Alanya Kolberg doesn't care if you think sharing is caring. For the Missouri mom, there's a valuable lesson in teaching kids not to share.
Kolberg was recently at the park with her son Carson, who brought his toys to surprise the daughter of Kolberg's friend. But immediately, strangers came up to him and wanted to play with his toys.
"Carson was approached by at least six boys, all at once demanding that he share his Transformer, 'Minecraft' figure and truck," the mom wrote on Facebook. "He was visibly overwhelmed and clutched them to his chest as the boys reached for them. He looked at me."
Often parents will chime in and tell their kids to, "Be nice and share your toys." Instead, Kolberg told her son, "You can tell them no, Carson. Just say no. You don't have to say anything else."
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Then when the boys ran to Kolberg to tattle on Carson, the mom stood her ground and told them, "He doesn't have to share with you. He said no. If he wants to share, he will."
This prompted dirty looks from other parents.
"Traditional sharing expects young kids to give up something the instant someone else demands. Yet we don’t do this ourselves," writes Heather Shumaker, author of "It’s OK Not to Share."
Kolberg's reasoning was similar. She argued that if she walked into the park eating a sandwich, she wouldn't be required to share her sandwich with strangers in the park. On top of that, no well-mannered adult stranger would help themselves to her sandwich and get angry if she denied them.
"So really, while you're giving me dirty looks, presumably thinking my son and I are rude," she writes to the parents, "whose manners are lacking here? The person reluctant to give his three toys away to six strangers, or the six 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. 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."
Her decision resurfaced a debate on various parenting philosophies on sharing.
Many agreed with Kolberg, praising her for "setting boundaries" and raising kids who aren't "doormats or freeloaders."
"The parents might say rude, but when are these life lessons taught? You can't say no in school. You cant say no at home with parents or siblings ... when do they learn to use their voice to say no?" writes on commenter.
"Why make your child give up something that they don't want to? It's not selfish to say no when you want to say no. ... I wish I would've learned to say no at a young age and wouldn't be almost 30 learning that it's OK to do so. I'm nice and will share, WHEN I WANT TO!" writes another.
But other parents disagree with Kolberg's philosophy, calling it "counterproductive" and "selfish."
"I'm teaching my son to share!! No matter what!!!" one mom writes. "Yes, if I had a sandwich and someone even a stranger wanted it, I would give it to them!! These are material items people are arguing over. I'm sorry but nothing material is worth a fight. I will share everything and anything I can. So will my child."
"This article is ridiculous because children already know how to say no. Teaching them to share is what they need to be (taught) because no comes easy for them as it is," another argues, also adding that it's important to teach kids to give to others less fortunate.
Perhaps the way to go lies somewhere in the middle.
"I agree with the OP in this instance. Why should her child share with strangers at the park if he doesn't want to? I could see sharing with strangers in a different setting, like daycare, or sharing with your cousins when they come over to play, but everything doesn't have to be shared. Those kids aren't entitled to her son's toys."
"Initially I thought it was selfish, but to each his own. Of course, there aren't enough toys to share with the group. There should be a healthy balance to ensure kids are socially skilled. But, there's nothing wrong with sharing with other kids. I think there are valuable lessons in those interactions."
Parents also take issue with her use of "snowflake" in the post, when Kolberg ends her rant saying, "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."
Those upset say the term is loaded and used in an attempt to shame kids for being fragile or wanting what is perceived to be special treatment. Name-calling any child, they argue, is wrong and demeaning and belittles children for being children.
Somehow Kolberg's post managed to turn another idiom about sharing on its head. Apparently, when it comes to social media, a problem shared isn't a problem halved.