A few months ago this story was a popular thing to share amongst moms on Facebook (and I am only now getting around to writing about it). The article is about why this mom isn’t teaching her kid to share. The first time I read it, I got swept up in her argument and at the end thought, “you’re right, we don’t want our kids to feel ‘entitled’ and not be able to cope with disappointment.”
Then later in the day after I had asked my 3 year old and 1 year old to share for the twentieth time, I realized a few important things that have compelled me to write this blog in defense of sharing.
My first realization is that sharing is practical. I realized that the author’s son is at the current time an only child. It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t want more children, can’t have any, or will have more in the future. She only has one child right now. I have two of the playing age. If they do not share, they will steal toys from each other and scream until I lose my mind. It brings so much joy and peace to me and to our home when they are playing together and taking turns sharing.
I guarantee, if you DO NOT teach your kids to share, you kids will have NO friends. Who wants to be friends with someone who only thinks about themselves all the time? Who wants to play with someone who wont invite others to play along? This is not entitlement as the author suggests. What IS entitlement is hogging the toy all day long simply because you got there first. A swing or a car on the playground is not yours any more than the next kids. You just got there first.
My second realization is that sharing teaches virtue. They learn to be generous; to think of others; to be selfless and sacrificial. These virtues will go a long way when they are older- when they fall in love, get married, and have kids of their own. When they donate time and money to charities and people in need. This is my goal as a parent: to raise my kids to be virtuous, and so I need to teach them to share.
Certainly there are not hard and fast rules that make sharing work every time. There are different cases and sometimes a child is allowed to play with a toy without sharing. But if Lily has two balls and shares one with Timothy, everyone wins. When there is only one toy involved that they both want, we usually set a timer, and in the words of Daniel tiger, “I can take a turn, and then you get it back. You can take a turn, and then I get it back.” And it seems to work. And sometimes after 5 minutes they forget they even wanted the toy and learn to find something else to occupy them. This, my friends, is teaching them to cope with disappointment. Not teaching them to share at all is the real disappointment here.