Teaching sharing


The following question does not necessarily express the practice of the writer it is only presented as a topic of discussion.

“Why as a society do we tell our children to share their toys, books, crayons when we grow up sharing of that kind is not practiced.”

Is there something wrong in telling our children something that is not the way society works?

I look forward to your replies.

About fiercebuddhist

Welcome. I am happy that our paths have crossed. Here you will find various poems, articles and photography. I hope that you enjoy them and visit often. I am currently working on writing “A Haiku A Day” so that I can, perhaps, have enough good ones for publication. If you are wondering what a “Fierce Buddhist” the following declaration should clarify. The “Fierce” in FierceBuddhist I define as “an obligation to do what I can to benefit all sentient beings, not just those close to me or those I agree with. If I see something or someone that is hurting others I must step forward and do what I can to assist them.” In the Army and in the dojo I learned how to defend myself, family and country but that does not mean I endorse the use of force. Two nonviolent examples of Fierce Buddhists that come to mind are Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama. While I do not claim be even close to them I can strive and so can you. Furthermore, my Buddhist name, given to me by Sensei Kubose, is Seiyo. His interpretation of my communication and interaction with him led him to this name. He told me Seiyo means “Fierce Sun.” The sun shines on everyone without prejudices without giving preferential treatment to anyone. This is tough to live up to, as you can imagine, but it sure sets the tone for my life. In Buddhism this is called a Fierce Bodhisattva. I am only on the path to Enlightenment and can only say to be a Fierce Buddhist.

15 responses »

  1. We teach our children our best virtues. We hope that enough of it sticks to hold society together. If we really want them to share, we should stop telling them to and start doing it.

    Sharing and non-violence are also the most basic tools that we use to teach empathy. We may expect a different practice of empathy when people get older, but we definitely use those things to teach them at young ages.

  2. My husband really is a sharing kind of guy, and it took me a long time to get used to it. If he builds a go kart for our kids, he really expects them to share it with the kids in the neighborhood. I used to get hung up on “what if THEY break it?” But I must say, I’m proud of him for teaching me that we’re never too old to share and play nice. Still, I always allow my children a couple of things that are sacred, that they never have to share, and he had a hard time understanding that, but I think there has to be a middle ground in there.

  3. great question! i think there is a duality here. we exploit the discontinuity between values and their related actions – say this, but do that.

    i think the goal is that one day, energy vested in the “upper values” such as sharing will trump what currently is, and become the new mark of normalcy.

    unless we teach forward and teach different, the results will never change. for that matter, when we have children, we should send them away to “social idiosyncrasy school” and throw our hands up – kinda like we do now.

    we must continue to teach sharing, love, etc. to traverse war, hate, racisim and all of the other things “society” seems to be ok with.

    lastly, i think we need to stop speaking of society like it some anomalous entity. it’s the collective – a collective each and everyone of us is part of, accountable to, and responsible for.

    • Well said my friend.

      Our family decided to homeschool our children partly for the reasons you mention. It is very difficult to pass along your mores and values to your children who spend more time influenced by the media and their peers. We felt that we wanted to help mold them into something other than what the school system would. It helps that my wife and I were both college profs 🙂 Each day has it’s unique challenges but our oldest 18 entered college at 12 and the youngest 8 is excelling in piano and martial arts. So far so good. 🙂

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  4. ACK, that is one of the things that does bother me about society. I was thinking of this a week or so ago and was thinking about doing a post on it, too. Discrepancies, discrepancies. I have NO IDEA why we do this. It seems like a good idea to teach children to share. We want them to grow up to be compassionate, considerate. It is RIGHT. But why then, as adults, do we say the opposite? Look out for number one, look out for yourself. I can’t explain, but I think one thing that might play into it is this: as children, we are supposed to follow the leaders, who are teaching us our “values” but when we grow up, who are our leaders? On one hand, the answer is obvious (our bosses, professors, police officers, judges, etc.) but on the other hand, in the end, you are your own leader, you’ll do what you will and hopefully care about the consequences of our actions. I think that creates the discrepancy, there isn’t anyone to tell is what is “right” anymore, except ourselves, more or less. 😦

    I nominated you for two awards. If you don’t want to accept that’s fine, but the rules stated I was to pass them on to 6 other bloggers. You were one that I chose.


  5. This is a really good question. I am passionate about teaching my son not only to share, but to give as well. And I practice what I am teaching him – I show him by example, not just by telling him what he should be doing,.

  6. I think if we do our jobs–it will keep them grounded when they have to go out and learn how to fend for themselves. They will attract more of the right kind of behavior in others too!

  7. Perhaps on a deep level we all know that sharing is important, so we try to instill that in our children; however, some people, as they “grow up” gain a disconnect from the needs of others, as well as their duties to others (sharing, helping, loving, caring, etc.). Perhaps this is another classic case of “do as I say, not as I do”. Very interesting, thanks for bring this up!

  8. I ‘study’ the parent/child interaction all day in libraryland. Sadly, I don’t see, nor hear, the sharing word used very often. It doesn’t surprise me, either, for being civil in general has become a lost art. “Please” or “thank you” are words I hear only 65 percent of the time from children, 75 percent from adults. This is coming from the ‘heartland’!

    Sharing and manners have been lost…where did they go? It is almost as if we believe that ‘sharing’ is a sign of weakness. Or, it is the “I earned it” and you must too if you wish to play with it.

    I’d say this is why the scary Ayn Rand movement is at the forefront. Rand would teach it is best to break all your toys than to share them with someone.

    As I write this, I’m trying to think back, to see if I’m a hypocrite at all…if I share. My immediate recollection is, yes, when it comes to the material…not so great when it comes to my time. Ergo, I doubt that makes me any better than one who holds tightly to their car keys. ~

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