“That is sooooooo not fair” wailed my 9 year old from the bathroom. Not really sure what he was wailing about but my swift response was an equally pained cry of “guess what buddy….life’s not fair!” You see I know that my kids get ample amounts of everything. They get ample amounts of love, attention, toys, books, games, clothes, shoes and opportunity. It seems at times however, there can still be some snippet of ‘something’ that is alluding them, but is apparently, rightfully theirs!
In my last post about sibling rivalry, I wrote about the need for school-age children to have everything fair and equal. As a social, political and humanitarian philosophy, well great…..that’s how it ought to be. But in the confines of a 3 bedroom home comprising 6 people, such ideology must be forced to take on a more flexible presence and adapt to the emotional, social and financial constraints of the family environment.
When one child needs a pair of shoes it is simply unreasonable, and not financially desirable, for me to buy all 4 children a new pair of shoes. (It is not uncommon for my boys to have a sudden memory loss concerning the purchase of their own new pair of shoes only weeks previously). It is also not feasible that because one child gets invited to a “playdate” that I have to run around and organise plays for the other children. Likewise it is OK to pay more attention to a sick child, or a child that is simply having a bad day and needing ‘something extra’. It is OK to cook one child’s favourite meal despite the gasps of despair from the jowls of the fussier sibling. We must not let our kids bully us into believing that everything must be fair and equal all of the time. There will be times when someone elses’ needs are simply more pressing than their own.
In a household it is pretty easy to prove that ‘what goes around comes around’. We can intsill in them the notion that their time will come, but it may not necessarily be right now. In the real world, that place where they are shuffled out to fend for themselves, it doesnt always work that way. Life isnt always fair. The guy who works the hardest doesnt always get the promotion. Some people do win the lottery after buying one ticket whilst others who have religiously forked out their pennies for decades remain winless. Some people appear to be afflicted with one setback after another, whilst others seem to waltz through life relatively unscathed. It is for this reason that we must continue to develop in our children the skills and resilient coping strategies to ‘move on’, even when the world seems to be ‘ganging up on them’ and refusing to play fair.
In a family home, it is not just the siblings who children will be comparing their plight, but sometimes they can also be heard bemoaning the extra rights and privileges of the parents, as if it is simply unfair that they are allowed to stay up later, eat more chocolate or never have to do homework! But of course kids do not have equal rights to the parents. They have rights, there is no denying that, but the sooner we let them realise that they do not have the same rights, responsibilities and resources to run their lives, then the sooner they will enter into adolescence with a healthy respect for the world around them.
So next time you are bombarded with moans and wails of the inequality that is eroding your little cherubs existence, then be sure you refuse to enter into a battle of what is and isn’t fair, but rather instill in them an attitude of patience, flexibility and adaptability that will help them develop the strength and resilience required to tackle the unpredictable nature of the world in which they will be immersed.
Do your children complain of unfairness? Do you find it difficult to justify the need for inequality?