On this episode of the parenting manual we discuss reciprocity and generosity as they relate to the virtue of sharing. So I'm going to take you for a ride with me today and I want to discuss some very interesting and important topics. These are the topics of reciprocity and generosity. And the reason that these are so important is because what I have come to find in my own life is that how these behaviors manifest in small children.

It can result in some unwanted side effects later on in life as an adult. What do I mean by this? Well, a perfect example. When my six-year-old boy goes and plays with his friends, either at the playground or at school, oftentimes he will want to share. He will. Offered to share his food of his own accord or his toys of his own accord.

Summary any Quotes


[00:00:10] – The importance of reciprocity and generosity
[00:06:03] – Understanding why we do certain things
[00:10:09] – Being enough
[00:13:32] – Understanding people’s motivations

Quotes from the Episode:
“it's not sharing. If he doesn't have a choice in the matter.” [00:01:07]

“The rule that we have or the guideline that we have is that. When our children are young, that all of the food belongs to us as the parents. We are giving them that food and we're providing them with that food, and so if we say that they have to give that to their sister, that that piece of food to their sister, then that's just something that we have as an expectation.” [00:07:08]

“Anytime that there is growth…There's going to have to be compromise because you can't grow generally speaking in all areas at the same time.” [00:10:38]

Transcript continues below

Sometimes, and sometimes he won't. But the thing is, is that he gets to make that decision because it's not sharing. If he doesn't have a choice in the matter. Now, I will talk about how we suggest that he shares at some point in time, because especially with his, With his sister or in certain instances, we just need for them to share simply because if it's a food item that we didn't buy to of, we bought it with the intention to share one child has at first, I'm going to tell you how I handle that at, at the end of this right here because it's something that I think is going to be really useful for my kids as they grow older and, and have their own children.

It's really useful. The technique that we have found works really well. But the real thing is not the behavior in the moment, but the behavior that it can breed 10 2030 years down the line. So we instill in our young kids that sharing is a virtue, that giving is a virtue. But. We leave out the other half of the equation.

Why the other half of why we might want to do that at some times? And we also forget to say why we might not want to do that at other times when we have little kids, sometimes it's just more convenient for us as adults and parents if they share. And so. We don't make that distinction. So how does this show up later on in life?

Well, I'll give you a perfect example. With my son, for instance, he realizes that if he shares his candy, more kids come around to him and they want to play with him more. He had a baseball hat that was. Very interesting to a number of kids. He told me that he wanted to give it away to this one kid and we had a little pause at that time.

We had a little time out because I wanted to understand what his motivation was for doing that. Was it because it was sunny out and this other little boy didn't have a hat? What turns out that my son came to realize very quickly that he could Curry favor with. Other kids by giving them candy or bye bye.

I'm giving this hat in this instance. So we discussed that what was important. It's okay to share and it's okay because otherwise then sometimes people will share with you. That's, that's fine. But what I wanted to instill in him was the fact that he was enough on his own. That he did not have to share and he did not have to give his candy away.

He did not have to give his hat away in order for him to be liked how this comes knocking, how the chickens come home to roost many, many years down the line. Because what happens is, is if we build up our children, if I build up my son like this, then he is not going to benefit from a very.

Powerful ability to discriminate among people who like to be around him because they like to be around him as a person versus people who liked to be around him because they get things from him. And so if he does not have that, that ability, basically if we teach him to share, because we say sharing is a virtue without describing when.

We may actually want to do it. And also when it's not actually a virtue and when we don't actually necessarily want to share, then where we're taking away a very valuable and powerful ability for him to understand the motivations, why certain people are. Associating or affiliating with him in the future.

And that's going to be really important as he grows into a teenager. And then in his adult years, not only in as, as he's as growing up, growing into a a boy and then into a man, but also as he, goes out and finds himself a family. And as he goes out and finds himself a career and makes a career for himself.

One of the most important things as parents. That has been a real challenge, and I've talked with my folks about this too, is understanding why we do certain things and any time we find ourselves as parents doing something simply because it's convenient, we really have taken the effort to go and ask.

What are the longterm consequences of this or getting a desired behavior in the short term, but what behavior are we instilling in the future? What are we potentially making our kids blind to in the future? And what I want to do right now is I want to, I promised that I would share with you one of the ways that.

We encourage sharing or we when, when, for example, if there has been one candy bar that we purchased and we didn't bring two or whatever, there's just, we need to share this. My son needs to share it with his sister. Something of that nature. We didn't buy too because we should have bought two, but we just didn't, we only have one.

