Sharing Is Caring, You Stingy Little Jerk

*struggles into too-tight ranty-pants*

I just read this article:

Why I Don’t Make My Son Share.”

And, y’know, honestly, I’m torn.

On the one hand, I get what’s going on here — and I agree that sharing as a blanket concept is one with some notable holes in the fabric. Sure enough, if my kid is playing at the playground or in the parking lot of a strip club and he has a Matchbox car he’s vrooming around, just because some other little shitbird or some parking lot hobo wants to play with it isn’t reason enough to give it up. Sharing is not a religious tenet — consent is a concept that is learned early, and if a kid says, “No, you cannot play with my Go-Bot, motherfucker,” then that has to be respected. You don’t just get to paw at things you want because you want them.

On the other hand, we try to teach little B-Dub to share — within reason. Because while sharing as a concept is a flawed one, most concepts are flawed and pretty much all of life’s lessons are possessed of a spectrum of nuance (and we know how well toddlers do with nuance!). I mean, it’s one thing if my kid has his own toy he doesn’t want to share. But if he’s bogarting a slide or has sprawled out in the McDonald’s ball-pit like he’s Baron Harkkonen or some shit, y’know, he has to let public objects be shared amongst other children. The slide at the playground isn’t a seat at the movie theater. He didn’t pay for it and stake claim to it — it’s a thing that exists for the public good. If I don’t step in, he’ll run that slide all day long, continuing a perpetual motion loop that freezes out any other kid who tries to get near it. Their eyebrows will be blasted off by the speed with which he continues to lap the slide again and again and again and again.

And it’s times like these I realize that lessons learned in childhood are lessons that could carry on through adulthood. This isn’t just playground bullshit. This is life stuff.

Recently, I’ve seen a fresh spate of Stupid Assholes on Facebook (they should really be their own tribe at this point — the SAoF!) say things like: “I’m an old man, why should I have to pay for some lady’s maternity care!” Or, “I don’t have kids, why should I pay school tax!” Well, uhh, let’s see, you selfish fuck-swab, maybe it’s because that’s not how this stuff works. You have to pay for that woman’s maternity care same as her insurance covers your boner pills so you can stick it to sassy Margie McGovern in the retirement home break room. You pay to keep schools up because — oh, for shit’s sake, do I really have to explain this? Because we want to live in a smart country, not a dumb one. Because our taxes go toward community support, and it isn’t an individual savings account geared toward the things you think you deserve. I pay for roads I don’t drive on because — oh, I dunno, YAY ROADS. Taxes aren’t about You. Taxes are about Us.

So, then I wonder: were these people taught not to share? Were they allowed to cleave to that most toddlerian of impulses — the near-feral ME, MINE, WANT, DON’T TOUCH, MINE, MINE, MINE?

Then, on the other hand —

People who download books and movies and TV shows and all kinds of things they didn’t buy. They, too, have that precept of MINE MINE MINE, but the original lesson could’ve gone the other way — they believe in wide open sharing, that what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours and sharing is caring which means give me that newest Game of Thrones episode or I’m going to upload web-cam pics of your naked mother to 4Chan.

And then I wonder: how much does this tie into one’s idea of personal liberty? I’m Murrican just like the rest of you — I bleed Heinz Ketchup and gunpowder, too, folks. The problem is when people extend that personal liberty to be something they deserve even when it inhibits the liberty of others. That’s where things get fucky. And again I wonder: does all this start in childhood? Does one’s rampant selfishness start there (almost certainly) and stay because of what happens at that age (could be, rabbit, could be) –?

I don’t have any good answers here. I’m just shouting about stuff.

What I do know, however, is this:

What you teach your kids matters. And what you teach your kids is better when it isn’t some black and white convention — because much as we’d like life to be THIS WAY or THAT WAY, it almost never is. Everything is on a spectrum. All things, given to nuance, and in the process, gravitate toward the middle of things. Maybe if we build into our kids a sense of “it’s a little bit this, a little bit that” — creating in them a clear sense that not everything is simple — then we won’t end up with the festering dungbucket that is the current state of the Internet, where everybody takes an entrenched MY WAY OR THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY position and digs their heels in so hard the horse they’re riding buckles, farts, and dies. Maybe if we teach them about give-and-take, and sharing (when it’s appropriate), and consent, and the complex vagaries of existing on this little blue-green planetary marble we call home.

Then again, maybe I’m a crummy parent. Who knows?

Oh, the other thing I know is:

The worst thing about other children is the parents of other children.

Seriously, Other Parents, if your kid is being a little jizz-stain, I blame you, not him, except one day he’s gonna be out there on his own and you won’t be around anymore and when he’s all-growed-up as an “adult” (note the sarcastic air quotes), the blame will fall to him by proxy, so maybe pay attention to your kids, don’t let them be little assholes.

Whitney Houston said, I believe that children are our future.

That could be a hopeful promise.

Or, knowing some kids out there, it could be a damning threat.

*rips off ranty-pants, flings the into the trees, runs into the woods*


  • If there was one thing I learned from my father, who was mostly a POS, it was that regardless of how badly I fucked up, he would always still accept me.

    Kids these days … I don’t know. I have two teenage girls, and they are saints, of course, but I have no idea where the hell they learned it, because I was an absolute mess at their age.

  • June 19, 2014 at 10:54 PM // Reply

    I have many, many not-so-fond memories of the tyranny of sharing. I was the oldest of four, so it was easiest to make me be the big girl and “share” whatever my little brother and sisters wanted. I was the meekest, most easily bullied kid in the entire kindergarten, so it was usually me who has to “share” when other kids got loud and stompy and pouty. So that article really hit home for me, because as a very young child, “sharing” to me meant “giving away your things because a louder, angrier kid is throwing a fit and mommy is tired right now and teacher has thirty other kids to worry about.” I don’t think I ever played with the nice toys, because even at six years old being a nice girl meant giving everyone whatever they wanted the moment they wanted it. It didn’t teach me how to share, it taught me how to be a doormat for louder, angrier people.

    I learned how to share just fine, eventually. But it wasn’t by having my toys taken away every time some other kid demanded them.

    So I guess it’s different for every individual child, as these things often are. I’m sure there are children out there with a more selfish temperament who might benefit from learning the concept of shared property. I’m equally sure there are a lot of mild-tempered, meek and overly nice children who would benefit much more from learning how to stand up for themselves and saying no.

    There’s no blanket solution that works for every kid. “All children should/are/can…” is just as reductive as any other generalization. They’re all individuals, they all benefit from an approach tailored to their needs and temperament.

