Learning to share is an important lesson for children. After all, there are umpteen children's books on sharing. But how often do you teach them not to share? Sounds wrong? Don't be so sure.
Over on the r/ChoosingBeggars subreddit, a user submitted a Facebook post from a mother about her son sharing.
The post begins:
"As soon as we walked in the park, Carson was approached by at least 6 boys, all at once demanding that he share his transformer, Minecraft figure, and truck. He was visibly overwhelmed and clutched them to his chest as the boys reached for them. He looked at me."
""You can tell them no, Carson," I said. "Just say no. You don't have to say anything else.""
"Of course, as soon as he said no, the boys ran to tattle to me that he was not sharing. I said, "He doesn't have to share with you. He said no. If he wants to share, he will.""
It's understandable why a child wouldn't want to share with strangers, right?
And what did the 6 CB boys share in return? Sharing isn't a one-way thing.
I teach my kids to share with their friends and siblings. Strangers? Who's to say that kid won't run off with it?
I was about to write a very similar comment, but yes, exactly. If those other kids were to run off with his stuff, he would never trust anyone ever again.
I don't see the problem here. My child ISN'T obligated to share his personal possessions with strangers.
There isn't a child alive who should feel comfortable giving their toys over when several strangers just walk up and demand them. It really felt like these kids were used to this kind of thing.
If your kids are just demanding toys from strangers, it might be best to have a talk with them.This moves beyond sharing to something else.
The mother continues:
"That got me some dirty looks from other parents. Here is the thing though:"
"If I, an adult, walked into the park eating a sandwich, am I required to share my sandwich with strangers in the park? No!"
"Would any well-mannered adult, a stranger, reach out to help themselves to my sandwich, and get huffy if I pulled it away? No again."
"So really, while you're giving me dirty looks, presumably thinking my son and I are rude, whose manners are lacking here? The person reluctant to give his 3 toys away to 6 strangers, or the 6 strangers demanding to be given something that doesn't belong to them, even when the owner is obviously uncomfortable?"
I mean, she has a point.
I have ALWAYS said this to me friends about kids
As adults. We aren't expected to share our food. Our income. Our cars. Our house
So why do we teach kids they have to share everything?!?
You realize the parents probably behave the same way in real life. Those kids didn't just learn to think they are entitled to someone else's toys. They learned that mentality from their parents.
People say sharing is caring, but you can't exactly cut a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air in two and give one half to your friend and expect both of y'all to drive smoothly
This is why the lesson on sharing is so important. Yes, it's important to share, especially when it's communal toys like at school, or among family. However, when it isn't, it should be by choice.
That said, there is a little bit of vilifying of sharing in this Reddit post. While effort is made to try and assure you some kinds of sharing is important, it's drowned out in the rest of the message.
If a child feels uncomfortable sharing their toys, their feelings are valid and should be listened to. But understanding why sharing is important and how that can affect their friendships with others is important too.
The post ends saying:
"The goal is to teach our children how to function as adults. While I do know some adults who clearly never learned how to share as children, I know far more who don't know how to say no to people, or how to set boundaries, or how to practice self-care. Myself included."
"In any case, Carson only brought the toys to share with my friend's little girl, who we were meeting at the park. He only didn't want to share with the greedy boys because he was excited to surprise her with them."
"The next time your snowflake runs to you, upset that another child isn't sharing, please remember that we don't live in a world where it's conducive to give up everything you have to anyone just because they said so, and I'm not going to teach my kid that that's the way it works"
Sharing is an important skill for any child to learn. As this mother has shown, not sharing is equally important. The trick is teaching them to know the difference. (For some guidance in this area, check out Heather Shumaker's parenting guide on It's OK Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids.