it's ok not to share by heather shumakerParenting trends come and go, but there are certain tenets that persist as fundamental rules of American child rearing: no kicking, hitting, and always stress the importance of sharing. Heather Shumaker’s It's OK Not to Share…  and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids (Tarcher/Penguin) questions standard parenting adages and offers a brand-new set of “renegade rules” for raising young kids (geared toward ages 2-6). 

Too often, Shumaker says, we forget that our kids’ brains don’t yet work like ours do. When they’re forced to hand over a toy before they’re ready, they don’t learn important lessons about generosity; they simply feel cheated out of a toy. 


Think like a kid—>


kid tantrumIn It’s OK Not to Share, Shumaker teaches adults to “take off their adult lenses” and address issues of morality with more child-friendly methods. Beyond allowing children the freedom to cling to their toy until they’re “all done,” Shumaker’s rules include:

  • Don’t make your kids don’t say “Sorry”
  • Let kids express their anger by hitting or kicking (inanimate objects).
  • Toy guns (and bombs and bad guys…) are allowed.
  • Let your kid swear.
  • Boys can wear tutus.
  • Sex Ed starts in preschool.
  • Let them say “I hate you.” It’s nothing personal.

“The rules are controversial because they’re different,” says Shumaker, “but really they’re just common sense backed up by the thinking of some of our best child psychologists and neuroscientists.”

Shumaker’s philosophy is that these rules are “all about giving children freedom to play, and giving adults tips on how to set effective limits.” Her advice to parents who balk at some of these rules is: “Follow your child’s lead and be prepared to change your mind.  Some kids have a deep need to play with toy guns, for example, or dress up in princess clothes.  Adopt the rules that fit your family.  Take what’s useful to you and leave the rest.”

Judy Grover is the mom of two rambunctious boys.

Do you think she makes sense or are you appalled? (Somewhere in the middle?)