    • Thank you for sharing this! As someone who was always the smallest, quietest girl in every class, I can relate.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Clementine!

      Sharing can’t be treated like a blanket concept, because the “sharing” that usually gets imposed on children doesn’t mean shared rights of property over a toy; it’s not a true compromise. It’s a zero sum game.

      True sharing would be if both kids played with that toy at the same time. That’s a valuable lesson to be taught. Not giving up one’s toy or interrupting one’s play because someone else must heed his needs at one’s cost.

      I am against teaching kids to “share” whatever they have when someone else asks for it. And I’m against teaching kids that they have a right to ask for something someone else has. That’s basically teaching them that infringing on other people’s rights is ok.

      I will teach my daughter to peacefully play together with other kids, but not to take posession of their toys or relinquish posession of her own toys when others demand it.

      • June 20, 2014 at 9:36 AM // Reply

        I was lucky enough to spend a few months as a teacher’s assistant in a Steiner school (not sure what they’re called in English. Waldorf schools?) and I was really fascinated by the fact that the children didn’t really have what you’d consider toys in their classrooms and play areas. There’s a lot of theory and philosophy behind it, but the basic idea is that mass manufactured toys as we know them (dolls, cars, teddy bears and so on) actually inhibit creative play to some extent. A car is a car. There’s not much the child can do with it except drive it around. Many children are very creative and turn the car into a UFO or build elaborate sand tracks for it or make up entire stories about who is driving the car where, because children are amazing an wonderful, but at the end of the day it is still one item with one main function.

        But a stick, for example, could be anything at all. It could be a sword, the mast of a ship, a witch’s broomstick, a horse, a tree, anything they can come up with. And I have noticed that when the personal fantasy attached to the object becomes more important than the object itself, it changes the way children play. For example, if a child has decided that an old sheet is now their royal cloak, then the fantasy of being a monarch is much more powerful than the object that triggered it, and it’s much easier to get other children involved. (A monarch needs a court, after all, and a knight to go defeat the dragon and so on.) They’re sharing in the fantasy of play even if they’re not sharing the object. And that sort of creative and constructive play is much, much easier to trigger if the object at the heart of it is perceived to be of no value.

        It’s why I don’t particularly like toys, and especially not the marketing machine surrounding them. Having grown up in the early 90s and doing a lot of research into the destructive and manipulative influence marketing has on children, I’ve got some well-founded reasons for that. Watch any toy commercial and you’ll notice that it always gives you a very restrictive lists of ways to play with the toy. You can do THIS, THIS and THAT with this toy. The end. Children learn by mimicry. They’ll want to imitate the commercial and restrict their own play, and others’ play, based on what they’ve been told their truck, doll or play set can and can’t do. But the vast majority of children have all the innate tools they need to engage in creative play without the aid of objects and pre-fab fantasies. It’s how all mammals are socialized and explore the world around them. Toys can be wonderful things, I still have some cherished ones of my own, but when it comes to constructive play that helps the child learn and explore and grow sodium channels in their squishy little brain, most are actually better off without them. Depending on the child, of course. Always depending on the individual child. Many also need a little kickstart to get their imagination going, and a toy can certainly provide that. But I do feel we’ve given the objects themselves a LOT more importance than they deserve.

        Which is a very roundabout way of saying that marketing and commercials teach children that toys are status symbols, which is where the problem with “sharing” comes in. Have this expensive plastic thing and be the envy of all your friends! The imaginary value of the toy rises exponentially the more it is marketed as being desirable. It’s one of the reasons gendered toy commercials (that’s all of them) are so damaging. It puts the object and the (gender) roles attached to it front and center instead of what should be the focus of play: imagination and the fantasies the child wants to create.

        Eh, that got a little stream-of-consciousness there. But it’s something I feel quite strongly about.

    • I was a meek child as well and often forced into the same scenario you just described. I often wonder why parents are so quick to teach the concept of sharing, at all costs, but not the concept that it is rude to ask somebody to give you something (although toddlers don’t usually “ask”). It is the more polite thing to wait until somebody offers you something freely, not to guilt them into giving it up by making them feel selfish because you won’t give up your possession as soon as they ask.

    • Oh, I SO know what you mean, Clementine! I ‘lost’ so many toys as a little kid once my baby sister came along, because the minute she decided she wanted them they were immediately ‘passed down’ to her because I was “told old for that now anyway.” (Mind you, that also applied to all my old clothes I’d grown out of as well, so swings and roundabouts, as they say… 😉 ) And yeah, I was the timid little mouse type as well. Took me until well into my thirties to turn THAT around…

      I think you’re right; it really does depend on the temperament of the individual child as to whether ‘sharing’ is the lesson that needs to be learned, or ‘not being browbeaten by the kids who aren’t interested in sharing.’

      (And as a parent who was once a timid child, I’d REALLY like a course on how to deal with other people’s kids in situations like that! ‘Cause saying anything that sounds even remotely like you’re telling off another parent’s child is a whole other world of awkward…)

  • Do not run into the woods without pants. You will get thorns in your nutsack and then we will have to listen to you rant and imagine you with this festering infected thorny nutsack (which autocorrect really, really wants to be two words) and nobody wants that at 11PM Eastern. And yeah, most parents are douchenozzles. So the only parenting advice this non-parent has for parents is this – try to raise your kid not to be a douchenozzle.

  • Ha! Great subject Chuck.
    I understand what you are saying about sharing. My kids are 22 and 24 and grew up witth the purple dinosaur. I remember my brother visited once and they were battling it out over a transformer or a cool new toy and I ignored them as they duked it out.He was horrified. There were times when they needed to figure it out on their own. I couldn’t always play peacemaker and make them share everything. I don’t want to share everything. They turned out to be very generous and intelligent people
    As far as those idiots who want to pick and choose where their tax dollars go, there have always been selfish idiots and irritating people in the world. That’s why there’s an “Unfollow” button on Facebook!

  • I have twins. Because we do not wish to purchase two of EVERY ITEM IN THE KNOWN WORLD, we have to enforce sharing at times. Will it make them better people? I don’t know. Will it teach them to be neo-hippie collectivist dweebs? PERHAPS. Will it insulate them from being neo-Randian objectivist commissars of selfishness? UNLIKELY. And since we DON’T make them share stuffed animals, does it mean that the mini-mansion has enough storage space? HA HA HA.

    Parent your own kids and don’t worry about how other people parent theirs, unless it helps you in some way.

  • Dear dog, am I first? Whatever.

    I think of this as a question at least partly of manners – stay with me here. One often hears manners alternatively lauded as some magical set of rules that made the world a fabulous place or (on the other hand) a restrictive set of PC nonsense made up by people who want to keep other people in their proper place.

