Sharing is not just for “pre-schoolers”! Appropriate sharing and borrowing are issues that reach well into adulthood and we probably could all be reminded of “sharing and borrowing etiquette”; so let’s begin. Of course, we all want to be generous and giving individuals, but that doesn’t mean we always have to say, “Yes.” It’s a good idea to teach our children that we want to get in the “habit” of sharing and giving, but occasionally, it’s alright to say, “No” to sharing. We would never want to lend something out that if we did not get it back or if it got broken, we would be devastated. For instance, my grandfather gave me a book of ghost stories that he wrote in the front a sweet message to me. This is simply something I would not let leave my home. It means too much. I recommend sitting down with your children and deciding ahead of time what would not be an item to share. Then, if and when their friends asked to borrow it, you and they have already made the decision and it’s easier to respond appropriately.
There are a few etiquette considerations when sharing or borrowing. First of course, we ask before we take using “the magic words” like please, thank you and you’re welcome. Next and almost the most important, we commit at the time of taking, when we will return the item. Whether it’s tomorrow, next Friday or “when the cows come home”; we still make a commitment. This helps the person lending the item to feel more secure and comfortable, knowing that the item will be returned and when. Once you make this commitment, YOU MUST KEEP IT. This is where integrity “comes in”. In order to be trustworthy, we must be trusted. One way we can develop the characteristics of integrity and honor is to do what we say we will do. Have you ever lent something to someone and assumed they would return it quickly and then months later, you run into them and they are still wearing or using your item. All of a sudden, you feel awkward around them and next thing you know, you are feeling anger and resentment. I have seen friendships lost and feelings really hurt as a result of “poor borrowing etiquette”. The most important thing to consider when borrowing is: take extreme care of whatever you borrow. You want to return the item in “as good” or better condition than when you borrowed it. Return the item “in person”, never giving the item to someone else to return. Lastly, never lend something that does not belong to you.
These etiquette considerations will help your children and you feel better about sharing and borrowing. Of course, as our children get older, their “toys” get more expensive. Instead of dolls and trucks, they have i-pods and cell phones. Please, please teach your children that it is not wise to borrow these expensive items from their friends. Too often, something unexpected “goes wrong” and then, not only do you have children upset; parents are upset too.
If I could spend just a moment on the topic of borrowing money from others; for all our benefit. Today, due to economic pressures, people are more tempted to borrow money from their friends and family. Although it is wonderful when family and friends can help their loved ones during financial “hard times”, specific considerations must be considered to ensure relationships will not be threatened. As written above, one of the most important things to remember when borrowing or lending money is to establish a time, means and place when the money will be returned. Discuss if there will be any interest attached. Discuss what happens if the money can not be returned. After this commitment of repayment has been established, keep your word. If some unseen emergency happens after the arrangements have been made that prevents you from returning the money on time, let the “lender” know as soon as possible. Be careful borrowing money from others. Relationships are too important to risk being broken.
Have a great month,
CEO/The Etiquette Factory