There’s a message I’ve been hearing lately telling moms they shouldn’t force their kids to share. The idea behind it is that it’s actually teaching kids to be push-overs and in competition with each other. As much as I’ve tried to understand the philosophy behind this “no-share” movement, I don’t get it. I have two kids and they share pretty much everything.
Maybe it’s because my kids are close in age or because money is tight at home, but they’ve shared almost everything since they were babies. I’m talking toys, a room, and sometimes even meals at restaurants. I have wondered before if I am somehow damaging them. Is it bad that they don’t have many things that are only their own? Will they resent me or each other in the future?
My hope, and my hunch, is that there won’t be any lingering resentments. My kids love each other and are best friends. According to Dr. Liz Matheis, a child psychologist, “siblings are our first friends” and if they wish to share toys, a bedroom, or anything else within reason, we should not discourage it. “Based on the literature, our relationship with our siblings is where we develop our first friendships, love, negotiating, compromising, and problem-solving skills.”
I can’t help but think that this trend of giving kids full autonomy is a very American idea. Is it absolutely necessary that they each have their own room? Do I really have to buy two sets of the same toys all the time? And hey, some of those kids meals at restaurants are actually pretty large!
My children will learn from each other how to treat future friends. I want them to be the kind of people who are giving and unselfish. I don’t expect them to be push-overs, but I would like it if they would stop to think of others before themselves. Maybe that’s what this world needs. Maybe if we can teach the coming generations to be kind, loving, and share what they have, then this world can be a better place.
Right now my kids aren’t complaining about sharing a room or anything else. That gives me hope that they are growing up in a nurturing and loving environment. That gives me hope that they are understanding that we don’t need two of everything to get along, we can share the one thing we have and it can be enough.
Someday my children will want more space, and that’s fine. I don’t expect them to share everything forever. Even now, they do have certain possessions that they’re not expected to share. After all, my oldest is a boy and my youngest is a girl. Sometimes their interests don’t cross over. But hopefully the values of giving and loving people will not leave them. Hopefully they won’t hesitate to share a sandwich with someone who is hungry, or a coat with someone who is cold. And hopefully they will be there for each other always. Siblings are our first friends, and hopefully they are our forever friends.