"Have fun" should not be a rule

A lot of summer camps, youth groups, and other activities have a “have fun” rule.

The implied message is usually: This is a fun place. If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong. Fix your attitude and have fun doing the fun activities.

Sometimes “have fun” rules are explicit. Sometimes they’re more implicit, and come in forms like: making people sing a song every day about how much they love camp, announcements about “we’re all having so much fun!”, or whatever else.

The problem with this is: nothing is fun for everyone. People have the right to feel how they feel about things. It’s really degrading to tell an unhappy person that they should just feel some other way.

“Have fun” rules are especially problematic for many disabled people.

Because — most programs are not fully accessible, even when they think they are. Most of us expect to encounter activities that are inaccessible in ways that make participation impossible — or that make them no fun.

And often, initially fun activities are ruined when someone treats you in a degrading way or says something awful about disability.

Being left out when everyone else is having fun is bad enough. When there’s a “have fun” rule, it’s even worse. Not only are you hurt by the exclusion, you’re told that you’re violating the rules by being hurt and unhappy.

“Have fun” rules make it really hard to solve these problems, because they make it risky to admit that you’re not having a good time.

“Have fun” rules make problems harder to solve, even when the problem has a straightforward solution. All the more so when the problem is complicated. (Or only has a partial solution.)

“Have fun” rules actually make things a lot less fun.

The basic problem with social skills education

Human interaction is really, really complicated.

No one understands it all the way.

Almost every rule has major exceptions. Anything stated in a clear way is going to be oversimplified in some way. 

There aren’t rules so much as cultures and traditions that everyone finds their own way to work with.

The most anyone can really say most of the time is “this is sort of how it works a lot of the time” or, “this is probably going to be the case for almost everyone, if not absolutely everyone”. It’s hard to be honest about that, especially when you’re talking about an extremely important area of interaction like physical boundaries.

In addition, people will tell you all kinds of things they wish were true. One example is how people will teach kids “tell an adult” even in situations in which adults are unlikely to care about bullying. Or “tell them it hurts your feelings” because they want that to work.

Writing this blog, I understand more and more why people do things like that. It’s hard not to. But, it’s important. Everything is more complicated than I’m describing; even when I’m mostly right. (And sometimes I’m not.)

I’m saying things that I think are true, as well as I can describe them. But, don’t just believe me. And, particularly, if you think it’s more complicated than I think it is, don’t assume that I’m right and you’re wrong.

tl;dr Social skills are skills, and they’re complicated and to a large extent different for everyone. All descriptions, and especially all rules, are approximations are best.



after a recent serious incident in my social circle I’ve gotten more proactive abt calling out minor consent issues b4 they escalate. I’ve noticed treating it like something rly obvious is quite effective - ppl take “u broke a social…

mellopetitone said:

I think that “I don’t like being licked” is individual while “You know it’s rude to lick people, right?” is more broad, talking about patterns of behavior and expectations of behavior. The second one has the added effect of an implied assumption that you are someone who thinks it’s rude and don’t want to be licked. This isn’t as effective as “I don’t like X.” when the behavior objected to is generally accepted.

realsocialskills said:

That makes a lot of sense.

College tips and tricks for undergrads, from an undergrad:



This is just a short list of some things I didn’t know about college until a friend who already had a Bachelors degree told me were possible. Let me tell you, they will get you out of a lot of binds, and help you graduate not only on time, but early!

  • just because they say a class is full doesn’t necessarily mean it’s full. Many classes leave a couple of spots reserved for various purposes, or they set a seat limit of 28 for a classroom that can hold 30. Particularly if it’s a 100-level class, ask the department before you give up on a closed class, or ask the professor. Some schools only require special permission from the professor to overload a class, some don’t, find out which yours is.
  • continuously check the site that lists your classes if you’re trying to get into a closed class. School ended for me at the end of May. I waited on a class I’d been trying to get into that closed out very fast, and just last week, it opened up and I got a spot, all of 2 weeks before school starts. You never know when someone will drop a class, and you could be the person to catch their spot.
  • if you feel you know the information for a class that claims you need a certain pre-requisite, ask the professor of the class if it’s possible for you to take it as a co-requisite/test out of the class. For example, in my school there was a beginner level class that required calculus as a pre-requisite. I was only in pre-calculus, meaning I would need to wait a semester to take the class and I’d end up behind if I just used my school’s site. I just asked the professor and he admitted that he had no idea why calculus was a requirement since the class involved 0 calculus, and let me (and many others in). This semester, I’m taking 2 classes I don’t have pre-requisites for because my grades were good enough that they trust I’ll still do well without them. Sometimes pre-requisites are just to delay you and are irrelevant to the class, and you can shorten your time by asking the department or the professor of the class.
  • lastly, if you’re in good academic standing, some schools allow you to take up to 24 credits in a single semester. My school doesn’t charge for extra credits, yours might, make sure you know. It does require that a student be in good academic standing to take up to 21 credits, and a student with special permission from the scheduling office can take 24. (You are going to want to have good grades already and not be taking any classes you think you need to worry about.)

Hope that helps!

^ the above, cosigned by someone who has a degree without ever passing algebra.



Not precisely a boundary violation, but boundary related — it’s always helped me when therapists are willing to outline exactly what their legal responsibilities are. For example: when they are required to contact medical personnel. This makes it easier to discuss certain topics without worrying about medical interference.
That makes a lot of sense.
I don’t know how much what they say matches what they do, though. Do you know?

well, i’ve seen psychologists on and off since I was a kid and was even studying to be one so i can say with absolute certainty there is a very strict code of ethics psychs are expected to abide by. I can also say with absolute certainty that this high standard in practice virtually never happens in reality and I haven’t met a single person who *hasn’t* had a psychologist breach confidentiality with such severity that if it was reported they could lose their license to practice. 

I don’t know where the real lines are. But I do know they’re not where everyone says they are.

I’ve never had a therapist break confidentiality, but I know several people who have, and their therapists are still practicing. The existence of widely cited rules does not, in itself, cause those rules to be followed. Rules aren’t magic.

And then there’s the thing where, it’s not breaking confidentiality exactly, but they make helping you contingent on you agreeing to let them discuss things with someone else. (eg: a disability support professional, your medical doctor, a parent, etc).

All communities have predators

No place is inherently safe; every space ends up having predatory people in it.

Well-run communities/organizations/schools/whatever have things in place for dealing with this. And, from time to time, abusers hurt people, and the communities actually use the things they have in place for dealing with abuse.

And they will be able to tell you what those things are.

And if the community has been around for a years, they will be able to tell you about instances in which that has happened. (In general terms; they don’t have to (and usually shouldn’t) reveal identifying details).

If a school or business or something gives a training on harassment, and they can’t tell you what’s happened in the past when abuse has happened, and they only say “we take that very seriously”, it’s a major red flag.

If a community/school/whatever tells you that abuse can’t happen there because of how great people are, or how much training there is, or anything like that – that’s an even bigger red flag.

The safest communities are those that recognize that no space is safe all the time, and that it’s always necessary to be on the lookout for abuse.