Today I was inspired to write about “sharing” through a post I read on Smockity Frocks’ blog. The question is: should children be forced to share?
I should start off telling you that I am an only child and I rarely had to share a darn thing. I never had to learn to get along and never had to share a room, let alone a toy. At school I did lend or give items to so called friends, but it was solely out of a hope of returned friendship that rarely came. So now you know my bias. I was not trained to share, forced to share, and my heart for sharing was twisted.
With my own children it perplexes me when I see them share or give away their possession to their friends. I worry that they do this for the same reasons I did, out of a sense of desperation for friends. Upon closer examination I see that they just have a right heart. They share because they see a need, either a physical or heart need of another person, and they use what God has given them to address that need. It brings them great joy and happiness. God has taught me much through my children.
Do I force them to share: occasionally. They seem to have issues sharing with their siblings, but in general they are quite generous. I tend to focus on the justness of sharing. Is this a communal item? If so, you must share equally among those who wish to use this item. If not, and you don’t want it played with, it should be in your room. Was it in your room? No. Were you playing with it? No. Then let so-in-so play with this item then put it back in your room.
I recognize that by telling them to not bring out things they don’t want to share is just feeding greed, and specifically, turning them into hoarders, so I try to follow that up with a statement about how it is good to share and that God wants us to share what he has given us and that it is there choice to follow God’s will or not.
But, see, again, my heart is all twisted up about this. I hide things away I don’t want to share. I have not fully learned the lesson that all I have is God’s and that he will provide for all my needs. I have no reason to hide things away. Not only will he provide for my needs, he will provide for other’s needs through me.
So, do I force my children? No. I don’t force them. I just set rules about sharing that usually indulge our greedy natures, but I cannot bring myself to force them to share everything. We are set free by grace to follow Christ or not. If I enslave them to my morality, or my stinking attempt to be moral, is it still moral? It is a fine tight rope that we walk in raising our children to be bound by the law or freed by grace.
Lord, help me to not be a greedy, selfish, hoarder who hides Your blessings away for my own personal gain. Help me to teach my children Your ways, not my own. Help me to be freely generous and hospitable with all the blessings you have bestowed on me so that I may bring glory to You, the Creator and Giver of Life.