Originally appeared on Love, Peace, and Tiny Feet

For as long as I’ve been a parent, I’ve tried to instill what I thought were important life lessons for my children: be kind to others, respect yourself, and of course…I’ve taught my kids to share. What occurred the other day had me rethinking that last lesson. Here’s what happened:

I picked my girls up from school and “Sam” (my 4 year old) still had some leftover cookies from her snack. “L” (my 7 year old), who had already finished her favorite snack, said she was still hungry and asked Sam to share with her.  Not surprisingly, Sam said, “Nope.” 

L continued to beg, whine, and tattle. “Mommy, Sam’s not sharing!!!”

Initially, I recalled a pizza incident from a few years back where Sam threw her leftover pizza into the toilet to avoid sharing with L.  As much as I hoped something like that would never occur again, I opted to stay out of this argument this time. 

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Then, L took a different course of action to try to get those cookies…

L: Ok Sam, how about if you give me a cookie, I will give you this {leftover} granola bar.

Sam: Nope. I’d rather have my cookies.

L: I’ll give you this granola bar and then a lollipop when we get home.

Sam: I want the lollipop and I want to hold your doll.

L: Then you have to give me 2 cookies instead of just 1…

So what was happening was my kids were actually learning and practicing a life lesson even more important and valuable than “sharing.”

They were learning how to place a fair value on their goods and services.

They were learning how to leverage those goods as a way to get something they want or need.

They were learning how to negotiate for an optimal win-win situation…

That’s not selfish, that’s business!

The art of negotiation, if you will. As a business woman, I cannot help but to support that! In my business, I don’t “share” my goods or services. I place a fair value on them and I sell them!  If a potential buyer disagrees with my price, we negotiate.  That’s how business works.  That’s how the world works!

I realized that I have been teaching my kids to be “nice” and share with others, when in actually, that is far more of a disservice to them than good.  So many of us are raised to be “nice” and giving, and selfless and what not, but as I learned fairly early on once I started my own business, those are not characteristics that make for a great business person.  

Even outside of business, I have had to learn to negotiate for my job salary, the price I would pay to have my yard serviced, hell…I negotiate with my husband nearly every day for who’s gonna wash the dishes!  The truth is that in life, people don’t always share and I should not feel so entitled to think that they should.  In actuality, me expecting someone to do or give something to me for nothing is selfish and entitled on my part. That’s not what I want my kids to learn.    

So while I’m not saying that I am going to necessarily teach them not to share, I’m definitely not going condemn them for opting to use their smarts to find fair and reasonable ways to get what they want, rather than to just expect it because it’s the “nice” thing to do.  

So, chime in guys…what are your thoughts on teaching your kids to share?