Sharing

December 12, 2007 at 4:44 am 2 comments

My sincere apologies to any regular readers for my delinquency in posting this month. You see, my 22-month-old has turned into a teenager overnight. (And I’ve had a big deadline, but that’s less interesting for the purposes of this blog.)

My sweet, cuddly baby is here in just glimpses these last couple of weeks. The rest of the time, it’s like she’s going through puberty. You know, the natural development. The mood swings. The desperate need for intense attention and wild independence, changing from moment to moment. The rebellion (at this age, to naps). And, the trouble with sharing.

Sharing.

It’s a tough concept, for two-year-olds and, frankly, for adults.

The idea is lovely. We are generous with our things, our time, our feelings, and our attention. We let other people have a turn. And we hope they let us have a turn, too.

The actual practice, though, is complicated.

How much sharing is OK before we start to feel we’ve given too much? What if the other person doesn’t share back? Are there times when it’s OK not to share?

I’m a fan of the idea that the more we give, in the larger sense, the more we receive. I truly do believe our generosity pays, sometimes in ways we can’t immediately see, and the more confident we are in ourselves the more we are able to share with others. However, I also understand that we need to make some kind of boundaries so as not to get walked all over.

So, how do you illustrate all of this to a toddler? By example, of course — right? But how does sharing really play out in our grownup lives? In friendships lately, I’ve had to set boundaries with some while opening up more in others. In professional encounters, I’ve had to attempt to understand others’ quite different concepts of sharing and not sharing this year. In marriage, we’re constantly renegotiating the sharing of chores and time.

It never gets less complicated, really. Sharing is a wide and murky river, never static or crystal clear. It starts tossing us around before we’re even two. I see it in its most dramatic form in my tantrum-prone toddler lately. It’s hard.

Still, I suppose it is basically just taught and understood by example. By showing that we continue each day to navigate that murky river to the best of our abilities. Being kind and generous, and true to ourselves. Believing that, for the most part, giving to others does not take away from ourselves. And, yet, seeing that speaking up for ourselves (with respect for others) is important.

We learn so much by watching the behavior of others (some to emulate, some to not emulate). As parents, we can just try to be an example worthy of following. As people, I guess it’s the same.

And, sometimes, if we feel the need to act out and say “mine!”, well, it’s only natural. Maybe it needs to be said sometimes. Or maybe we’ll learn to share more when we get a little bigger.

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Entry filed under: Career, Friendship, Life, Parenting.

Success, Bill Gates and Space to Play Little Cousins, Big Salaries

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Melissa  |  December 12, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    I love this analogy. My 2yo is in that (long) stage where she doesn’t yet understand the difference between possession and ownership–that is, if she is holding something at this moment, she believes it belongs to her, only and forever; and she is afraid to share because she thinks that if you’re holding something, you own it and won’t give it back.

    I’m going to watch myself for 2yo sharing behavior this week. I think I behave this way with my time (especially my afternoon Quiet Time!). It’s mine, mine, and don’t think of trying to sqeeze a minute of it away from me! (Okay, I’m not quite that miserly, but I suspect I could do better, with better results).

    Reply
  • 2. Shawn  |  December 15, 2007 at 10:58 am

    Ah, yes … we are on the same page once again. I agree with PP, too. There are certain things I just do not want to budge on … like taking a few minutes after their breakfast to sip my coffee and watch them play. I sing songs at that time, but always they want to climb on my lap, which is a no-no when drinking coffee. I’m stingy that way. : )

    This is definitely a hard stage. No place is safe, either, except when other people are around — then they are perfect little angels.

    I have to watch my behavior, too. I know this. It’s so hard. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only mother going crazy over all of this.

    I do try and teach empathy and while they do not grasp it, I’m sure they will some day. Like, “Oh, your sister would really enjoy playing with that book.” I’ve also learned that eventually EVERYTHING gets old.

    At least your in Cali and can get outside … it’s very much winter here and snow is expected tomorrow, again. : (

    Reply

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