Sharing. A single word that supposedly means we’re a nice person. I’m going to say it, because I’ve been thinking it for a very long time. Sharing is a huge lie we tell our children! It’s the same lie our parents told us when we were kids.
I’m not talking about the charitable aspect of sharing. That’s not a lie. We need to share our money, things, talents to help those in need. What I’m talking about is the sharing that is about letting other people use our stuff.
My brother and I didn’t have a lot of toys but we had plenty. And while most would clearly fit gender stereotypes there were those toys and games that belonged to both of us. Those things we had to share. Not hoard or hide or covet, but share.
And even better we were supposed to let other people play with our toys. Most of the time these were friends, but every once in awhile someone would come over to visit and bring their kid and we’d have to let this new kid use our things.
It was in college when I conceptualized this sharing lie. Because sharing only applies to kids. Adults rarely share. And it was when I moved away to college that I fully realized the gravity of this lie that is perpetuated on kids from a very early age.
Once I was in college, I didn’t have to share. Nope! My stuff was my stuff. Roommate? Let her get her own hair spray. And, don’t touch my hotplate or microwave or boom box. *insert crazy girl head waggle*
Grown ups don’t share. When was the last time you let your friend use your car? Would you really allow your BFF to use your Coach bag or your gemstone cocktail ring? Uh, no way! We don’t share our “toys”.
“Dude, let me borrow your iPod?” Don’t think so! Not unless your friend is running the Ironman and theirs broke while being chased down on their last training by wild boars. And even then, probably not because I don’t know about you but I don’t want my iPod being eaten by wild boars.
Sharing is the one thing that we as adults tell kids, but don’t often demonstrate. Sure we may loan our neighbor the edger or the mower. But the entire time they have it we’re mumbling under our breath about how they better not break it or use all the gas or whatever it is that they could possible do to them. We don’t do it with the generous spirit we ask of our children.
Just think about loaning books. Thank goodness for the Kindle! Now we don’t have to let our friends borrow our books any more. Because they keep them too long or the bend the binding or fold the pages. They’re touching our book and it makes us uncomfortable. But now, a-ha! We get to say “Sorry, I only have it on Kindle.” (insert fake smile)
While I say this with a bit of humor, it’s very real. Adults don’t share. That’s not to say we’re not kind or generous or helpful. I am a very giving person. But I’m not loaning out my purse, my car, my phone, my iPod, my noise-canceling headphones.
Yet, every day, parents across the country and around the world are asking their children to let other kids use their belongings. We ask our kids to do something we, ourselves, aren’t all that willing to do. Like I said, this isn’t about the generosity or charitable giving part.
Sharing is a very important concept because it teaches kids many lessons. I’m not here to say we shouldn’t teach kids about sharing. I just find it to be an interesting sociological phenomenon that sharing in adulthood is very different than that of childhood.
What do you think about adults sharing. Are we setting good examples? Or is it just one of those things that is different for adults?
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