    But I once heard manners described as a concern for other people’s feelings and dignity. Or, more succinctly, a concern for other people. I like that. It doesn’t mean that you can’t swear, if that’s how you roll, but it does mean that you might want to keep a lid on it around great-aunt Gert and her friends from church, who are genuinely offended by that kind of language. Not because you don’t have freedom, but because you respect theirs to have tea with you without having to turn off their hearing aids.

    Likewise, it doesn’t mean you can’t tell risque jokes, but you might want to save them for spaces where they are expected and people are in the mood and have the agency to give as good as they get, as opposed to, say, a work meeting, where there is only one woman in the room and you are setting her up not only to be made uncomfortable and possibly scared but also, putting her in an impossible position. If she objects, she’s a humorless cunt and if she doesn’t she is giving tacit permission for you to do it again.

    And with toddlers (or adults), it doesn’t mean that they don’t have any rights, to things or spaces, but teaching them that they are not the only person with rights. And that compromise, negotiation and if necessary mediation (otherwise known as appealing to the grown-ups to act like grown-ups and negotiate for you) is a reasonable way for reasonable people to be in a community where everyone gets what they need and at least some of what they want. It’s really not rocket science.

      • Thanks, Jane. It is a touchy subject because, too often, as other here have said, ‘sharing’ is code for ‘you have to give it up immediately if anyone else asks or demands it’ and that isn’t right, any more than hogging something is. And it’s a terrible, terrible lesson about the nature of agency and consent. But being respectful of yourself as a person with rights and dignity and other people as equal in both – not superior or inferior – is a lesson that can be challenging in the moment (especially in the prime tantrum years) but powerful in the long term.

    • That is an EXCELLENT way of putting it. And one that I wish could get through to all the people who get antsy about how their freedom of speech is supposedly being violated any time anyone tries to suggest to them that they might, just possibly, want to consider being less of a dick to other people.

    • A concern for the personal feelings and dignity of others? What a novel idea. I couldn’t agree with you more, Imelda. I think that teaching children that they have rights, and that others also have rights – to possessions, to freedom, to happiness – is really the key lesson.

      I also agree with the poster that said that people should teach their kids not to be giant jerks. But I think that’s basically the same lesson, so I’d say most people commenting here have the idea.

      • Yes, Adan, not being a jerk – seems simple enough, eh? 😉 Although, having had a toddler, some things that seem simple in theory can be a challenge in the teaching… thanks for the reply. I wish I could remember where I first read that thing about manners being a concern for others, because I did find it profound, simple and helpful. 🙂

        • Definitely easier said than done. My son with Asperger’s is a perfect example. We work with him every day, but empathy doesn’t come easy to him, so we’ll still occasionally catch him kicking a dog or confused and angry because he’s made to wait his turn. But I can’t stress enough that every day is a new opportunity to teach our kids to be decent, even if we’ve made mistakes or not gotten through to them in the past. I have found that being mindful of my own behavior has done a world of good.

  • Trying to impart the subtleties of sharing and not sharing and such to a couple of toddlers is hair-tearingly mind-boggling. Especially when they’re both only children (son & nephew). But I agree that it’s pretty important. I can never forget that the most lasting impressions on a persons psyche and personality are made in early childhood, by the child’s caretakers.

    I’m all about Plan Longview. Train up the next generation to be better people than we their parents, and to want to make the world better so they train the next generation and so on. Eventually, the world (or intergalactic generation ship or whatever) might be a nicer place for my grand-children and great-grandchildren and their friends.

  • There is a big difference between teaching your kids to share and teaching them to give up everything the instant another person asks. And I think learning to share…to consider the feelings and needs of others…is an important lesson at every age, regardless of whether we are discussing communal items (slides and roads) or personal ones (people with great wealth vs. those in poverty).

    If kids are never expected to share, then what they take away from that is that their needs/wants/wishes are paramount to those of all others. The kids whose parents ask you to have your child share are very likely also being taught, by those same parents, how to share. Their kids are learning give and take, the non-sharing kid is not.

    And, by the way, sharing isn’t a “punishment” on the kid who temporarily allows another to play with his stuff. When done well, sharing actually makes the person doing the sharing feel as good as the person who is the recipient of the kindness (much like the joy one feels when giving a gift to another).

    And that’s the bottom line. Learning to share is essentially learning about kindness. It is intended to be a reciprocal skill, not a one-sided proposition.

    That school that “holds a toy” away from the class while little Johnny goes to pee is teaching little Johnny that he gets what he wants whenever he wants it. That is NOT the kind of lesson I’d want my kids to learn (I wouldn’t want them to think it is okay to restrict others from playing with something when they cannot even play with it, nor would I want them to be forbidden from enjoying something when another kid is unable to enjoy it but unwilling to allow anyone else to do so). That is serious BS, in my opinion.

    I’d argue the opposite of the Pop Sugar author. The rising sense of entitlement we see is borne from a generation being taught they should never have to share, NOT from kids being taught to take turns.

    • Agree completely. My kids are 5 and 6. They “share” lots of toys (meaning I don’t buy the same thing for each of them). When one child gets a toy (that they select/purchase with money they’ve earned/gotten in their Happy Meal), they reserve the right to play with it, without sharing, for about an hour, and after that, it becomes give and take. What I think (hope) I’m teaching my kids is that you don’t get everything you want all the time (because in life, you don’t), and that you’re being kind and big-hearted when you do let someone else play with something you have. Sometimes, if it’s a highly coveted item, I have to break out the timer: 30 minutes for you, then switch.

      It also becomes a power play when a child can say no all the time (I see this with my older son towards my youngest and it bugs the crap out of me). Do they really want to play with the toy, or do they just like the feeling they get by squashing on the hopes/wants of another kid? I want my children to be compassionate adults, and that sometimes means doing things that they don’t necessarily like, but makes another person feel good.

      Sharing isn’t just about giving a toy away, either. It’s also about dividing the burden of responsibilities. There are four people living in our house and I don’t want to be the only one doing all the work around here. That breeds resentment. Offering to share a responsibility tells the other person, “Hey, I care about you and want to help you.”

      IMHO, not sharing can manifest into massive greediness and selfishness. I won’t donate to a homeless shelter because I don’t want to “share” my money. I won’t share a seat on the bus because I was here first. Sharing is about giving of yourself and it’s something this world needs a bit more of.

