This mom shared her controversial view of sharing on Facebook and started a huge, viral debate.
We’ve all heard the signature phrase, “sharing is caring,” and many people remember being told by their parents to share and play nicely with other kids when they were young. Though there are always some kids that are brattier than others in every school and age group, even the most helpless parents attempt to tell their kids to share when another kid comes along and asks for something.
But how many times have parents stopped and asked themselves if sharing is really the best policy? No one wants their kids to be marked as the mean one who doesn’t offer to split up their belongings, whether they be toys or food, so it’s natural to teach them to share and care about others. However, when does this cross the line and edge into the underlying issue of always pleasing others?
Alanya Kolberg, a mom of three from Missouri, recently had an interaction at the park with one of her sons and some other boys and decided to post about what happened. In her post on Facebook, she starts by saying,
“MY CHILD IS NOT REQUIRED TO SHARE WITH YOURS.”
“As soon as we walked in the park, Carson was approached by at least 6 boys, all at once demanding that he share his transformer, Minecraft figure, and truck. He was visibly overwhelmed and clutched them to his chest as the boys reached for them. He looked at me.
“‘You can tell them no, Carson,’ I said. ‘Just say no. You don’t have to say anything else.'”
These few lines alone have people everywhere in a frenzy, likely flipping through their book of manners and trying to determine why it would be all right for a child not to share. The age old mantra about sharing doesn’t permit exceptions, so if you refuse to share, does that also mean that you don’t care? Kolberg says that no, this isn’t the case, and here’s why.
“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?”
Kolberg makes a great point here: if adults don’t have to share with strangers, what kind of life are parents setting up for their children by forcing them to share? The problem is that parents teach their children to share simply because they don’t want fights between children and for their kids to be nice people. This can be achieved without forcing them to give up their belongings, for example, by teaching them how to use their words to communicate why they don’t want to share. Although sharing overall is a nice idea, Kolberg points out that it leads to other problems later in life.
“The goal is to teach our children how to function as adults. 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.”
She goes on to explain that Carson didn’t want to share his toys specifically because he was saving them for his friend, who is the daughter of Kolberg’s friend, that they were meeting in just a few minutes. Of course, Kolberg didn’t feel that Carson needed to explain himself in this manner, as not wanting to share was reason enough to not hand over his toys.
A heated debate has started because of this post, with proponents from both sides weighing in on the sharing rule and how it has affected themselves and their parenting. Many replies have been supportive, such as when one commenter said,
“I agree with you. Children need to learn that they can’t have everything they see. Then they don’t like giving back what’s not theirs. The kid isn’t obligated to share anything especially if the parents didn’t put their money together and brought the toy. Your post is well stated.”
However, there have been a ton of people that disagree with this ideology, like one person that stated,
“I’m baffled by the number of people who agree with this and think this is the gospel. If anything, it seems counterproductive to their social development, once other kids will probably begin to label them as a ‘stingy spoiled brat’ and no one wants to play with them at all”
It all comes down to a matter of opinion and different parenting styles, which vary greatly around the world and within your own city. What’s your stance on this matter?