Cookies or Crumbs

Are you teaching our teens to be assertive or be the martyr?

Are you enjoying cookies or crumbs?

Mmmm….cookies 🍪 Make cookies for your teens, then share this cookie 🍪 metaphor with them:

“Imagine that you are with a group of friends and some yummy, warm, homemade chocolate chip cookies 🍪 are put on a plate but there’s not quite enough.

Everyone goes to grab one, but by the time the sweetest and kindest person reaches for one, they’re all gone and that person is left with…crumbs.

This person is “too nice” to say anything and so nobody thinks it’s a problem.

The rest of the group eats their whole cookie 🍪 , while this person just has crumbs.

❓How does it feel to be the one who was left with crumbs?

❓How does it feel to watch the others eating a whole cookie?

If we accept the situation and don’t say anything, we’re giving the silent message that it’s OK.

I only need crumbs.

I don’t deserve a whole cookie 🍪

(I’m not as important as you.)

The next week, the same situation happens again and the same person is left with crumbs.

Now it’s accepted that this person is OK with getting the crumbs.”

🌟I already know that somebody out there is going to say that it’s thoughtful, service minded, kind to let others take a cookie, and in a sense that is true!

But think of the others who selfishly don’t offer to share part of their cookie (or maybe they do and the crumbs kid passes).

We want to empower our kids to speak up for themselves.

To value themselves.

To not be treated “less than.”

Not to be a martyr.

By sharing stories like this, and walking them through the scenario, we teach them to recognize their individual intrinsic worth.

📌PIN for later and discuss at the dinner table!

👉But first, tell me: what is your favorite cookie🍪 ? Do you go for the chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, peanut butter, maybe a no bake?

Thoughts on this cookies or crumb metaphor? You can disagree, I want to hear! I know there are a lot of moms out there who put their family ahead of themselves all the time, admirable or sending the wrong message? #kristendukechats

Here’s what the community is saying:

