New blog about This mom won’t make her kid share toys, and grownups are not happy
Want to rile up parents across the country? Get real on social media about your decision not to force your child to share at the playground. For Alanya Kolberg’s family, “sharing is caring” is out the window in favor of allowing children to decide if they’ll pass their toys around or not.
“MY CHILD IS NOT REQUIRED TO SHARE WITH YOURS,” she announced clearly at the top of a Facebook post on April 19.
The declaration came shortly after an uncomfortable situation with Alanya’s son, Carson. She wrote:
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.”
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.”
That got me some dirty looks from other parents.
Alanya went to to explain, “Here is the thing though:”
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?
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.
Alanya concluded: “In any case, Carson only brought the toys to share with my friend’s little girl, who we were meeting at the park. He only didn’t want to share with the greedy boys because he was excited to surprise her with them.
“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.”
It turns out people have a lot of feelings about sharing, as evidenced by Alanya’s post since being shared over 250,000 times. I personally thought her words made a lot of sense — as a matter of fact I’ve been working hard lately to teach my sons they have a right to say “no” to people (including adults and their teachers) without explanation — but a quick chat about kids sharing toys with my blogging friends surprised me.
The lovely Sabrina Garibian, who is mom to three little ones, commented, “W. t. f.? The unspoken rule is that if you bring a toy to the playground you are bringing it to share. If you’re in your own yard do what you want but don’t bring toys to the playground you aren’t willing to share. UGH.”
My kids are 12 and 10 currently. Perhaps it’s just been too long since I’ve been in the “share your toys” stage and I’ve forgotten the unspoken code?
But my bud Joyce Slaton, whose daughter is close to my kids’ age, also disagreed with Alanya’s take.
“Hoo boy, she is gonna change her tune the minute Carson wants something from another kid,” Joyce wrote. “Our rule was ALWAYS ‘If you take it to the park, other people are going to play with it.’ Now, I wouldn’t take something away from her if she was holding/playing with it, but if she left it on a bench someone else was gonna pick it up, and that was going to have to be okay if we brought it.”
And the point about the sandwich? Joyce pointed out: “Frankly, a toy is not a sandwich — you don’t use it up by playing with it. Even as an adult if a coworker brought something interesting into a meeting, I would expect that everyone would get to touch it. It’s kinda rude to bring things into a shared space and expect everyone to look and not touch.”
Perhaps it’s for the best we’re located all across the country and don’t meet up for playdates?
I still find myself more on Alanya’s side than theirs. Yes, it’s reasonable for a child to ask to borrow a toy, but that doesn’t mean they might not get denied. From my perspective it’s reasonable for the toy owner to make the final call. Though a toy may not get used up like a sandwich, plenty of little treasures get lost, stolen, and broken by rough play.
Teaching kids they can’t take the things they love and enjoy the most out of the house, that only the crap they’re willing to lose can be taken outside and played with, just doesn’t sit right with me.
Obviously though, there’s more than one way to look at this situation.
Images by UnSplash/Umanoide, Daniel Cheung , Markus Spiske