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Don't make your kids share

Posted By Patrice Lewis On 11/30/2012 @ 7:46 pm In Commentary,Opinion | No Comments

One day a wise friend was arbitrating a dispute between two of her young children. It seems one child had claimed the property of another child for his own and refused to relinquish it. A quarrel ensued when the other child wanted her toy back.

My friend’s first instinct was, as she put it, to “enforce mandated sharing” and require the older sister to share with her younger brother. After all, what higher calling is there for a small child than to learn to share his or her toys?

But the undeniable fact was the toy belonged exclusively to one child, not the other. “Then it hit me,” noted my friend. “In forcing a child to share against her wishes, I was grooming future socialists to take what they wanted by force and coercion. They would have no concept of personal property rights, and would view all property as something to take at will or expect to be granted rights to, just because they wanted it. This, I could not have.”

My friend is right. Possessions should not be shared against someone’s wishes. To force someone to do so is little more than theft. My property is MY property, not YOUR property. You have no claim to it. You didn’t earn it, pay for it, maintain it, improve it, insure it, or otherwise do anything except covet it.

We all possess certain things we cherish and won’t lend to others. In my case, I won’t loan out my pressure canner. That expensive but easily damaged tool has preserved thousands of jars of food for my family over the last 20 years, and I don’t trust anyone else to treat it with the same level of care I give it. Why should they? No one else has the same financial or even emotional commitment to take care of it.

This doesn’t mean I won’t take my pressure canner to someone else’s kitchen and share the knowledge and workload of canning up some vegetables. I adore sharing my knowledge of canning – absolutely adore it – but just because I’m willing to share my time and energy does not mean I’m willing to relinquish my pressure canner. It’s MY canner. Not yours.

You may feel the same way about your computer. Or your car. Or your iPad. Or your Rolex. We all have items we won’t loan out to even the most cherished of friends for the simple reason that we instinctively know the other person won’t have the same level of commitment to the possession that we do.

Now, let’s say that it’s not a friend who wants to borrow my canner – it’s a perfect stranger. Not only does he want to borrow my canner, he demands to borrow my canner. And he may not give it back, either. Does that sound fair?

Of course not.

And that’s where we stand today in America. We are all being forced to share, against our will, with strangers.

Of course, no one wants me to share my pressure canner. What they really want my husband and I to “share” is our money. It doesn’t matter that we don’t have a lot of it. It doesn’t matter that we have other plans for it (our daughter needs braces, we’re paying off the barn). It doesn’t matter that my husband and I work very hard for our money. It doesn’t matter. We are mandated (forced) to “share” because the nanny state has so much more compassion for everyone else than it does for us.

But the nanny state begins in the nursery where we force our children to share against their wishes. What seems “fair” to one child by giving him a toy he covets is manifestly unfair to the other child whose toy was taken. But no one cares about the child whose toy was stolen. Instead, we praise him for his involuntary “compassion.” And this kind of mandated sharing is promoted all through childhood and reinforced in school.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that when children reach young adulthood, they see nothing wrong with forcing someone else to share his possessions (usually money) with them. They “occupy” public places to force others to “share” what they themselves can’t be bothered to earn. When these people demand “free” this and “more” of that, what they’re demanding is the government hold a gun to someone’s head and liberate him of his money, which is then funneled through an incredibly inefficient system of redistribution. Share share share. Can you feel the love?

The trouble with forced “sharing” is that the recipient is never as concerned about the care of the shared item as the owner. If I work hard and save my money and finally purchase the pressure canner I’ve always wanted, I will take great care of that item. But if I share my pressure canner with someone else who has nothing invested in it, what do they care if they drop it or bang it around or use it incorrectly? It’s not their canner, after all.

When our girls were young, we also faced the small domestic crises of kids who didn’t want to share. We always made it clear to the girls that they didn’t have to share, but then the other child didn’t have to share either. In short, while there might be short-term satisfaction in not having to share one’s toys, there could be long-term repercussions for being selfish. Nonetheless, we left the decision up to them. It was their choice.

And in this regard, adults can take heed as well. Sure, I could be a selfish witch and never share my pressure canner with anyone. Nor could I share my knowledge and love of canning. I could keep it all to myself. Nyah nyah nyah.

But that kind of attitude could come back to me in spades. If I’m so selfish that I won’t teach my neighbor to can, she has the right to be equally selfish in not teaching me to sew. If I’m so selfish that I won’t (voluntarily) share our money with those who need a helping hand, how can I expect a helping hand when I need it?

It’s a case, literally, of what goes around comes around. Choosing not to share can be ugly, yes; but it’s voluntary. Forced sharing is not a choice – it’s theft.

Is it any wonder, with generations of children who have been forced to “share” against their wishes, that as adults they have no respect for private property and have an entitlement mentality?

So please, don’t make your kids share. Model sharing for them. Encourage them to share. Tell them the benefits of sharing. But the moment you force them to share, you become a socialist.

And we wouldn’t want that, would we?


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