  • I am a big fan of personal property – like Clementine above I have rather unpleasant memories of having to share my stuff with my younger siblings who would almost immediately break/stain/lose/smash it, the rotten little shits – so I can totally get behind not making a kid share their own personal toys and such. However, there’s a lot to be said for taking turns with public stuff (like slides and red ride around cars). There it becomes about manners and fairness, both good lessons to learn. As is having things that are yours and yours alone. So I vote for the middle ground! (Yay fence-straddling Moderates! 😉 )

  • Toddlers, by nature of their brain development, lack empathy. They can’t ask themselves, “Now how would I feel if this happened to me?” This is why we teach toddlers it’s important to share — so that by the time they develop that sense of empathy they will understand what to do about it.

    Toddlers exhibit selfish behavior because they’re self-centered. It’s the nature of the beast at that age. We spend a few years trying to convince them they aren’t the bright center to the universe so that when they’re older they’ll understand that we share this planet with several other billion people, none of whom are the universe’s center either.

    Do I make my toddler share? I usually try to encourage him that sharing is the nice thing to do. It doesn’t always work, but I don’t let him monopolize a communal toy or slide. But that’s because I have a sense of empathy and I wouldn’t want some other parent letting their kid monopolize a toy my son wanted to play on. Its the Golden Rule, and it was one of the first things I remember my mother trying to teach me. Treat others the way you want to be treated. So simple.

    • Actually, there are a whole bunch of studies showing that toddlers do indeed have empathy — even newborns may. The one that struck me (and that Goggle can’t find at this hour of the morning) was something about toddlers who saw another distressed toddler and would try to take the distressed one to their own mothers — which can be seen as the ultimate ins haring (or maybe just the most obvious solution). It’s a tricky balance, teaching kids to stand up for themselves while retaining that empathy.

      And God yes, other children’s parents are the worst part of raising kids. The sense of entitlement some of them have — “Your kids has a nice toy. Make him share.” It took me a while to learn that the correct response is, “My angel doesn’t like to share it. We got it at Target. You should get one. And meanwhile, why don’t you go play on the slide? Make that brat give your brat a turn.”

      • Lyra, I should clarify: Toddlers can exhibit certain empathetic behaviors, especially seeming to understand distress, but it’s not a well-developed sense at this age and they tend not to be able to extrapolate that to subtler examples (like thinking, “If it was me wanting the toy, I would want him to share.”) Empathy seems to develop over a 5-6 year period, and isn’t consistent. One moment a child is hugging another crying child, the next he’s kicking the dog. It takes a few years for the concept to “gel” in little ones, but your point is taken!

        You’re so right — it’s a very tricky balance! I think “encouraging” sharing is much more valuable than forcing your child to share. I did wonder about the preschool in the linked article. Is that an Ayn Rand Daycare or what?

        • It isn’t so much they don’t have empathy as they don’t understand the converse of sharing yet. As a parent I’m asking my son to give something up, to him that means “forever” until he learns he’ll get the toy back, and also get a chance to play with the other kid’s toy(s). Getting kids just developing object permanence to understand that intangible concepts like ownership also have a kind of permanence takes A LOT of time and patience.

  • Lots of issues here: politics, capitalism, and greed. Bottom line, sharing is better than not almost every time. Too much friendliness and compassion is a dangerous thing for society said no one ever.

    Also, if your kid is acting like Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, watch the fuck out. And if he has a friend named Piter, you should probably leave him at McDonald’s and just keep on driving, cause a plot is fuckin’ brewin’.

  • I am an only child. Because of this “unfortunate life choice of my parents” my Grandmother forced me to share my special stuffed friend– Lisa, the dog– with my younger cousin, K. Lisa and I did everything, to include recover from chicken pox, together.

    And I had to share her. Did my cousin have to reciprocate by sharing Zippy the Monkey? No. It’s been 34 years and it still drives me to an indignant fury to remember watching her play with my Precious while Her Precious mocked me from a safe distance on the couch.

    That’s from a child’s perspective and I never, ever force my kids to share their ONE special thing. Not one large box full of many special things. Yes, the little one tried that. Points for creative effort, but nope.

    I don’t share my special things, but I have handed out enough spare snacks to ravening bands of children that goldfish owes me something for free advertising.

    Several years ago while at the park with my then 3 and 1 year old, a mom was hosting a birthday party for her darling baby girl. She planned to include some sort of sand digging scavenger hunt in the giant communal sand box. She’s burying these plastic, I dunno– tears of third world children molded into fairies or something– and my 1 year old is helping her by immediately digging them back up. I’m watching, all covert from the bench– I don’t Go To Park to hover over children, this is about learning independence, yo. But I’m watching this asshat’s rage meter increase steadily upward as my barely-not-an-infant continues to, you know, play in a public area.

    She leaves, comes back with some of those crepe streamer things and– no shit– tries to cordon off a portion of the sand pit, loudly announcing to my kid no, no– this is for Little Ruthie Beth’s special, private party. I’m walking toward her, forming the Bless Your Heart set down of my people, when my 3 year old runs over after his big slide adventure smashing right through her crepe barrier, because, you know, THREE.

    The look of rage on that woman’s face… oh, my. See, her whole pursed lip, eye-rolling, huffed sighs were the entire reason I didn’t bother to redirect my kid when she started roping off the park like it was the Party City version of SVU.

    Often the adult concept of how they should/can treat children just blows me away. They are not small adults– they are children. And hell, half the time they are still more polite.

    • Ah, the joys of other adults! I feel your pain. I suspect that woman probably treats everyone with that level of disdain, adult or child, if she can get away with it. I suspect she wasn’t required to share enough as a child. 😉 As for your special precious, that’s a horrible story! No-one should be forced to share their precious! (unless it’s the One Ring, in which case we make an exception). There has to be mutual respect. I think everyone should be allowed to keep some things just for themselves and what you do have to share should be about equal access not one person being ‘nice’ by bearing all the pain while someone else gets all the benefit. It’s a particularly pernicious lesson for girls, who already tend to be relationship-oriented. People-pleasing without attention to your own needs and rights is a dangerous lesson to internalise.

  • June 20, 2014 at 12:38 AM // Reply

    As an only child and a mother or four, and author of a parenting book (shameless plug) I have lots to say about this subject. I unlike some only children, I loved to share. It meant other kids were actually at my house to play and I didn’t have to play alone. In today’s world, the alone time that I had, is a luxury for kids crammed into daycare. It isn’t so much about sharing, as about ALWAYS sharing. As parents, I don’t think we really are trying to teach sharing. We are trying to teach gratitude and generosity.
    My only child fantasy glasses were broken pretty quickly when my second child came along. I learned that allowing the younger child to play with the older kid’s toys meant things would get broken, and because I urged the sharing, I felt I should buy a new toy because the older kid shouldn’t be punished for sharing. That got expensive. Fast. I had to get another plan.

