Community Toys

by Jamey
(California)

Hi. I have a question about sharing toys. My wife and I always have the same argument around the holidays and other "gift giving" days of the year. For the most part, our kids share their toys and play very well together. The problem comes into play when my older kids (8 and 11) request "special" gifts from us, or from grandparents.


For example, this year, my 8 year old put a very popular, hand held gaming system on his Christmas list. My Mother, (his Grandmother), decided that she wanted to get it for him. My wife is of the belief that every toy that comes into the house needs to be a "community" toy that they all share, so as not to alienate the kids. My belief is that sharing is very important, but when a gift is given to a child, its "their" gift. I believe that individuality is important and if a child has the ability to rationalize a want/need, and requests a gift, and that gift is given, it should be his/hers.

My wife disagrees and feels that if one child receives a "special" gift, then all the other children, regardless of age, should receive a comparable "special" gift, otherwise its not fair. The problem is more with the 3 year old not understanding that he can't play with everything. And my wife feels that its confusing for such a young child to tell him to share his things, but that he can't play with my older son's "special" toys.

As I understand her point, I just don't agree, and its causing problems in how we teach/raise our kids. I honestly feel that if a child is given something, then it should be theirs. If they choose to share it, then great, I've done my job. But I think the choice should be theirs. Am I wrong in thinking that there needs to be a difference between toys that are designated as "family" toys/games, and special toys for individuality?

Thanks for your help.

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Oct 29, 2015
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Dec 23, 2009
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Sharing Toys
by: Laura Ramirez

I believe that it is good for a child to have a special toy that is all his own. A toy that he does not have to share with others unless he is willing to.

In my opinion, when sharing is mandated, children are really not learning the value of sharing. (I liken this to the concept of the "mandatory donation." Is it really a donation if it's obligatory?) However when a child shares a cherished toy with someone who is entrusted with the care of this prized object, then something special has just happened between two people. The difference here is that the child has made the choice to share.

Maybe if you show this post to your wife, she will reconsider her position. The key here is to teach your children humane values and to figure out how to transmit these values to your kids in a way that doesn't polarize you as parents. I'm not saying that this is what is happening here, but maybe you can combine your viewpoints and find a workable solution. Perhaps you can have community toys along with special toys in your home. It is also important to understand that some toys are not age-appropriate to share, since younger kids may not know how to handle expensive electronic toys with the care that is required.

Suggestions for how to come to a consensus on important family issues can be found in my parenting book

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