Alanya Kolberg's take on sharing has been, well, shared more than 225,000 times at time of writing. In her post, the mom recounts a recent incident involving her son Carson at the park, and asserts that he is not required to share his toy with other kids.
Kolberg writes that, as soon as they got to 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."
That's when the mama told her son he could say "no" to the other kids.
"Of course, as soon as he said no, the boys ran to tattle to me that he was not sharing. I said, 'He doesn't have to share with you. He said no. If he wants to share, he will.'"
Her words earned her dirty looks from other parents. But Kolberg explains her thinking, writing, "If I, an adult, walked into the park eating a sandwich, am I required to share my sandwich with strangers in the park? No!"
She goes on to say, "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?
"The goal is to teach our children how to function as adults," Kolberg continues in her viral post. "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."
Indeed, her message seems to be more about teaching kids to set boundaries than not to share.
Kolberg ends her post by writing, "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."
As a mom of three, I like what Kolberg has to say. I've often thought about how odd it is that we force our kids to share, and yet, as adults, we don't share our stuff readily with others. For instance, do I have to let a mom I don't know use my iPhone at the park? Or try out my lip gloss? Of course not. I also agree that it's vital to set boundaries, but this lesson isn't easily learned; I'm almost 40 and I'm still working on it!
It's worth noting I do want my kids to learn to share with one another in our own house. But beyond that, and in the case of strangers at a park, I'm on Kolberg's side!
Meanwhile, comments to her post were divided. Here's a sample:
"The adults making excuses for kids running up to other kids asking/begging/demanding they share their toys with them, are the problem. Kids are allowed to bring their toys to the park. Kids don't have to share with other kids. Kids shouldn't expect everyone to share everything with them. To think otherwise is wrong."
"My only hope is that he was also taught that other children have boundaries as well. They may say no too if he wants to play with the toy they have at some future time. other than that he doesn't have to share."
"And 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.."
What is your take?
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and soon-to-be mom of 4. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of yoga.