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Social(ist) Standards of Sharing

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Social(ist) Standards of Sharing

It seems everyone except me, knows the current social standards for sharing toys. I was oblivious of this new parenting trend, because it’s not how I was raised. But now as a parent, I have observed this scenario over and over:

Child-A is playing with a toy. 

Child-B wants the toy, which Child-A has. 

Parent says, “Child-A, you have been playing with that toy for 10 minutes, it’s Child-B’s turn now. Please share with your friend.”

Or (if Child-A is playing with 2 toys) the parent says, “Child-A, you have 2 toys, please give 1 of them to Child-B.”

The parent expects Child-A to share the toy, and if they refuse, than Child-A is being selfish and deserves a “time-out.” But I think the opposite is true.

If Child-A was one of my daughters, and Child-B wanted to take her toy, I would say, “She’s playing with that toy right now, go find something else to play with.” If Child-B continued to demand the toy, I would think Child-B was selfish and say, “No, you can’t take other people’s toys! Here’s something else you can play with.” (unless we were at Child-B’s house, and the toy actually belonged to Child-B, but then Monkey usually understands the toy is not hers).

If Monkey was playing with a toy and an adult said to her, “Child-B wants that toy, can you please share with him?” Monkey would most likely say, “no thank you,” and continue playing with the toy, completely oblivious of the adult’s expectations. While I may be embarrassed by my child’s inability to share, in her defense: you asked her a question, and she answered it. She doesn’t understand your question was actually a demand with an expectation of obedient compliance.

But think about for a minute, how does this view of “sharing” translate into the real world of adults?

You have 2 cars, but I have none, so your mom said you have to give me one of your cars. Granted, I only get to use it for 10 minutes, before my turn is over and I have to share your car with my neighbor. After that it’s his friend’s turn. After 15 people use your car, it’s your turn again. You thought your car, was yours, but it turns out you don’t actually have any say in who gets to use your possessions. Hopefully it’s a used car, and not one you just bought brand new!

The idea that if one kid has 2 toys they should give 1 of them to your kid, is rather socialist and is NOT Biblical. Yes, the Bible does say “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none” (Luke 3:11). However, the Bible does NOT say, “if you have no toy, go demand someone give you their toy,” nor does it say, “if you see someone who has no toys, go find a kid who has 2 toys and force him to hand over one of his toys.” I’m pretty sure the verse is saying: if YOU see someone who has no toy, it is YOUR responsibility to give a toy to the poor kid. You can’t just go take someone else’s toy to give to the kid, because that is more like the story of David & Bathsheba.

Forced sharing teaches kids, they have no say in who gets to use their personal possessions, and I completely disagree with that idea. Instead of forcing kids to share, you can model sharing, by finding a toy and handing it to the poor kid who has none. You could even make a big deal about it, “Look how happy he is! That was so nice of me to share with him!”

Disclaimer: If friends come over to our house, I do expect Monkey to share her toys. In the perfect world, I would actually remember to coach Monkey ahead of time, and also ask, “are there any favorite toys you do NOT want to share?” If so, we would put those toys up, and no one would get to play with them. Instead, I usually just hide any toys which could get broken, or cause a fight.

Becky is wife to Duane, mama to "Monkey-girl" and baby "Lioness" aka "PipSqueek." She is the administrative powerhouse for YWAM Bend and keeps our team grounded and organized. Her hope is to inspire and encourage other mamas in their journey to raise healthy, thriving families.
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