Charity, generosity—most parents have been drilling these values into their kid’s heads and hearts since day one. You encourage them to share but sometimes, the ones with whom they share don’t seem to hold up their end of the bargain. “I bought almost 20 pencils—no exaggerating—in just one school year, because my son would always come home with an empty pencil box,” says Maritess Miranda-Enriquez, mom to Miguel Ryan, 12. “It’s because a classmate didn’t return his pencil.”
“Sharing is good, but [it must have] limitations,” says Michele S. Alignay, M.A., R.G.C., associate counselor and parenting-relationship consultant at the Love Institute. Resources are limited—and so are situations where sharing is a good thing. “It’s not about choosing with whom to share but choosing the circumstances when one should share,” stresses Alignay, herself a mom of two.
“Help your child set boundaries and say no,” says Pilar Tolentino, executive director of the Center for Family Ministries (CEFAM). “Make him understand that saying no doesn’t mean he’s being madamot or unhelpful,” Tolentino, also a mother to two girls, continues. “Some children are uncomfortable with saying no, because they think they might hurt others’ feelings. We should be able to teach our children other ways to help. Sharing is just one way.”
Another way is to teach other kids to be self-reliant, according to Alignay, or to teach them ‘how to fish.’ “Kids must also learn how to share within certain parameters: First, the person you want to share with really doesn’t have anything. Second, you really want to share with him. If he expects you to share with him just because, that’s no longer sharing.”
What it is is abuse bordering on bullying, one of a parent’s worst fears. Tolentino says, “A child who’s being bullied needs someone who has authority to help him, like a teacher, because he can’t deal with the bully on his own.” But before having the talk with your child’s homeroom adviser, get the facts straight. “Pause and relax first,” Tolentino advises. “Ask your child about her reason for sharing. Understand where she’s coming from, because your intervention should depend on her reason.”
“It’s not about choosing with whom to share but choosing the circumstances when one should share.”