Mom’s post about not making her son share all the time goes viral
Share! Make sure you share! You have to share! This message is pounded into our brains our entire lives isn’t it? But, why? Is it really necessary to teach kids to share all the time? Are we even thinking about the message we’re sending, or just repeating a mantra we’ve been told our entire lives, too?
Alanya Kolberg was at the park with her son, Carson, last week. He brought a few action figures to share with a friend he was meeting. As soon as they got to the park, Carson was approached by a group of boys demanding he share his toy. The interaction inspired Kolberg to take to Facebook for a PSA of sorts. It should be required reading for all parents.
“MY CHILD IS NOT REQUIRED TO SHARE WITH YOURS,” she begins her post. Yes, those are shouty caps. Yes, they are necessary.
Kolberg explains that her son was approached by at least six boys all at once, demanding her son share his toys. When he shot a visibly overwhelmed look at his mom, she explained that he didn’t have to share.
“You can tell them no, Carson,” she said. “Just say no. You don’t have to say anything else.”
As soon as he said no, the boys ran to her to tattle that her son wasn’t sharing. So she explained to the kids, “He doesn’t have to share with you. He said no. If he wants to share, he will.”
That got her some dirty looks from other parents, as you can imagine. But she explains her reasoning in her now viral post, and it is right on:
“If I, an adult, walked into the park eating a sandwich, am I required to share my sandwich with strangers in the park? No!
“Would any well-mannered adult, a stranger, reach out to help themselves to my sandwich, and get huffy if I pulled it away? No again.
“So really, while you’re giving me dirty looks, presumably thinking my son and I are rude, whose manners are lacking here? The person reluctant to give his 3 toys away to 6 strangers, or the 6 strangers demanding to be given something that doesn’t belong to them, even when the owner is obviously uncomfortable?”
Seriously. Who makes these rules? Yes, we have to teach our kids to share, but the message isn’t “sacrifice everything you have, all the time” is it? I mean, why? Just because another kid happens to want to play with something your kid has, does that mean he has to give it up? If I get the coveted window seat at my favorite cafe in town, I don’t just give it up to the first adult who walks in who looks at it longingly. This is essentially what we’re teaching our kids they have to do by demanding they give up something another kid wants, all the time.
“The goal is to teach our children how to function as adults,” Kolberg explains. “While I do know some adults who clearly never learned how to share as children, I know far more who don’t know how to say no to people, or how to set boundaries, or how to practice self-care. Myself included.”
YES. Thank you. Not having boundaries with others is a huge problem for many of us. So is not knowing how to say “no.” Are we teaching our kids that their needs should always be on the back burner? There is a difference between a child who refuses to share all the time, and one who just isn’t done playing with something he’s cherishing. As adults, we need to recognize that and stop forcing our kids to be better and more self sacrificial than even we are.
“The next time your snowflake runs to you, upset that another child isn’t sharing, please remember that we don’t live in a world where it’s conducive to give up everything you have to anyone just because they said so, and I’m not going to teach my kid that that’s the way it works.”
And neither should the rest of us.