    In an effort to save some toys from the inevitable “broken” pile, and to keep my sanity and my baby from choking to death on her older sister’s Polly Pockets, we set up some rules about sharing personal toys. First of all, sharing forced is not sharing. Sharing by its very nature is voluntary. Some toys are just too “favored” to be shared. It is okay to put that toy in your room or not share your favorite or new toy. No one should feel badly about NOT sharing. It is a choice, not a mandate. Secondly, be grateful. If someone shares with you it is a gift, not a right. Say thank you and be genuinely grateful. Teach the children to understand that Mary sharing that particular doll, was like you, Lizzie, sharing your favorite horsey, Ratocka. If children understand that feeling, they will feel gratitude. Getting a chance to play with that toy was not a given, it was special.

    We got a unique view on sharing when we brought home our 5 year old son from Russia. He lived in an orphanage where everything was always shared among the little comrades. He shared very well…too well in fact. He took expensive toys to school and “shared” them with kids who took them home and didn’t bring them back. He also brought things home from school on a regular basis. The teachers didn’t call this sharing. They called it stealing. His sisters didn’t appreciate his style of sharing much either although as he got older, he was less interested in their toys.

    We never had an issue with common toys, games for example, were no one child’s in our house and because if two kids played, two kids picked up, that usually went well. Two swings, four kids was another issue. I never told one child to share. I said, “No one swings until you are not fighting. Work it out fairly.” It usually wasn’t fair, but it taught my kids great negotiating skills and I was out of the middle. They also learned to tell time. For video games, they each had their own and quickly learned if they didn’t share, no one would share their video game. Four games were better than one, so sharing occurred pretty naturally and they learned some great negotiating skills.

    I remember a funny negotiation for different Halloween candy: My middle daughter didn’t like peanut butter. “I’ll trade you one peanut butter cup for four Kit Kats.” My son was okay with this. He loved peanut butter. My youngest daughter figured out that if she just waited, my middle daughter would give up the peanut butter cups pretty easily and she got a better deal. Indeed, sharing is a life skill, but only if the parent resists the urge to mandate sharing.

    Parents forget it is not about the toy. It is about the lesson learned. Lessons that are taken into adulthood about broken toys, breeds mistrust in adulthood and a feeling of lack or being either a victim or a bully. In the hassled daycare it is usually the bully that gets the toy. Is it any wonder this fosters fed up victims who bring guns to school? Or bullies who think it is okay to just take what you want? It is important to point out there is always another toy, and if the child waits and does some negotiating, he will get what he wants or something better. Once this is understood, the arguments over toys and clothing (as teenagers) pretty much stops. My kids are not perfect, but they do get along well together…better than most of their friends. They are now teenagers and respect each other’s property. They never assume it is okay to take what is not theirs, but do expect that their sister will share her favorite sweater, if I give her a good enough reason. That is all a parent can really hope for…

    Theresa Lepiane

  • “The worst thing about other children is the parents of other children.”

    YES. A thousand times yes. Also? The #1 duty of any parent is raising a child who does not grow up to be a raging douchecanoe. PERIOD.

  • GRRM was a poor example of a piracy victim considering just how well the whole franchise is doing (or a good example if you were slyly advocating piracy?!). No one involved in GOT needs more money, piracy is not hurting any of them. If anything, the more eyes -> the more pop-cultural presence -> it becomes more of a phenomenon -> moar monies! Part of that series’ piracy issue is HBO and cable company fuckery. So if you want me to feel guilty about piracy, try again.

    You’ve probably heard Neil Gaiman’s argument about piracy. Maybe it’s easy for him to say, having made it and all, but if someone is bothering to pirate your work, they’re a fan, and if they have money they will give it to you eventually.

    But also, people are fucking poor as hell. Art is a luxury item. They were never going to pay for it. Why don’t we discuss the economic realities that lead to piracy? Healthcare fuckery, minimum wage fuckery, student loan fuckery, etc etc!

    Thanks, I love you and your blog. <3

    • This is entirely true and I’m not really all that cranked up about piracy — but the attitudes of some pirates (see some earlier posts at this blog regarding comments I’ve received) still speak to the larger concern of YEAH BUT I WANT IT SO I CAN JUST HAVE IT.

      Piracy is not the epidemic creative folks think it is — but sometimes it’s problematic just the same, and once more, this is a thing with nuance and lots of gray space, not a RIGHT/WRONG situation.

    • Sure, I shouldn’t even engage you but I just want to highlight one point in your “logic.” You say that piracy is okay because people are poor so they shouldn’t have to pay for art, a luxury item. Please, please, please, take that same flawed logic and apply it to other luxury items. Go “pirate” a Mercedes, some jewelry, or high-end electronics, and see how it turns out. Will the judge understand that you really wanted it but were too poor to pay? Why should it be any different for digital or intellectual property? Just because you can’t hold something in your hands doesn’t mean it didn’t have a cost to produce and therefore a value. You know, I’d respect people who pirate a lot more if they’d just stop hiding behind the term piracy and call it what it really is: Stealing. Just say, “I’m a selfish thief who likes to steal stuff that other people have worked very hard to create.” At least we could respect the honesty.

      • To quote the ’70s – Right On! Perfectly put logic! If you don’t mind, I will “pirate” your argument…great thought process.

    • Did you… seriously just suggest that everyone, everywhere in the world, is “fucking poor as hell” and that no one has any money for any luxury items, ever? And therefore no one is ever going to pay for any form of art (so no one should bother creating any, or least attempting to make a living off it)?

      I’m not sure what planet you’ve been living on, but on this one, right here, people (at least in the industrialized west, and at least some of the people in most other places) spend tons of money on luxury items – the ones they can’t pirate. I don’t see Starbucks and other fancy coffee places, clothing designers, car companies, electronics companies, travel agents, breweries, plastic surgeons or any other purveyors of goods that could be considered luxuries going out of business en masse because no one can afford any luxuries… I do, however, see a lot of people complaining about how oh, they just can’t possibly afford to pay for books/music/software/whatever, while sipping a $5 coffee and wearing $200 shoes.

      Now obviously, it’s not always that extreme, and some people really do have a lot less money than others. But I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone, no matter how cash-strapped, who didn’t spend at least some money, sometimes, on “luxuries”. And I’ve known people on welfare and disability, and people who’ve made most of their living from panhandling and were barely a step from homeless. In my punk days, I had friends who were couch-surfing or living four to a tiny rented room, and eating Kraft dinner made with water instead of milk and butter because that was all they had left for food – but they still found money for hair dye, booze, cigarettes, pills and Doc Martins, because they valued those things more than eating decent food or having better living conditions. I’ve known single moms on welfare who were one step from eviction, but still bought toys and video games for their kids because they wanted their kids to be happy and not to be social outcasts at school who didn’t know anything about the things all the other kids liked.