The rule that we have or the guideline that we have is that. When our children are young, that all of the food belongs to us as the parents. We are giving them that food and we're providing them with that food, and so if we say that they have to give that to their sister, that that piece of food to their sister, then that's just something that we have as an expectation.

Now. Is that something that we're potentially overlooking the longterm effects of that in the future? Yes and no. So when my kids grow up, I want them to understand that they belong to themselves and that their property belongs to them as well. And so I'm, I'm making a very strong distinction here between items that are.

Often of contention, like a treat or something of that nature versus my child's favorite stuffed animal. My child's favorite stuffed animal is his stuffed animal. It's his property because I want to instill that in him, but the things that are contentious, like food that might not be shared.

Equally well, that belongs to the house that belongs to the parents. Another thing that we do, especially, let's say that they, there is a piece of cake that's going to be split. One thing that we do is rather than us as the adults cutting the piece of cake, what we'll do is we'll offer, generally speaking, my.

Oldest child, this opportunity, we'll say, you cut the cake and your sister gets to choose which slice is hers. Now, the reason that we do this is because the sister is a little bit younger and she's really not. so well practiced with the mechanics of using a knife at this point. she would mutilate the cake rather than cut it, whereas my son is fairly precise with a knife at this point in time.

What this does though, is it forces him to be extremely equitable in where he chooses to place that knife and how he chooses to divide that cake because he realizes that his sister is going to point to the piece that she perceives to be the bigger piece. So it's in his best interest to make that slice as equal as possible.

So that. She doesn't, so that they both, they both get a fair, a fair deal of it, and they realize this and they value this. But going back to the other piece about being enough, that's a huge thing, I think for was a huge thing for me growing up. as a, as a child, I know for my wife it was big as well.

And so now I'm kind of speaking to my kids here directly with this. This is really an understanding that listen, we get that growing up is a, is a challenging time. It's a time of growth and with growth. anytime that there is growth, there is number one. There's going to have to be compromise because you can't grow generally speaking in all areas at the same time.

And there's also differentiation, meaning that. If you want to pursue one activity, it's generally going to come at the expense of another activity. And so when you grow up and as you grow up and as you develop, we want to equip you, not just with the tools to do well academically, but we want to equip you with the tools to decide who you might want to associate with and who good friends are.

And why those friends want to be around you for the, for, for the reason that is closest to the truth. And so if we give you this ability to discriminate, rather than putting this veil over your eyes and saying, well, I'll share and give, you know, people that like you because you do things for them that.

is I think, going to be a huge benefit to you in, in the future. One thing that is really interesting to me is there are many books out nowadays, and there's, there's a lot of, there are many studies on this, on the concept of, of reciprocity. So for instance, when you go into a restaurant and you leave a tip.

At the for the wait staff. Oftentimes prior to them coming over with the bill, they will put a few, chocolates or a few minutes on the bill, and this is done. There have been, there's been scientific research done on this that shows that when the wait staff leaves a few minutes on the bill, that they're tip.

Is generally higher than when they don't do that. The principle being that they gave you a little something and so you're going to give them a little something in return, even if what you tip, the increasing your tip is much greater than the actual value that you received from the cost of those mints.

So. Why is this important? What's, what's kind of the on the line with this is

if this is going on in your relationships, if this is going on with your friends, if your judgment is able to be clouded by the presence of a few minutes on the check at a restaurant, then imagine how. Much impact this has over the course of a relationship that you have with somebody. So being able to understand what people's motivations are.

Are they there because they like you because they enjoy your company because you're fun to be around because you're a good friend? Or are they there because you have a resource that they like to have access to? And they provide you with friendship in exchange for that resource. By understanding this, and by not, not forcing, sharing, by not forcing, giving things away to be quote unquote nice.

Our hope is that we're equipping you with the skill set to be able to discriminate when somebody likes you, for you versus when somebody likes you simply because you have a resource that they want to have access to. So that's it for this episode. If you have any questions, if you have any comments, please send me an email and we'll see you in the next show.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


For better or worse, kids repeat the parenting patterns they experienced as children. We explain the parenting decisions we made and their intended outcomes to equip our children with an understanding of their default behaviors so they can better navigate the world and find success in life…


Got a question you’d like answered in the show? Click the chat bubble. You can even send it anonymously (but what fun is that?)

Scroll to Top