The importance of sharing is a lesson drilled into us all from an early age. It makes us mindful of others, teaches us how to be kind, and helps us become well-mannered adults … right?
Maybe; maybe not.
One mom recently challenged the notion of what it means to share in a recent Facebook post that has struck such a nerve, it’s been shared more than 226K times.
Alanya Kolberg began her April 19 post with a clear message for all parents: “MY CHILD IS NOT REQUIRED TO SHARE WITH YOURS.”
At first read, that’s a pretty strong and, some might say, aggressive statement to make. But upon further reading, the intent behind Kolberg’s message becomes increasingly clear.
As her post describes, Kolberg and her son took a recent trip to the park, where as soon as they arrived, her son Carson was “approached by at least 6 boys, all at once demanding that he share his transformer, Minecraft figure, and truck.” Kolberg goes on to explain that her son was “visibly overwhelmed” and uncomfortable, looking to her with uncertainty.
“‘You can tell them no, Carson,'” Kolberg told her son. “‘Just say no. You don’t have to say anything else.'”
We’ve all been there: Your child begs to bring their favorite toy to the park, and although you worry it may get lost or make other kids jealous, you allow it knowing just how much that special toy means to them. In an uncomfortable situation like this, the child absolutely had a right to say no.
But as Kolberg writes, the other boys immediately ran to tattle on her son for not sharing.
“‘He doesn’t have to share with you,'” Kolberg says she told the boys. “‘He said no. If he wants to share, he will.'”
Despite getting a fair amount of dirty looks from the kids’ parents, Kolberg stuck to her guns, and considered it a simple, yet powerful lesson in consent. And in the days since her post went viral, it’s sparked an interesting debate: We all know that sharing is good, but have we taken the concept a little too far?
If you’re still a bit skeptical, consider this: “If I, an adult, walked into the park eating a sandwich, am I required to share my sandwich with strangers in the park?” wrote Kolberg. “No!”
Looking at her son’s situation from an adult’s point of view, she asks:
” … 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?”
Kolberg also pointed out that her child brought the toys to share with her friend’s little girl, who they were planning to meet at the park. She says her son simply didn’t want to share with the other boys because he was excited to share with this little girl. Like any child, I’m sure he was intimidated by the swarm of aggressive attention by the other boys; and in that case, why would he want to hand over his toys to them?
Kolberg ends her post with some valuable advice for other parents:
“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.”
Amen to that.
It is possible to teach kids that kindness and sharing include comfort and consent — and it’s up to us to model that for them.More On