      And while a lot of people look down on anyone who is poor who buys any kind of non-necessities whatsoever, there’s often a good reason why people do buy those things (some of them, anyway) – because no matter how poor you are, having at least some kind of little treat now and then, something that you can just enjoy for a little while, that makes you feel a bit more like a “normal” person, can be what keeps you sane.

      So yes, people can and do spend money on “luxuries”, although obviously how much they have to spend on them varies a lot. But which ones they spend money on comes mainly down to priorities – how important those things are to them – and also how easy, and how socially acceptable, it is to get those things without paying. The nature of electronic media makes any kind of electronic content easy to pirate – there’s no way around that without getting into the hell of DRM, which no one likes. But how socially acceptable it is, and how much value people place on artists’ work, is something that can change, and should.

      That said, I don’t really have any issue with people who genuinely are really struggling financially pirating stuff, as long as they see it as a temporary solution, and not as something they’re automatically entitled to and that anyone else is an idiot for paying for. When I was not-very-successfully self-employed for a number of years, I pirated music like a madwoman – but once I gave that up and got a stable job so that I had a moderate level of disposable income again, I made a spreadsheet of all the music I liked most out of what I’d pirated, and began buying a few of those albums every month, as well as gradually deleting things I’d pirated that I wasn’t all that attached to, with the goal of eventually have a fully-legit music collection again. I never pirated books, but that’s mainly because we have these things called libraries. If libraries didn’t exist, I probably would have, because both reading and music fall into the need-this-to-stay-sane category for me. But if I had, I’d be doing the same thing now with them that I’ve been doing with the music, because I never, at any point, saw pirating stuff as something I was entitled to – just as a temporary ethical compromise due to difficult circumstances.

      So I still get seriously annoyed with people who have a lot more money than I had then – especially if they make more money than I do now – and still pirate everything just because they can. I think in a lot of cases they’re actually decent people and just haven’t really thought the issue through – they see everyone else doing it so much, and treating as normal, that it just becomes the default. And that’s what I think we need to be challenging – the idea that piracy is just automatic and inevitable and not something anyone should spend any time thinking through the ethical consequences of.

      (Sorry, that got really long…!)

      • Sorry, there was an HTML fail in there – the phrase “tons of money on luxury items – the ones they can’t” was not supposed to all be in italics, just the words “tons” and “can’t”. I think I missed a closing tag…

  • You sound like a good dad to me. A lot of people don’t think about this stuff at all, and it’s so important to teach kids to think and care about these kinds of things, even when there isn’t a clear answer.

  • I’ve had to teach my daughter to push the kid out of the way on the slide when he tries to skip the queue. She’s been taught to be gentle etc. but at the same time, she looks helplessly at me when she’s pushed by some bigger jerky kid and expects me to right the wrongs of her playground world. While I have no problem telling said jerky kid to wait his turn, she’s going to have to be more assertive (read ruthless) when she’s alone in a world of these little douchecanoes that so many assholes are raising.

  • For a little context, right now 95 percent of our belongings are sitting in a shipping container and best case scenario is that we will see them sometime in august. As a parent of an almost-four and a 17 month old, this can create stress when they ask for something they know we own but have no way to use. My thoughts on the subject of sharing fall into two basic themes: first, compassion and empathy are important, but being aware of the perspective of others is not the same as being bound to it. When the little one grabs the last cookie, I explain to the big one that he is too young to understand how that makes others feel, but if he sees courtesy from her, he is more likely to be more courteous next time (uphill battle with the three year old mind). Being mindful of others means that if the older one doesn’t want to share on that moment, that is fine, but offer alternatives or start taking turns, don’t just flip the hell out (I’ll let you know if this works out). Second, I try to encourage the kids to remember that no matter how precious something is, it is just stuff. My wife and I have lamented that as important as some of our things are to us, our shipping container could sink to the bottom of the sea and we really would be okay (insurance is a wonderful thing). We encourage our kids to care for things, but that in the end objects are not truly important, they are a means to an end. When my wife’s iPod was stolen from our car, we were annoyed, and we started being more careful about what we leave in it, but it wasn’t the end of the world. We try to instill that in our children. I will admit that we do sometimes say “share everything” but not out of a sense of duty or entitlement, but as a reminder that things are not as critical as the relationships through which the use of things can be fostered. YMMV

  • Hell Chuck, you said it all, parents of other children CAN be the worst! Okay, we’re at a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese’s, granted, one of the children from our gathering acted a jerk and was uncivil to some other little kid, but after being harshly reprimanded by that kid’s parent, the woman continued to glare at the offending girl from our camp and make snide remarks toward her whenever she got within earshot !!

  • “I’m Murrican just like the rest of you….”

    This is why sharing is bad; we let Murrica share our planet, and suddenly otherwise intelligent Murricans start thinking the entire planet is Murrica.

  • June 20, 2014 at 6:37 AM // Reply

    My very first parent teacher conference, (kindergarten) was mortifying. Savanna’s teacher, a woman, told me very sternly that my child “seemed compelled to share” with her classmates. I am a legend to this day for not throttling the vapid bitch.

  • I think the thought that sharing is kindness and concern for others hits home for me…When my kids were younger, we’d always praise them if they chose to share, especially if it was unprompted. We encouraged sharing of some things – not everything, mind – and you could see their little minds thinking through the ulterior motives; if I share with her, she’ll give me some of her sweets/let me read her book/play with his Lego later. But if it didn’t work out that way, then they learnt an important lesson.

    Life ain’t fair, but I don’t think it should stop any of us from doing our bit to make the world a better place. If that means giving and apparently getting nothing back in return, so be it, whether it’s time, money or effort… And if we don’t teach our kids that, we’re going to spiral down into Selfish City until someone breaks the mould again.

  • You’ve pretty much nailed the philosophy of sharing I’ve tried to instill in my kid (currently 6). Sharing is good, but you also have the right to not share at times (when the thing in question is *yours*) and you have the right to expect to be asked nicely to share. Others don’t get to just walk over and take what’s yours by some sharing fiat. And, of course this goes the other way too. You ask to share what others have, you do not take, and sometimes you’re going to be told no. And if it’s not yours or theirs? Like a public slide? Then you all damn well better be sharing.

