Thursday, April 02, 2015

9 Reasons I *Will* Make My Kids Share

Over on Scary Mommy, I read an article entitled 9 Reasons Why I Won't Make My Kids Share.

I was pretty interested in reading the author's thoughts. I still have things to learn, and am open to new ideas about this whole parenting experiment.

But I have to tell you, I found her reasoning largely unconvincing and somewhat shortsighted. I understood some of where she was coming from, but felt like she painted an incomplete portrait of childhood and life in general.

At one point she likens sharing to having a barista tell you, an adult, to give your laptop to someone else to play with.


I think it's much more like when I go to the gym and jump on the treadmill. If there is someone waiting, I need to limit my time on that treadmill to 20 minutes. Sure, I could be a total jackass and stay on, and screw all of those other people. But I'm not.

And I'd rather my kids weren't either.

So, I thought I'd answer the post.

Here are my 9 Reasons I Will Make My Kids Share:

1. Because playing with toys is not like baking a cake. Toys in our house are often communal property, since buying one for every child would be prohibitively expensive. It's fair that they shouldn't be allowed to monopolize something that other people would like a turn with.

2. Because they're not the center of the universe. With the exception of the computer, my kids rarely get sucked into an activity that someone then wants. What happens far more often is that child 2 goes to play with something that has been abandoned by child 1, and child 1 upon realizing that said toy is now desired by someone else, now has to have it back. Because now it's the best toy ever.

I would really like them to understand that they're not always going to get what they want.

3. Because teaching them to share isn't throwing them under the bus. It's parenting them. I hope my kids love playing with toys that expand their imagination, and encourage their creativity. But I also want them to be able to consider the feelings of others.

4. Because it's normal. We absolutely do share as adults. I share my food, my home, my car, my bed, my bathroom (though my husband might argue that I monopolize it), and so much more with the crazy people who live in my house, and that dude I promised to spend my life with.

Yes, we share. From gym equipment, to taking turns at the checkout counter, to zipper merging on the freeway, sharing is a vital life skill.

5. Because I am interested in fair. The world is not fair, and it won't be. But they can be. We can try our best. It can be a value we strive for. Because we recognize when it isn't fair, and I don't want my children just to accept injustice as a fact of life. I want my children to always work to correct it.

6. Because teaching them to take turns and share, gives me the opportunity to teach about choices and consequences. If you choose to take something without asking, or if you choose not to let someone have a turn with something special that they'd like to play with, there are logical and natural consequences.

If you grab it out of someone's hands, that's rude, and you don't get it at all. If you are refusing to take turns and share with someone, then later, when you want them to share with you, they won't want to.

7. Because sharing and taking turns can actually help them learn vital negotiation skills and set boundaries. This isn't bullshit, either. I have watched my kids negotiate how long they will have with a given item, and work it out between them, only coming to me to set a timer for them. That is a beautiful thing.

8. Because while they might still learn to cooperate, sharing isn't always about cooperation, per se. It can be, but sometimes it's just about seeing that everyone has a chance, and that everyone's needs are met.

Besides, these little lessons, are good practice for later, when they really don't want to get off the treadmill at the gym. Or you know, go to school.

9. Because I definitely want to create nicer people. I believe that sometimes kids have to learn that the answer is "no" and that they can't have it right now. But sharing isn't about taking away from one and giving to another.  It's about making sure they both get a chance to play with something.

It's about teaching them that sometimes they have to wait, and sometimes they have to stop.  Because taking turns and sharing requires both of those things. And while it might require a little more work than just throwing one's hands up and saying that sharing isn't important at all, I think it's worth it.

There are different ways to look at everything. And I don't have all the answers. But thank you for considering my perspective. And if you like it, please consider clicking the banner below to register a vote for my blog. It takes just a second, and you can do it every day. You're the best.
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  1. I had similar thoughts about that article. I think the author's comparisons were stretched. Your points are spot on.

  2. Thanks! I'll admit, I was annoyed reading it, which is almost always what makes me write response posts.

  3. Brandon MontgomeryApril 9, 2015 at 8:08 AM

    I like this post. This is especially important in the early years when personality traits are more malleable. Selfish adults are born, they are made, just as readily as kind-hearted and giving people.


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