Sharing is not Intuitive

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

October 20, 2010


Categories: Family, Parenting

MSU Old Botony

When I attended MSU, there was a "Butterfly Garden" behind this building. I had French in the building to the east. It was a 15-minute walk from my dorm, which I did twice a day, three times a week, generally by msyelf. I didn't even share walking! Image via Wikipedia

Levi, you have to share. LEVI, you have to share. Levi, please give a toy to the little girl. Levi, if you and Elliott cannot share, the toy is going to go away. You have to SHARE.

Sharing. Sometimes, a several times a day lesson. Sharing. Something that as adults we still struggle with. Sharing. Something we try to impart onto our children with barely a grasp of how to it when we’re grown.

This whole concept of sharing never ceases to amaze me, as a parent. I never thought much of it as a young adult except that we create rules to order sharing. For example, when I was a college freshman at Michigan State University, we had a roommate who created a bathroom schedule based on class schedules. She did this in the first day we were suite-mates. Little did she think of was when people skip classes, or in general life intervening to mess up this order. After about two weeks (maybe less time) the bathroom schedule was useless and we had to go back to knocking and asking questions (non-violent communication would have been helpful here!). We had trouble, as adults, sharing the bathroom. 5 women in one suite with varied classes, study styles, party styles, etc – and we couldn’t communicate our needs to use a schedule or not use one. We couldn’t share.

My husband and I own one gifted (that is free) television. We also own a few computers. One, I paid for several years ago. The other, the laptop, was paid for cheap then swapped for a better working model. We also purchased an eMac a few months ago, cheap, from Free Geek, a local non-profit that educates, reuses, resells, and rebuilds computers and their parts. Why do we have three computers in this house of three? Because we can’t share. My husband needs to look up his tools while I need to do food club stuff and check my email. We’ll even let Levi play with the computer, but he has a tendency to explore by deleting our settings, so it’s easier to not share and let him use this eMac.

We set an example, as adults, of separate toys, separate rooms for use, separate this and that. It’s no wonder, when we get our kids together, they too have a hard time sharing.

I think I get it now. Most parents will probably say, “Duh,” if they were to hear my realization – but sharing is not intuitive. We have to be taught, and continue to learn that lesson – to share. I used to believe we are innately good, and now I even question that. We are innately selfish, because we have to be. We have to cry when we’re hungry, tired, or need to be changed. We simply pass this pattern onto perceived needs, like playing with a particular toy. We have to learn to use our words through repetition and discipline. And, maybe, if we’re fortunate/lucky/disciplined, whatever, we’ll realize as adults that sharing isn’t so bad after-all.

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