    A few years back we were home for a visit with my family and my son would occasionally want to take things his older cousin was using and invariably my family would tell my nephew some variation of “You need to share and remember he’s younger and you’re older” and they’d tell me they wanted him to learn that he had to share. I had to step in though and say, “No, that’s not ok. You want your son to learn to share, but I don’t want mine to learn to take or believe he gets everything he wants when he wants just because he wants it and screw everyone else.”

    So far I’m pretty pleased with how my son thinks of sharing nowadays. He generally is a fan and often looks for ways to share, but he mostly gets that he doesn’t have a right to everything and he is also aware that he has the right to make decisions about things that are, in fact, his. He’s not perfect (no one is, obviously, and he’s only 6) but I think he’s getting the values I want him to have and I’m sure that what we give our kids in that department now will ripple out through how they behave in later life.

  • I think the attitude of “wide open sharing” people usually begins in the teen or adult years, and less often in childhood. It starts when they do something they know is wrong or selfish (e.g. download something illegally, parking in a handicap space without a permit, etc.) and don’t face any consequences. The rules start to look like an illusion. They’re only worth adhering to if one is going to get caught and punished. That’s a very toddlerian mentality in itself, but I don’t think it comes from not being taught boundaries as a kid — it comes from not being taught to have a personal moral standard.

  • The article you linked to has a very interesting perspective that, as a non-parent, hadn’t occurred to me before. He does indeed have a good point in there: That kids should learn to respect other people’s things, and that children should be taught that it’s okay to say no, and to protect their personal space. Heck, I wish I’d learned that lesson earlier in life.

    But from the example stories he shares, it seems so easy for this “policy” to go too far. Children DO need to learn how to share–as you so articulately show with your taxes example, it’s a critical foundation to our society. Also to to being a good human being and developing things like empathy, where you care about not just your own satisfaction but also are capable of understanding the feelings of say, that destitute person on the streets, or, why not, the poor kid who just wanted to have a turn on the play car in the wide open public play space.

    Surely there’s a way for a parent to guide a child through life in way that can show them both of these skills. Surely.

  • This is a wonderful way to look at manners. I was raised in the south and “good manners” was a big deal—saying yes and no ma’am/sir is a knee-jerk reaction that I don’t think I’ll ever grow out of. But I think people see/hear “manners” and think Emily Post or Miss Manners and to keep your pinkie out at tea, when what it really boils down to is what you said–“concern for other humans.” I imagine if the SAoF stopped to consider this, they might re-consider their SA-y ways. Great comment.

    • Thanks, Hannah! Saw it anyway! It’s powerful, isn’t it? I wish I could remember where I originally read or heard it, because it has obviously stayed with me. Although, automatic please and thank you and standing up for elders also makes the world a nicer place, so no need to grow out of it, IMHO. 😉

  • June 20, 2014 at 9:39 AM // Reply

    Just wanted to say how much I enjoy your writing style. Every post, even if informative, still entertains. As to the content, agreed. We are teaching our kids, whether consciously or through what they see us do. A couple weeks ago, we were out with the munchkin and some lady comes up after dinner and asks if she can reward our daughter for her good behavior during dinner, said that it was a pleasure to sit at the next table and we are doing a great job. I was torn. Give her money for behaving? Not sure that’s a good idea but reinforcing good behavior is good so I said okay. As to the job we are doing, I said “she came this way.” Which, in part she did. But I started thinking about it later and realized that we do lead her by example and also by gentle correction when she does something I don’t like. What it comes down to is enjoying your kids, paying attention and interacting with them. The last four years have flown by and they will never come again.

  • Wonderful words, Thought Master. I actually LOVE paying my taxes, because I don’t want to clear the roads of snow, fix potholes, put out fires in my neighbors’ houses, catch bad guys with guns, collect the garbage.
    Yup, I LOVE PAYING TAXES FOR REAL. I actually go to the tax office and SMILE at the people as I hand them my check, rather than mail it in. I work for the local public schools, so there’s that salary thing, too…

  • One thing that seems to work well with my kids is this: if they are fighting over a toy/computer game/etc, I tell them that the two of them need to talk about it and find a way of sharing that works for both of them. If they can’t come to an agreement, then neither gets to use it. Most of the time, they are able to calm down and negotiate. I think (hope) they are learning that communication and empathy trump fighting.

    As usual, I agree with your point and love the humor and deftness with which you articulate it.

    • I do this, too. There’s been a few times I’ve had to call them on it and either take the toy away/turn something off, but they’re learning quickly to work it out.

  • My brother handled this really well with his two daughters. My parents had gotten my niece, Adeline, a kids electric piano keyboard for Christmas. She LOVES that thing. Evelyn, her younger sister, wanted to play with it as well. (BTW they were 4 and 5 years old at the time). Adeline said Evelyn could play with it when she was done. Evelyn was okay with this. Later, Adeline set the keyboard down to go play with a different toy. As soon as Evelyn stepped over to her keyboard to start playing with it, Adeline threw a fit and yelled that Evelyn couldn’t play with her keyboard, professing she wasn’t done with it (when clearly she was done with it, at least for the moment). My brother stepped in and told Adeline that she had promised Evelyn she could play with the keyboard. Adeline said she really didn’t want anyone else playing with her keyboard. My brother said “That’s okay because it’s your toy but you need to apologize to Evelyn for promising she could play with it and breaking that promise.” Adeline apologized, they hugged and all was well between the two.

  • Thanks for this brilliant post about the importance of the common good. The childhood playground is a fitting metaphor for the concept that, yeah, you get to own some stuff on earth, but not important shit like a communities’ water supply, and yeah, you have a right to build a factory, but if that factory spews out lung destroying particles–well, obviously you didn’t learn to share and you need to sign up to read terrible minds. Right now.

  • I taught all of my kids to share, but sharing is not the same thing as paying someone else’s way. I really don’t mind paying taxes, but only a damned fool thinks we can’t pay too much in taxes, or that a huge chunk of what we pay doesn’t go to things no sane person would want to fund. And to compare paying taxes with sharing is flat out stupid.

    Whether I should pay for someone’s maternity leave, or whether her insurance should pay for my boner pills, may be debatable, and it’s entirely possible that I should pay for these things. But that is not sharing. It simply isn’t. Don’t tell me I HAVE to do something, and then call it sharing.

    To be sharing, it must be done through choice, not force. No matter how wonderful something is, if you force me to help fund it, that ain’t sharing. Public libraries are a good example. I love public libraries, and even in this electronic day and age, I believe they’re crucial. I love seeing my tax dollars find public libraries. But that still ain’t sharing. Sharing is when I spend a day at the library soliciting funds, when I donate a new computer, or write as healthy a check as I can to the building fund.

