Many people in today’s world struggle with boundary setting, usually due to how their parents raised them. A lack of boundaries sets children up for a lifetime of relationship problems and poor self-esteem. So, teaching them early in life about establishing defined boundaries is essential. Not only will this bolster their self-worth, but it will also show others how to treat them. Sharing with others is wonderful, but caring for yourself is also essential.
One mom taught her child about boundary setting–and she sparked a heated debate online. Some parents agreed with her approach, while others condemned her for it. We can all learn a valuable lesson from her story, no matter what side you’re on.
Facebook Mom Explains the Importance of Boundary Setting
It all started when Alanya Kolberg brought her son Carson to a nearby park. He had a scheduled playdate with a friend and brought some toys to share. However, according to her Facebook post, things turned unexpectedly when several boys wanted to play, too.
“As soon as we walked in the park, Carson was approached by at least six 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,” Alanya recalls.
“You can tell them no, Carson,” she told him. “Just say no. You don’t have to say anything else.”
However, as soon as Carson declined their request, the boys ran to Alanya, upset that he wasn’t sharing.
Much to their surprise, she told them: “He doesn’t have to share with you. He said no. If he wants to share, he will.”
When the boys’ parents heard what happened, they shot Alanya and Carson some dirty looks. Alanya didn’t back down, though, and shared her perspective on boundary setting in the post.
“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?”
She had a great point, but not everyone commenting on her post agreed.
What Others Had to Say About This Lesson on Boundary Setting
One parent commented: “You don’t want kids asking your kid to share their toys.. Then don’t take toys to a park full of children.”
Another person quipped: “He’s gonna make a lot of new friends.” One parent wondered if Kolberg’s lesson would have a detrimental impact on Carson.
“Will you unwittingly make your offspring the odd one out/selfish or with a total disregard for humanity?” they said.
However, others agreed with Kolberg’s approach to boundary setting. One commenter replied that expecting your child to share creates people-pleasing tendencies and poor boundary setting skills. The poster added that those who disagreed with Kolberg probably disrespect other people’s boundaries.
Another commenter felt that sharing with playmates or friends is okay. However, when it comes to strangers, children should set boundaries, so they’re not taken advantage of.
One mother took a valuable lesson from the story about boundary setting herself. She said she never learned how to say ‘no’ to others, which caused people to walk all over her. So, this proves that teaching children self-respect and limits with others can have impact well into adulthood.
Another commenter, Marissa Obermier, also saw the value in Alanya’s story about sharing. Marissa said she’s trying to teach her daughter that it’s okay to say ‘no’ sometimes.
“Like if she doesn’t want to be hugged or kissed, she can say no. Her body, her choice. I know this was talking about toys, but this is teaching consent,” Marissa said.
Setting Boundaries Isn’t Selfish; It Is a Necessary Lifeskill
Alanya ended the post by saying: “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.
“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.
“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.”
Alanya’s story reminds us that boundary setting doesn’t make us selfish; it’s simply a necessary part of being human. Dr. Tracy Hutchinson, a therapist with over twenty years of clinical experience, explains that personal boundaries “set the basic guidelines of how you want to be treated.”
She added that establishing these guidelines sets the foundation for respectful, caring, healthy relationships. Being assertive and letting people know your needs will help you discern between the toxic and uplifting relationships in your life.
Final Thoughts on Boundary Setting Lesson from Facebook Mom
Not everyone agreed with her perspective when Alanya Kolberg shared her story about boundary setting. She took her son Carson to a park to meet a friend for a playdate. Once there, he quickly felt overwhelmed by a group of boys asking to play with his toys. He didn’t know what to do, so he looked to his mom for help.
After she told him it is okay to say ‘no,’ the boys ran to Alanya to tattle on him. However, she held her ground, even when the other moms at the park glared at them. She wanted to teach her son that he shouldn’t feel obligated to share his toys. Of course, others should respect his decision either way.
Do you agree with how Alanya handled the situation? What would you do as a parent if you were in her shoes? Let us know what you think.