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Opening Arguments

Back offa my stuff

I'm in a contrarian mood today, so this post got my day off to a good start: Stop forcing your kids to share:

Of course we want our children to get along with other people, and making them share their toys with friends seems like a step on that road.

But maybe there are other virtues we are stifling with this whole forced sharing business.

Are we giving them the sense that all stuff is collectively owned and just by virtue of their presence in a room, they are entitled to take part in its use?

That’s not exactly the kind of message we want to send to create tough strivers.

How will they understand the importance of property rights to growing a free and prosperous ­society?

And this whole business about having some authority divvy up our spoils and arbitrarily decide who is most deserving of them sounds more like a socialist utopia than a practice for training our children to be democratic ­citizens.

She's maybe overthinking it a bit. Some things should be shared (like, oh, the last donut in the box) and some shouldn't (like the special toy Johnny or Suzy got as a birthday present). And parents can get out the message on playing well with others without conveying the idea that all sharing all the time is the way to go.

But I think her general point is valid. Kids developing sharing skills as they get older. Forcing them into it before they have a sense that they have their own place in the world, with a unique viewpoint and the right to their own stuff, is not going to result in creative, motivated people.