A Story: Sharing—Akiva and Yehuda
We were at the local park Memorial Day morning. Isabelle had just gone to the top of the massive playground set, and she was beginning to play with the match-this puzzle (one of the many discovery installations on the set). A boy and his father had been making their way through the set a few “stations” behind us. When they caught up, the boy did not hesitate and immediately started playing the match-this puzzle. Though he didn’t touch her—and with both Simone just inches away and I a few feet away—Isabelle was startled and pulled away, haltingly.
The father of this boy immediately corrected him, saying, “Akiva, share!” When he did not move away, his father repeated, “Akiva! Remember, share! Let her finish playing first before you play.” When he still did not move, Yehuda, the father, began to pull the boy back a little, but we protested, saying, “it’s okay, they can both play together.” Together, we continued to encourage both Isabelle and Akiva to share the match-this puzzle. As both children continued to hesitate, we resorted to the tried-and-true form of initiating communication: the high-five. It worked!
And eventually, they learned that they had to share this common space, that the playground was a place where you played with others and continued to learn the meaning of sharing. Even if they’ve not learned it wholly, repeated instruction such as this reinforces the notion, the behavior—but most importantly, the principle.
A Parental Exhortation
Simone and I have been teaching Isabelle to share whenever she is in a social context: sharing what she is playing with. But, when it comes to reacting to either children who are the opposite and/or parents to don’t discipline or teach their children (see “Possessed”), we’re woefully unprepared. Just as we’ve encountered children and parents such as Akiva and Yehuda, we’ve equally encountered children who just ramble past and through everything in front of them without stopping to say “sorry” or sharing their space and parents who—seemingly, without instruction otherwise—either approve or are either completely oblivious to the behavior or do not understand how to instruct their children or don’t even think of instruction.
• Shouldn’t we be instructing our children, even as they are young (especially)?
• What happens when you encounter these moments?
• How actively is a parent supposed to “protect” their children in these moments?
• Do you pro-actively teach your children to be kind, to share, to help others?
• If you don’t, why not?
[EDIT: the questions above aren’t rhetorical. Feel free to answer in your comments: no Xanga log-in required.]
In our present day and age—America, in particular—it is common to believe that it’s no one else’s business how we instruct or not instruct/teach our children. I’ll give you that if you are an atheist or agnostic, you won’t have God-driven principles or directives. But you still have your own morals or convictions to live—and teach—by.
But if you are a Christian, then it is God’s command that you teach your young not only from the Bible, but that you instruct him/her through your own actions, living out the Bible to them. It is my prayer that as Christian parents, we shed the world’s view that each of us can parent in our own way as we see fit. While legally that is true—our freedom of almost everything, in fact, guarantees that—how quickly we have forgotten God’s commands just as we became parents and have subsequently become apparently inundated with “all that is parenthood.” It is as if we feel these burdens and “busyness” allow us to shirk not only our responsibilities as Christian brothers and sisters, but often forget what it means to be Christian. It is my prayer that we can encourage and exhort each other to follow in His commands, to honor and obey Him.