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Raising Respectful Collectors: The Role of Parents in the Hobby Community

Updated: Jul 1

As someone who loves children and has spent the last several years cultivating spaces for them in the hobby, I have a message that may come as a surprise to those who know me personally. While I have a deep affection for kids and appreciate the joy and energy they bring, it’s time to be honest: your child doesn't belong here if you, as a parent, don't teach them manners and etiquette.

Understandably, small children can be shy and might not always say please and thank you. As a mother of four, I know this firsthand. I also recognize developmental and mental health issues are real and can affect behavior. These are not the issues I’m talking about. As more children enter this space, it is our job as their parents and guardians to teach them how to behave respectfully. Children mirror our behavior and act based on what we allow. Unfortunately, the influx of children has also brought an increase in bad-acting adults who are inadvertently teaching the next generation of collectors poor behavior.

The hobby is a fantastic learning tool for children. They get to collect awesome cards, learn how to do business, negotiate, haggle, research, save, and essentially run their own little empire. Through trading and collecting, they gain valuable skills that extend far beyond the hobby itself. For instance, they learn the importance of saving money for a sought-after card, the patience required to complete a collection, and the art of negotiation when making trades. These lessons in patience, financial management, and strategic thinking can benefit them in numerous aspects of their lives.

However, it is incredibly frustrating to see parents come to a show or a shop and just set their kids loose with no monitoring or guidance. Children need structure and supervision to navigate these environments successfully. Without it, they might inadvertently disrupt others, mishandle items, or behave inappropriately. As adults, it is our responsibility to teach them proper etiquette. For example, no, you cannot set your heavy box on someone’s showcase. No, you should not interrupt in the middle of a deal. And it is undeniably rude to simply ask for free things.

More often than not, your child will receive free things at shows. I personally hand out cards and packs to as many kids as I can. These small gestures of kindness are common in the hobby community and help foster a sense of camaraderie and joy among young collectors. But you, as their parent, should be there teaching them not to expect or demand these things and to always be grateful and thankful when they do

receive them. Encouraging children to express gratitude helps build their character and teaches them the value of generosity.

It is also grossly unfair to use your child to get free items or better deals. Some children in this space are undeniably advanced, yet their parents lurk behind them, egging them on to take advantage of dealers or other children. This behavior not only undermines the learning experience but also sets a poor example for the child. Children learn integrity and fairness when they are guided to conduct their transactions honestly and respectfully.

Much like in children's sports, often the parents are the worst part of kids’ experiences in the hobby. I recently hosted a kids' event where a mother yelled in my face because she felt her child didn't get a good enough prize. The poor child was so embarrassed. This was a free event her child did not have to participate in, yet she was so angry she humiliated her own child. Incidents like this highlight the importance of maintaining composure and setting a positive example for our children, especially in public settings.

Please, as parents, let's all do better to help raise and cultivate the next generation of collectors. Our children look to us for guidance on how to behave. Let’s model respect, gratitude, and proper etiquette so they can enjoy the hobby and learn valuable life skills along the way. Together, we can create a positive and nurturing environment for everyone involved. By doing so, we not only enhance their experience but also preserve the integrity and joy of the hobby for future generations.


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