“Fair” is a 4 letter word that normally means “You let Junior do it” or “It’s not my turn”, or “All the other kids are doing it”, or “How come he got 2 donuts and I only got one” or ……… I’m sure that you are starting to get the picture. In the minds of our children, “Fair” normally means that a grave injustice has been committed against them. When my oldest was born the doctor said “I hope she’s tall with those big feet.” WHAT!!!!!! My perfect baby has big feet –SMH. He was right and those feet grew a size every six months. As a result, I was always buying her new shoes. My youngest would always ask the same question, “Am I getting new shoes too?’ My answer would always be the same “Do you NEED new shoes?” Of course, she would always respond with “That’s not “&%$#.”
Parents, fair treatment does not mean equal treatment. Don’t feel obligated to do for all what you do for one. But, take specific steps to ensure that you provide experiences that meet everyone’s needs in an equitable fashion. Sometimes being fair is not “&%$#.”
A special thanks to my cousin Claudia for inspiring this post.
How do children process fair vs need, vs. want vs. gotta have vs, you don’t love me as much? This is easier said than done in my opinion. When you have a melded family and you try to be fair and proportionately equal, the perception is that you are exhibiting favoritism. In addition, understanding “age appropriateness” is also quite difficult to manage. “Johnny, you do not need a computer or IPad. You are too young.” Do you recommend sitting with your kids and talking about it? Jane needs shoes this month Johnny. Next month we’ll get or do something special with you,” type of conversation. Or, rotate the goodies so each has something to look forward to or enable them to fulfill their individual needs by providing them with an allowance which encourages saving to get what they want/need. Your thoughts Dr. J?
I think that my approach to “Fair vs. Equal” is very simple. I use their words against them You know how they are always saying “I’m not like him, I’m my own person.” Well, then don’t ask me to treat you like him/her!!!!!!!!! You may not be the most popular parent, but you will provide equality in a fair manner. They will begin to expect nothing less.