If you're upvoting this question and are capable of also voting to reopen it, please consider doing so. It has received four votes to reopen before edits, as well as multiple upvotes since it was put on hold, which tells me that not everyone agrees with the decision.
The reason I believe the question should be reopened is because the reason for putting it on hold, that responses would be "primarily opinion-based," shifts responsibility for the responses to the OP in a way that the OP can neither anticipate nor do anything about.
The trope that I'm asking about is not new and it appears in multiple cultures and media; but while literary traditions exist for responders to cite, there is nothing I can do to compel responders to do so. Responses can be extrapolated from the social sciences regarding how different people and different societies and cultures relate to gifted children, both currently and historically; again, I can't compel anyone to cite that research.
Finally, it seems any question that's not about physical geography is open to opinion. Several recent examples could be
To paraphrase TCAT117 in the last question, these types of questions are not about hard sciences. Any of them could be answered solely with opinions. But beyond asking for citations, there's nothing the OP's can do about it.
While I tried to ask my question in a fun, lighthearted manner, I know there are literary, historical, and cultural sides to it that I would never find on my own. The areas involved are too broad for that.
Two more votes are needed. I would appreciate seeing the responses those votes would enable. Thank you.
So, a little backstory:
I'm working on a world with similar elemental races similar to the Genasi in D&D, or the Oreads/Ifrits/Sylphs/Undines of Pathfinder. There are several "rules" that I've made for the race, since they're inherently magic.
They're not just people with an "affinity" for one element or another. They're basically element-based sorcerers.
Although they can be of any race, their elemental powers are "recessive" - it's not always genetically determined, but it takes the right combination of parents' genes, or just the right magical circumstances in combination with one parent's recessive gene, for the Elemental to have powers. This makes Elemental infants relatively rare. Averaged over a century, you would expect no more than 2%, and no less than 1%, of children born in a given year to be Elementals.
Since they're magic, like Elves, Elementals' lifespans are more like Elves' lifespans - say 500 years at least.
Now, something that's always bothered me about Elves is that they usually age at the same rate as Humans until they hit twenty, and then they just seem to stop aging. Or just never get older than Hugo Weaving playing Elrond at 40. So I started to toy around with that, and Elves in this setting do age linearly...
- ...but I thought that because they could come from any race, "the Elementals age at the same rate as humans (or other baseline race) until age twenty" would make more sense for them.
Then I began thinking about the fact that elementals really don't have Elemental parents to look after them. So that reminded me of an old wives' tale about snakes:
The legend goes that young snakes have not yet learned how to control the amount of venom they inject. They are therefore more dangerous than adult snakes, which will restrict the amount of venom that accompanies a bite.
- So to protect themselves, the Elementals have access to all their powers as soon as they're born - but don't understand this or know exactly how to control them. Please note, this includes not needing food or water to survive and the ability to withstand extreme temperatures. So it's unlikely that an Elemental infant would die of exposure. And, not to be redundant, but if anything tried to hurt them their reflexes would kill it, too. This might create evolutionary pressure for other predatory species not to go anywhere near an Elemental infant, but given how rare these infants are, I don't know if there would be enough of them to create that pressure.
So basically, you have toddlers who can create tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, or firestorms while throwing tantrums... with no understanding of what they're doing.
How would different societies react to this?
Responses that cite references - literary, theological, or from the social sciences - are preferred.
I don't know if this might affect responses or not, but given that they outlive humans by several centuries, as adults Elementals comprise 5% - 10% of the global population.
More references for the snake-y baby myth, if anyone's interested -