“It’s mine!” will be a common squeal from young children across the world as they unwrap their Christmas presents under the tree this year.
Whether it is their toy or a sibling’s, the desire to possess an object is a natural part of child development, and it’s emotionally healthy for a child to form strong attachments over prized possessions.
From Elmo to Barney, kids are now inundated with songs and lectures about “sharing” everything. It’s the path of least resistance to teach kids to share, and it saves parents from negotiating with a lot of teary-eyed toddlers.
But it also begs the question: Is the focus on sharing creating a misguided view of the world?
A lot of well-intentioned parents believe they are forming a balanced, civilized child by emphasizing the importance of “taking turns” and “sharing.”
These sentiments become more important during the holidays, when children are faced with new belongings and toys. Unfortunately, some parents do not make the distinction between “healthy sharing” and “unhealthy sharing” during this time of Christmas gift-giving.
It seems virtuous to encourage sharing, but when the concept is applied poorly, it can leave children without a sense of individualism and ownership over their gifts.
“Parents urge sharing with siblings and friends, but they don’t say, ‘Give your toys to people that demand them,’” Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist told LifeZette.
Children who are forced to share when they are kids develop a skewed perception of sharing in adulthood.
“One of the key points stressed when parents suggest that their children ‘share’ is that ‘your sister will give it back when she is done playing with it,’” said Norquist. “(Yet) government does not insist that a welfare recipient return your cash when they are ‘done with it.’”
When parents force upon their children the idea that they must share under duress or because someone wants what they have, they are saturating their kids with the idea that they are allowed to bully or be bullied for their property. The coveting and entitled generation that formed the “Occupy Wall Street” movement did not come from nowhere.
There’s a reason Americans became skeptical of then-rising presidential star Barack Obama in 2008 when he made a remark to Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher during his campaign: “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”
“Politicians say ‘sharing’ when they mean, ’I will take your stuff and give it to my friends. You won’t see it again,’” Norquist said.
It’s not that Americans aren’t generous and willing to share. In fact, Americans gave away $360 billion to charity last year.
We do share as a society, but we like to share under our own terms. Americans are very uncomfortable with “forced sharing” as determined by authority.
While teaching children civility is key within a family, we are also a country of rugged individualists.
Americans fought a revolution for our beliefs and our land so individuals could choose their own fate — the definition of freedom. When the British Parliament forced colonists to share their accommodations and food with British soldiers, the tensions fueled the fire for the Revolutionary War.
Wurzelbacher believes children learn the best lesson about “giving” and “sharing” by learning the value of a dollar. This can be achieved by doing chores or other work and earning rewards for their efforts.
“Sharing is something you start talking about to your toddlers, but it is the actions of your own life that reinforce it. My son would see me give money at church, help a friend, or any number of things that most people would constitute as being ‘mine.’” Wurzelbacher told LifeZette. “As parents, you hope to see your child learn how to balance between ‘good’ giving and ‘bad’ giving … i.e., sharing.”
The millennial generation was taught — both by their parents and shows like “Sesame Street” — that sharing is an indication of how you work well with others. The message: You have poor character if you don’t share. They were effectively indoctrinating children with the seeds of socialism.
In essence, though, parents end up teaching the dangerous lesson that it’s acceptable to covet someone else’s property. It’s no wonder so many college kids can’t wait to vote for socialist Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. They have been taught that the world is one big commune and all property should be fairly distributed.
It’s patently un-American to feel indifferent to ownership. Freedom includes the will to do what you wish with your own property, and it should be passionately defended.
Parents would do well this Christmas to attach a name tag to the individual gifts they’re giving to their children.
It may seem small, but it reinforces an important lesson to your child: Your property is yours and yours alone.
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