    I live in a small city of about 18,000, but we have a public library that’s the envy of many large cities. It has such things as private reading and writing rooms, a coffee/sandwich/snack bar, and even an honest to God auditorium that puts on honest to God plays on a regular basis. It also has enough new computers to make the NSA envious. But it didn’t get this way through tax dollars. Tax dollars barely keep the library alive. Our library is what it is because of patrons who are willing to share time, energy, and money.

    And, actually, sharing most certainly is a religious tenet. One of the most important and oft mentioned in the Bible. But it’s always phrased as “should”, not “must”. If you do not give freely, you are not sharing, and if you are forced to give,m you are not sharing.

  • June 20, 2014 at 12:20 PM // Reply

    Thanks for this thoughtful post, Chuck. I’m not sure if someone has mentioned this yet, but I’d like to bring up a few points from the view of a special needs parent.

    My six-year-old has autism and often behaves in ways that other kids/adults may see as bad/misbehaving. For instance last year we were at a park and he ran by a smaller child, pulled a leaf he was lovingly carrying out of his hands, ripped it and threw it to the ground. I mumbled an “I’m sorry” over my shoulder because I had to keep chasing him before something else happened. Did my son do this because he’s a jerk? No. Did he do it because we haven’t tried to teach him to share or respect others’ boundaries? No. He did it because, as he has moderate autism, ADHD, and significant cognitive delays, he had no idea what he was doing–how it was violating others’ space, how it might have made that kid feel, maybe even that he did it to begin with.

    But the dad in that scenario shouted after us “Nice kid!” in a sarcastic voice. I get why he was angry, I do, but it’s situations like these that leave me with tears in my eyes. Because we try to teach my son boundaries, and sharing, and the like all the time. ALL. THE. TIME.

    What I’m trying to say is this: some of these kids we see on playgrounds that we assume are jerks, or the products of bad parenting, actually have mental health/learning issues going on that make it very difficult for them. Especially for kids with autism, it’s not always apparent to the world what’s going on at first (or second or third) glance. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t try to teach them what’s right, but that we should maybe have a little understanding–the same way I try to acknowledge that adults that are acting like jerks may have crappy things going on in their heads/lives that I’m not privy to. It’s difficult to do, but a worthy goal nonetheless in my opinion.

    As someone with two kids and one that is very atypical I’d also like to suggest that the equation isn’t always as simple as bad parenting > bad kids. It’s an uncomfortable truth that good parents sometimes have kids who grow up to be murderers, and bad parents have kids who turn out amazing.

    Again, not disagreeing with anything you’ve written here on teaching kids to share, just pointing out another perspective. [Pulls off ranty pants and collapses onto couch with container of french fries.]

  • June 20, 2014 at 1:15 PM // Reply

    My feelings on the matter of paying taxes for someone else’s grade school is that someone else’s taxes paid for yours. I just wish people would stop saying childless adults are selfish for their lifestyles and should contribute more in taxes.

  • I recently realized that the kids who are little assholes-in-training in my kids’ classes are the children of the assholes I went to school with. Funny how that works.

    My oldest has been going to preschool with these kids since they were toddlers. It’s hard to see sweet babies turning into what they’re turning into.

  • Re: taxes for schools
    Obviously we need to invest in an intelligent society. But what pisses me off most about when assholes complain is, I’m fairly certain they all went to school. Most of them the same schools their bitching about having to pay for now. So with the exception of the few who went to private school, they can just think of it as repaying their debt to society. And for those who went to private school, they should have learned the worth of an intelligent society in that school and know better.
    Ugh! Sometimes I’m afraid that movie Idiocracy was a prophecy.

  • You hit it right on the thinkbox. Fuck yeah. It’s a tough line to walk this sharing/no-sharing line. My wife and I struggle with the topic with our toddler (especially now that we have an infant in the house), and man. Can’t I just get root access to the little guy’s noggin? It sure would be easier to look up the PID of the Sharing process and halt/re-start it as necessary. I’m sure there’s an app for that.

  • I so agree with you on the notion of taxes. I feel SO irritated when people froth over “MUH tax dollars!”. No, they are not YOURS once they are paid, they are communal. If you WANT a say in how “your” tax dollars are used, vote, participate in govt, be proactive. But don’t be a douche and try to deny other people access to services they NEED because you feel personally burdened by your tax share.

    As for sharing, it’s like you said, shades of gray. My daughter is 7 and her brother is a baby, when he grabs one of her toys, I look at her and say “Are you okay with him playing(ie chewing, drooling, and otherwise mauling) with this toy?” and if she says no I offer him something that’s more appropriate. On the other hand, if she is trying to prevent him from touching ALL the toys, yet playing with them RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM, no, that’s not going to fly. You don’t flaunt your awesome things just to prevent others from using them, that’s a dick move.
    When we go to other kids houses it can be more tricky. I try not to have my kids bring their toys because if they get left behind there is ENDLESS DRAMA. But playing with someone else’s toys means you have to a) Hope they’re reasonable and b) Make sure you aren’t abusing the privilege. If the host says “No, I don’t want that played with, it’s special. You can respect that.”

    And there’s the matter of age difference. The Three year-old is NOT allowed to rip a toy right out of the baby’s hands, but if it TRULY perturbs him to share that toy, he can tell an adult, who will give that toy to him and offer the baby a substitute.

    Ultimately the hardest thing I have to deal with is when my 7yo, a very polite accommodating girl, has to deal with rude little barbarians at the playground who skip lines, push and shove, don’t ask before they take things… Sometimes an adult needs to intervene, and sometimes all you can do is say, “Sorry sweetheart, some people don’t have good manners.” Not everyone will be civilized, not everyone WANTS to be civilized, and most importantly, you can’t tell other people how to act most of the time. You have to learn to coexist.

  • I totally agree that it is the parents of these kids that need a few lessons in basic civility. I recently got cussed out and threatened with physical violence at a playground because I told a little kid that it isn’t nice to punch other kids. The mom was busy on her phone, and apparently could take time away from it to yell at me for daring to correct her child, but could not be bothered with actually watching her children. The fact that she thought it perfectly acceptable to call me a bitch and say she was going to “fuck up my shit” in front of all the kids at the park told me everything I needed to know about her parenting style. I said, wow, that sure is classy” and then walked away. Sometimes it is very difficult to be an adult and set a good example.

  • Shades of grey. So important. It would be bloody brilliant if everything was black and white, right or wrong but it’s not. If you can teach your kids that you are three quarters of the way there I reckon… Probably.



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