me what the word “Idiot” meant, and why her friend had apparently used it? In some real polite words, She thought for a whole and then told me that its really not a nice word and that people should not be using it. I was glad that she understood it in her own sweet way.


    1. How wonderful it is that she understood on her own. We have also had an earlier discussion about the word Idiot and now we are putting together a list of bad words which for now includes – Idiot, fool, katti, shut-up and shit. You have given me a good idea about replacing the term ‘bad’ with ‘not so nice’ 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lol!!! I can actually imagine Dhruv asking all these questions and his expressions etc. I hope he made up with that Bus friend of his 😉 Good going Didi!! Your writings are going to be a very nice repository of experiences of both of you, which you and Dhurv can always go back to relive the moments 🙂


  4. Its a tricky question. My son asks me ‘Is God real?’ I say ‘yes’ and then he goes with ‘but we never see him. You said we should believe only what we see. Then Ghosts must be real too. we don’t see them but everyone says they exist. ‘ and it goes on.. Be prepared.


  5. Kids tend to outsmart us a lot 😉 That being said, I think you’ve done a commendable job of answering his queries. Oh and get ready, they will get trickier as her grows older. 😀


  6. Despite of me much older than Dhruv, I still think of the same question at times. Why everything, mostly everything has a subjective impression?? I wonder, if it is the other way round how easy and clear everything will become.


  7. The thing is, sometimes even we grown ups can’t differentiate between what is good and bad. Some people may consider a thing good/bad from their point of view, but for someone else the same thing might be bad/good!
    It’s all about perceptions, individual believes and thoughts. And we keep learning the answer to the question D asked everyday! You did a good job explaining to him the reasons behind why each character was good or bad. 🙂


  8. Very pertinent question and very thoughtful of Dhruv to have come up with that question. Actually, looking back, I remember Arjyo too used to have loads of questions for us. I’ve always been very honest in answering them. Sometimes stumped no doubt, as you know how it can get 🙂 I’d say you’ve done a good job of tackling his questions so far and they are many!!! Children eventually find their own answers and beliefs about what they feel is right and what works. Arjyo was always an agnostic as a child but over the recent years has realised that he has turned into a believer. We did nothing to prove or disprove anything. Many questions get answered to them over time and I sometimes tell him, that I do not wish to give you answers to everything. Some things you will figure out on your own.


    1. This is true. No matter how much I answer his questions or try to solve his mysteries, eventually he will have to work out his own beliefs. It may not be necessary that the answers which are sufficient for me are going to be the same for him also. He is a unique soul and his capacity to take in things may vary from mine by a wide margin. When he enquirers about concepts related to God, I always begin with ‘As far as I understand…’ to leave scope for him to not take my words as ultimate.


  9. Your posts reminded me of the days when one dares to fire me with questions except naughty Mithu. He would knock me off with his relevant and irrelevant questions right from the time he started to speak. In fact, sometimes I struggled a lot to answer him. I was a known professor at my college for clearing the doubts of my students at first hand and that was of no use with Mithu. Now also the questions continue…… but the contexts are changing fast …… My love to Dhruv ……


  10. I think that just by trying to help him understand the concepts, it should count as the “right” answer. He’ll have his light bulb moment when he’s ready, and it will be an especially shiny moment with such a wonderful mother supplying the electricity. 🙂


  11. Gosh! That’s hard but cool of you to answer that in the most right manner. Maybe get him some water and tell him how water is both cold and hot. The part that’s more defines is actual temperature of water. And relate it back to people. Did I just say something stupid? Oh man! This sure is hard 😉


  12. You handled it perfectly Anamika. This good vs bad question is a tough one to handle specially because the world is full of greys. I used to tell the kids that all people are basically good but they have some bad habits that get them into trouble. That worked well when they were young and applied perfectly to children around them. They have enough time to find out about the truly evil people when they grow up.


  13. Oh my! It sure can be hard to come up with objective answers to questions like these! But only with subjective answers will kids eventually learn that things are not black and white, but grey. No?


  14. We tell the kids there are no good or bad words, just good or bad uses for words. For instance, would it be bad to say, “And the alarm wouldn’t shut up!” No, it conveys our annoyance with the alarm and our wish that it would stop at our insistence. Which is very different than silencing a friend who is trying to tell you something. Which is also very different than silencing a non-friend who is saying something cruel about your friend.


  15. I’m just loving the conversations you two have. I love how he comes to you with those questions. When someone does something bad, I usually tell my kids: “That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad people. You only see them at school. We have no idea what they go through the rest of their lives.” The good,/ bad word thing is easier for me to deal with. I don’t know that all writers feel this way but I don’t believe any words themselves are bad. I love words and feel they all have their proper time and place. A few years back when my son was 7 or 8, the school bus driver summoned me over to tell me that he had been singing a made-up song on the bus and had used some particular words she wasn’t happy about. When she said something to him, he politely told her: “My mommy lets me use those words.” and she replied: “I’m sure she does not!” So I asked her what words they were while my son nervously stood by. “Vagina” and “booty”. And I said, in front of him. “I will speak to him about what’s appropriate on the school bus, but he’s right. We do use those words in our house. I mean… they’re real words.”


  16. OMG! Things will never get easy. Tantrums will convert to questions. Will keep these answers handy.


  17. dunno about him in the films. a number of angry birds are good and bad. in ab toons:

    good guys:
    the blues

    bad guys:

    piggy tales:
    everyone is bad

    angry birds stella:
    good guys:
    dahalia (turns a little evil when steals the golden egg)
    bad guys:
    gale (good at the start, but turns evil)
    handsome pig
    pig with a book on its head
    pig minions


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