Back when my four oldest were six years old and under, Yale University somehow found my name and the fact that I had a passel of children whom they thought would be highly beneficial in their many studies of young children's behavior. I remember Caleb was chosen more times than my other children, simply because they had studies for his age group at the time. I remember taking him down into the city of New Haven, parking in their designated spot in a lot a few blocks from the lab, and trekking across town with my children in tow. Every time I would ask myself, "Why am I doing this? Why am I putting myself through this extra stress? This is really not necessary!" The building was set back behind a few others and had a beautiful courtyard, and the architectural work was beautiful, but it was not enough for me to think it was still worth the effort. Up three floors to their little room they called a lab and finally I would arrive out of breath and settle down on the leather couch to wait our turn. It took about fifteen minutes and then he was done. The studies were about learning whether infants could add and subtract, mentally solve problems, and others about how toddlers thought through issues of life. As time went on I began to feel uncomfortable with all the studies they wanted to do. I never really saw the results of their tests, and I decided I would not let them use my children anymore in finding things that I might not even agree on. The last time they called me was to do a study about children sharing and how they react in certain circumstances with other children their age. Really? You have to actually study how children react to sharing? All they needed to do was spend a day with a bunch of four and five year old children and they will have all the information they possibly need regarding thinking of others and sharing.
I was watching my class play at recess the other day and it suddenly hit me how much I hate the idea of sharing and how wrong it is to impress upon them that they have to share. It all started when my class brought some balls into the gym and began playing together, quite happily I must say. K4 came into the room to join us and one little boy saw the balls and wanted to have one. He kept coming up to me over and over again saying, "They need to share the ball. I want that ball and they need to share it with me." His comment struck a chord with me and I realized how flawed the idea of sharing really is. He wanted me to demand that they give up what they rightfully brought in and were happily playing with so he could satisfy his own desire for happiness without waiting or working for it. Just because he wanted it. So I did the unthinkable. I told him, "No, I won't make them give it to you. They brought it in and you did not. If they want to let you play with it when they are done, than that is their choice. You go find another game to play."
He did not understand that concept. He was back quite often trying to get others to give him stuff too. I went away shaking my head. What are we teaching our children? We give our children presents for their birthday, rewards, or just because we love them and then expect them to hand it over to someone else because sharing is the right thing to do? I have seen things broken or used up because children were told to share and they never had the chance to finish their project or play with their toy because the one they shared with did not value the new item. As adults we get new cars, clothes, and many other items we find valuable, money included, and do not expect someone else to come along and demand we share that car with them so they can use it too.
I looked up the word share in the Bible and it is mentioned only as a term for a part of something. Like his share of the wealth, etc. It is not used as a term for giving what you have to someone else. The word 'give' is used over and over again, but the one verse I like is the one at the top of this page: preferring one another. That means to think of the other person as better than yourself; more highly than you. The verses after that one are good too: "Not slothful in business (you will think of your boss in your work and do the best that you can. You will also be doing it as unto the Lord.); fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints (giving to those who are in need); given to hospitality (having people over for fellowship and encouragement). Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not (again, thinking more highly of others than yourself). Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another..." The chapter goes on until it says, "Live peaceably with all men." We need to teach our children the value of giving and thinking of others. Yes, it is kind to let someone else play with our ball if they ask, but it is even better to think of someone else before they even ask for it. We need to teach them to look around for someone who needs a friend, or seems lonely and in need of a ball. Forget yourself and see people as Jesus would see them. Prefer others over yourselves and try to live peaceably with all men. The fact is, Jesus gave His life for us. Shouldn't we try to do the same? Not because others demand it, but because it is our choice and we want to do what Jesus would do. Something to think about.