I'm thinking of roughly Tolkien-style elves. Immortal, numinous, "better than you and we both know it so I won't mention it", and, most importantly, extremely infertile. Centuries go by without any elf births.

So ... what happens when little Uatdi'el is born? Is she swamped with a bevy of slobbering, adoring aunties and uncles from day one? I imagine the entire community would be wrapped around her finger, and they can deny her nothing. I'm talking quinceñera and sweet-sixteen party here.

Naturally (I'm guessing) a child raised under such conditions would be spoiled like last week's pork. Haughty, annoying, utterly expecting to get her way at all times. Kind of sounds like ... elves. ;D

I suppose my real question here is, from what we know of elves, would their social/emotional dynamics work enough like ours that they'd have the spoiled children problem? It might be that in order to survive so many centuries they've become extremely "zen", almost spaced-out, living entirely in the now, and might barely pay attention to the child until she "becomes interesting".

Edit: Hmm ... It's been argued that this question is not ... worldbuildy enough. I suppose, though permit me to differ: the idea here is to develop a psychological profile of elves and their home-life, so that we can add incidental depth when viewpoint characters visit an elf village. If we posit that elves are wise enough to not spoil the children, visitors will see the (few) children gamboling about in smocks peacefully and happily. If elflets are spoiled monsters, their antics will disrupt the peace of the village and thoroughly embarrass the elves (as well as providing some interesting scenes when they try to manipulate/wheedle the non-elves!). If they are neglected and ignored until they become wise, there could be a whole Mad Max subculture of vicious elf-children acting out, setting fires, taking potshots at visitors.

Anyhoo, please do un-hold the question if it please the Council.

  • $\begingroup$ But elves, being "better than you". would be wise enough not to spoil their children, no? Even some humans reach that level of wisdom :-) $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 5:08
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'd say this was always about worldbuilding, but it's too opinion-based. What do we know about elves? We know what Tolkien described in his works, but I'm sure there are more cultures in his world than what he shared. Society and culture are highly varied things; just create the one that suits your story. Voting to leave closed, since I would just vote to close it again anyway. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 0:31

1 Answer 1


I'd go the opposite way. The child is as immortal as her parents, but mentally unformed. She will grow up in the community and live in it beside her parents, grandparents, and everybody else forever.

An immortal race would not think about generations the same as us; if my child in 25 years is going to be my neighbor for 10,000 years, like I have been neighbors with my own parents, grandparents, and practically every ancestor for 10,000 years, I will devote 100% of the next 25 years ensuring she becomes an upstanding citizen that pulls her weight and socializes perfectly.

Now is the time to form that mind while it is malleable, to ensure she is not spoiled, entitled, egotistical or anything else.

Their perspective has to be geared to the long term. They will not see offspring the same way, because in their world, 99.9999999% of their life they and their parents are peers. This is seldom true for humans; our parents are generally 20 years ahead of us and that is always a significant amount in a 75 year life. Not so for immortals; their children will "catch up" to them and perhaps even surpass them in wisdom, life experience, education, wealth, responsibility and more. What we see as a persistent gap between us and our parents will fade away to nothing: Bob is 5025 and his son is 5000, is his son still supposed to defer to him? I don't think so.

I don't think spoiled children will be a problem, elven children need to be raised with social skills that will last them forever.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ you bring up some interesting notions. I do hope you're right. That said, it may be that elves take the long-view to the point that they figure most problems sort themselves out, given time. I will admit, I am secretly hoping for some kind of dysfunction in elf society, as that will (a) "humanize" them a bit from being too perfect, and (b) allow some drama when humans visit their village. [Side-note: Tolkien did this well when Elrond saw Aragorn's courting of his daughter as essentially attempted murder!] $\endgroup$
    – akaioi
    Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 23:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ One dysfunction might be conservatism that leads to an underground elven movement. Elves have a potentially unlimited lifespan; but can be killed. Suppose on average they live 5000 years. What would our lives be like if ancient Romans, Huns, Vikings and more still lived amongst us? If we lived among people that accepted slavery, women as property that could be sold? Social progress would be very difficult to make if we all typically lived 5000 years, and some are 20,000 years old, even if the birth rate is glacially slow. Very slowly growing underground rebellion might be a thing. $\endgroup$
    – Amadeus
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 9:57

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .