We all remember the scene: on a playground or in a classroom, two children struggle over a toy, both yelling that it's theirs until a teacher or parent swoops in to stress the importance of sharing.
This seems like a harmless act but some parents think teaching how to share is total nonsense, with one mom calling B.S. on this parenting standard, explicitly breaking down that sharing is not actually caring.
Alanya Kolberg posted a photo on Facebook Wednesday morning with a lengthy explanation of why her son isn't required to share, explaining it'll teach him to think independently and become a strong adult as a result. "MY CHILD IS NOT REQUIRED TO SHARE WITH YOURS," she wrote.
She went on to write:
“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.”
By the looks of the comments on the post, which has over 60,000 shares and 43,000 reactions, a lot of people agree with her.
Experts concur: kids don't have to share.
While there is nothing wrong with sharing, experts agree that sharing is over-emphasized in parenting.
“We’re so focused on teaching children how to share that they don’t learn to think for themselves,” Dr. Myrna Shure, professor emeritus of Psychology at Drexel University and author of "Thinking Parent, Thinking Child," told ATTN:.
Shure believes teaching a child to think for themselves is vital and, while sharing is good, it’s a tricky subject that often shrugs off ideas of ownership and creation. “If the child makes an effort to make something, isn't it fair for them to say who can have it first?” Shure said.
“I saw the post and think the mom has some interesting points,” Ashley said to ATTN:.
“It is very important to teach your children to share, but they do not have to indiscriminately share with everyone who asks them to share.”
Both Shrure and Ashley agree that telling kids to share can sometimes cause hollow, imitative behavior because children don’t quite understand what it is they’re actually doing.
“They’re often repeating words from their parents,” Shure explained. “He has a right to decide if and when he wants to share.”
Ashley went on to explain why she views sharing as a potential problem: “We have to teach children how to decide with whom to share, how to respectfully decline their request and how to respect themselves and be assertive enough to say, 'No.' Children don’t always have to share simply because they are asked to do so.”
Kolberg’s post has struck a nerve because it gets at teaching children how to understand their wants and needs and the wants and needs of others, aka empathy.
Kim Hopkins, director of outreach & communications for Lives in the Balance, believes parents need to understand and validate the concerns of our children. “Teaching children that they have valid concerns is a very important part of parenting (or educating),” Hopkins said to ATTN:. “A lot of behavior interventions used with kids these days ignore the fact that their concerns are valid... then they, in turn, tend to not take into account the concerns or perspectives of other people.”
Shure takes this a step further. “You want to teach your child to be generous," she said, also suggesting that we teach children dialoguing by getting them to ask and wonder how other children might feel and what consequences come of actions.
But a warning: anti-sharing attitudes come with a caveat.
While sharing should be taken with some salt, the pendulum shouldn’t swing to an extreme.
“Setting boundaries is important, but parents can take it too far,” Ashley explained. “Too much boundary setting can result in a child whom others perceive as selfish and can interrupt the development of relationships.”
Dr. Ashley continued: “The message should not be you don’t have to share because you have a right to say NO; the message needs to be ‘here’s why you can choose not to share in this situation.’”
Check out the mom's full Facebook post below.