Don’t look at me like I’m crazy — I said, what I said #neneleakesvoice.

I know it sounds odd, but hear me out. My 5 year old Charlie is the queen of sharing. She doesn’t have to be told to do it, it’s just her nature — she will give her brother the last morsel of food on her plate, even though his plate is still full.

However, one day she was wearing her favorite hat, and her 2-year-old brother had on a hat as well. And, if you’ve ever met a 2-year-old, you know what happened next … he wanted her hat. She looked at me with tears almost in her eyes, pleading without saying a word, ‘mommy, do I have to give him my hat,’ I could hear her inner-voice crying out. And without a beat I told her, “Charlie, you can say no, it’s ok.” She looked relieved, and with the confidence of a 30-year-old, Charlie used her voice and shot her brother’s unreasonable request down. I was proud!

For girls, especially Black girls, we are often taught (consciously and subconsciously) that saying no makes us bad or unreasonable or simply, difficult. But, why would I ever want my daughter to say yes to an unnecessary request that only puts her in a place of unnecessary sacrifice? As important as it is to teach our young girls that serving others/their community is imperative, we must also teach them that they can’t pour from an empty well; self-care is equally important.

In addition, “NO” should absolutely be a word young girls are comfortable saying with confidence and withOUT explanation. They should not be made to feel bad about setting boundaries and protecting themselves.

So, no, I don’t make my kids share. However, I do encourage it with my little boy. It’s not as innate to him as it is to his older sister, but he is getting better. The same policy is still in place, though — don’t give more than you can, set boundaries and be respectful.