I have been a bit lax this week, my apologies. We had a host of visitors and while it was good to share Baby with them, we are now looking forward to enjoying the weekend, just the three of us. On that note....
Most parents' list of 'big things' to teach their children contains something like the following: love, support, self-confidence..... and, particularly in the past, sharing.
At least most Western societies' 'codes of conduct' entailed it being the 'done thing' to let others partake in your joy, be it through dinner invitations, parties, gifts, or letting others play with your toys. Most children my age - let's just say it is beyond the 20s - would have been taught that sharing is the polite thing to do and that if another child wants the toy you are playing it, it is expected of you to let the other child have it. Personally, at least in Europe, I think this had a lot to do with parenting methods popular post-WW II, which continued to have a strong hold on parents until the 70s and 80s, maybe even longer, and focused on childrens' obedience and sub-ordinance to particularly their parents', but also others' wishes. 'Not now, the grown-ups are speaking!', 'Keep it down!' and 'Children should be heard, not seen!' being popular sayings of the time.
Children were taught to sub-ordinate their needs to most anyone else's in other to gain praise and appreciation, maybe even some sort of friendship from them. Children who did not freely hand-over a toy they were playing with to another child desiring it were either told themselves they were rude, or a similar message was passed on to a nearby parent. 'I guess you have not taught your child to share!' If you look closely at most situations were these words are or were uttered, it is usually pretty easy to spot that either the child desiring the toy will, once having received it, not turn around and share it with another child wanting it, or there are in fact plenty of other toys available to play with, which the disgusted parent has not bothered pointing out their offspring.
My parents taught me to share my toys, only to discover that the children in our apartment complex's playground proceeded to take away all my things, leaving my disgruntled parents to teach myself and my sister that we did not need to always let others have what we were playing with. And why should it be ok for a child to wander up to another and take away a toy the latter is enjoying? Is is desirable to teach our children that envy - at the base, that is what it is - is an acceptable motivation for removing something from someone else's possession? That it is ok to take someone else's item rather than earning one's own?
I am not saying our children should go around hoarding all they own or have managed to get their hands on first, keeping anyone else from having anything, but at the same time, why is it ok to demand something another is enjoying purely because one wants it too? Even worse, why should it be ok for other parents to expect and demand of one's own child to bend to their offspring's interests?
After all, it is not ok for me to take my colleague's lunch, phone or car purely because I want it. Conversely, I do not expect to be forced to share all my belongings, feelings and experiences with others purely because they want them, require some sympathy or need a pick-me-up. Dinner parties held only out of a feeling of obligation are my idea of a nightmare.
Particularly as parents, who have a multitude of new experiences raining in on them, some of which can really sap your energy, it is important to fully enjoy the positive things life throws at us, and maybe even be a bit self-centered when safe-guarding one's own happiness, whatever may have caused it. I am fully convinced of Juul Jesper's saying: 'Happy parents, happy children.'
Who can deny that it is nice to have something special to hold close, be it good news, a new gadget, a new relationship? As nice as it is to tell friends and family about one's joy and happiness, isn't it everyone's right to enjoy the glow for as long as they need to before letting the rest of the world know? No one can bring that moment of simple and private enjoyment back, so if a quiet moment to yourself is what you need, I say 'Take it!' It is my conviction that happiness shares itself around anyway, so why should anyone be forced to do so?
Similarly our children should be allowed to defend their moments of fun and happiness. When we first went to play groups, I automatically told Baby to share, frequently faced with Moms responding 'That's ok really, He had it first.' And you know what? Thinking about it, I agree with them. There are so many things in the world, why should someone be allowed to take away the one item that he is having fun with just because his enjoyment sparked their desire?
On that note: I vote for more egoist parents and children in safe-guarding what is theirs to enjoy!
PS: In diesem Post geht es um das altbekannte Thema: Muß mein Kind alles teilen?