“You Don’t HAVE to Share”

Posted by : Brian | On : December 31, 2013

My kids are right in the middle of that stage where they have similar toys, games, stuffed animals, etc.. and always want what the other kid has. This is the “no, I haven’t played with that toy in 3 years, but now that is in your hand, I want it” mentality.

Of course we don’t want to teach our children selfishness, so I guess the right thing to do is to force them to share their toys with the other child. Unfortunately, parents often fail to realize that the child wanting the toy is just as selfish, if not more selfish, than the child that is keeping the toy to herself.

What are we really teaching when we force our children (be it in the home or in the classroom) to share?

To the “unsharer,” it teaches:

1. Hold on to your belongings as tightly as you can until an authority figure tells you otherwise, then begrudgingly give them up.

2. You don’t need to act out of the kindness of your heart, you need to act when others tell you to act.

3. No need to have compassion for others. That is the authority’s job.

To the “wanter,” it teaches: (If this were twitter – #occupywallstreet)

1. You should have what others have.

2.┬áIf you’re loud enough – or ask sweetly enough (depending on the parent/teacher) – an authority figure will take from others to give you what you want.

I don’t want my children to learn this. Too many people learn this model as children and it correlates to how they act as adults. Those that have less believe that they can vote to have an authority force those more well off to give them what they want. Those that have more believe that if they have to give of what they have, they should wait until the tax man comes and begrudgingly give it up. Any moral responsibility for others is gone.

I don’t want to raise my children to think that way.

I want my children to think in such a way that they are content with what they have and are happy for those who have more. I want my children to think in such a way that they have the privilege as a Christian, an American citizen, and a fellow human being to willfully and happily give to others.

So girls, you don’t HAVE to share, but it would be nice if you did.

This usually – not always- but usually ends with one sharing with the other. Both remain happy and the sharer has learned and experienced the old adage “sharing is caring.”

Comments (3)

  1. joshW said on 02-01-2014

    Excellent post. Teach the heart, train the hands.

  2. Lou K said on 27-01-2014

    That’s a hard one to teach. I don’t think that’s necessarily the best occasion to teach selflessness in the child, but it is an excellent way to measure it. For us it was bath time. We would double up the kids for baths when they were young. When it was time to get them out we’d ask who wants out first. If one wanted out we got them out (never happened) if they volunteered their sister we explained how the first will be last and the last will be first and pulled that one out. I’m not sure if that worked any better at teaching selflessness, but it did teach thinking of yourself first wouldn’t be rewarded by us. I still think the best way to teach selflessness is by example. How long it takes to get that is directly proportional to your spiritual growth because it is a sin issue, not a bad habit.

  3. Lou K said on 27-01-2014

    Good post by the way…

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