  • “Chocolate chip are my favorite cookies. I have started to dislike the connotation of the term selfless. Somehow it has become a term for a martyr who gives everything to everyone else and doesn’t think about themselves. Somehow it’s become noble and I don’t think that’s noble at all. Serving and loving others is absolutely wonderful but we don’t have to totally give up ourselves to do that. In fact I think when we are confident and love ourselves we have more to give others and can avoid resentment.”
  • “With my kids I always encourage them to look around and see who got the crumbs and share their portion. Sometimes you get the cookie and sometimes you get the crumbs but when you get the cookie, see who might not have gotten one and see if it’s possible to share. Hmmm favorite cookie…well there are so many good ones but I really like a white chocolate chip cookie or a snickerdoodle, or pumpkin chocolate chip….too many to decide!”
  • “My initial thoughts are this: sometimes you’re going to be the one who takes the cookie, sometimes you are going to be the one left with crumbs. And there are probably instances where both are okay. It doesn’t mean you are selfish or less than unless you make it mean that. 🤔 This would be a great discussion 😄 Growing up, I would’ve been the one left with crumbs – I always wanted to make sure people were taken care of.Pumpkin cookies with cream cheese frosting because it’s November 😋”
  • “A thought. I like where it ended up, but I think it can be pushed further in several ways. Here’s the one that immediately came to mind: those who are taking the cookies, this is just normal life. They’ve enjoyed warm cookies from the oven on a very regular basis because parents and neighbors’ parents provide them. Yet the one crumbs person gets the shaft, yes, and has become used to it themselves. Maybe they feel unworthy of the cookie, and can’t figure out why the “friends” wouldn’t share, even though the “friends” are good, kind people. So the crumb person seeks out other crumb people to feel camaraderie. The crumb society assures each other “that’s just the way it is”, “things will never change”, “deep down they don’t want us to have any cookies.” But one crumb person simply asks “why?” Which makes others ask why. Which prompts an organized group to show up at a cookie house and calmly ask “why?” The cookie people all react differently, but generally nothing changes.This is how race relations have worked in this country since its inception. In your analogy, you end up prompting the crumb folk to stand up for themselves. In our country, black people are doing that, almost entirely peacefully. They get reviled for “making a fuss”, and “causing trouble” because they “get so many crumbs” and “what more could you possibly want?”It’s very obvious what black people want. For the status quo to change. But there’s so much resistance from white friends, neighbors, policy-makers. So the question becomes “why?””
  • “Love this so so much! I grew up internalizing the idea that being kind and unselfish was the number one value over everything else – and it is important! But I didn’t realize that meant I needed to also include myself in that. I really want my teen to understand how to be kind with boundaries so she keeps herself taken care of while she also looks out for others.”
  • “I was the one with crumbs growing up. My daughter’s are far more outspoken than I ever was. I think my oldest had a hard time in high school, we’re in a very cliquey small town, but she is THRIVING at college. If some are getting crumbs in high school, the bigger world is coming, and you’ll find your people who will share there cookies and some will save you one! And I love a good gingersnap!”
  • “Oh this is good! My daughter was in this situation for a while and it brought her spirits down. We have since changed situations and I am slowly watching her gain confidence again. It’s a great reminder as a parent to teach our children to be kind, yet respectfully stand up for themselves. Also, my favorite cookie is a chocolate chip cookie!”
  • “I love this! I can’t stand when my kids are doormats who won’t say what they think or stand up for themselves. It’s one of the most vital skills a human can have! Use your voice!”
  • “Do you have advise how we can best help out kids that always pick the crumbs? I’m afraid they have learned that from me and my husband- people pleaser… so I’m not exactly sure how we can help them.”
  • “I love a good chocolate chip cookie, but we just made ginger snaps the other night and they are fabulous!
    This metaphor is good food for thought. The “nice” thinking of “you go ahead, I only need crumbs” can certainly start to build up resentment, and doesn’t help the cookie-grabbers be more aware of others’ needs – not that it’s our job to make them aware. I also think there’s a difference between happily passing on cookies so others can have them, and settling for the leftover crumbs after prioritizing everyone else. I think we sometimes confuse the two.”
  • “Very insightful parable-As a mom of 3 teenage girls-I struggle with teaching them the fine line between being kind and generous to others while still advocating and taking care of themself too. It is a tricky balance for me as an adult let alone a teacher to teen girls-I think this story will bring good conversation in our home. Thank you for sharing 💜”
  • “I think would be a good analogy to share with my kids. I e noticed that sometimes some of my kids will ask me for something and then I may forget to do the thing with them or make time for what they ask for. And then later they will be passive aggressive about what I’ve forgotten. As opposed to just making sure they remind me and get what they want. This analogy is good for teaching that they take responsibility for what they need or want. Especially if they need or want something and it’s not a top priority for me (but it is for them). Like inviting friends da over or playing a game on their phone…. I’m not sure if this make sense to you but it is super helpful to me. Thanks!”
  • “I love a good chocolate chip cookie 🍪 I agree with so many comments here and believe it depends on some situations – there’s a time for cookies and a time for crumb me and not enough space here for me to say it all 😂🙈”
  • “I learned 2 lessons with this! 1. It’s ok to be the one with the crumbs every now and then but you need to stick up for yourself. 2. Be the person to share your cookie with the one that has the crumbs. Both important lessons!”
  • “My husband and I are now chatting with our 14 yo about this. It’s giving us some insight into how she thinks about herself and what she thinks is acceptable.”
  • “Kristen! This is SPOT ON! I will definitely share this with my 14 y/o daughter and will pass it on to my friends. Thank you!💕💕”
  • “Yes, yes, yes! And sometimes we have to go bake our own cookies!!”
  • “I have an absolute “cookie” teen who seriously would see no problem in taking the cookie…they pushed for their goals, they were more aggressive, etc. so they naturally deserve the cookie….trying to think of a way to flip this so they understand that they don’t always need to be the cookie eater….🤔”
  • “I am diabetic but have a major weakness for Snickerdoodles! I can relate to this because I was giving my family crumbs foe a long time. As a teacher, oftentimes, we have to have a side hustle to help make ends meet. After a long week of teaching, I make cakes on the weekends. I realized that I was taking so much time to making something foe others who didn’t truly appreciate it the way my family appreciated and needed my time. I’ve finally slowed down, and I’ve learned to say no when I am stretched way too thin. I still need to work on it, but I’m a lot better about it. For the most part, I’m giving my family cookies, now.”

Want another fun way to connect with your kids? Try these Consider This discussion cards:

Consider This Cards


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Thank you for joining my email list! I can’t wait to spoil you and promise to keep your email address private