Been having some challenges with my kids and getting them to understand the principal that fair does not always mean equal.
Case in point last week. My son had to spend a few hours in an isolation ward in emergency at the hospital (it’s okay – he’s fine). But during the course of the 6 hour stay he got stuck in an isolation room and poked and prodded by Dr’s and nurses. When he was finished and released, we wanted to reward him with a little something, so I picked up a little Star Wars light sabre for him that he has been eyeing up for the past few weeks. This prompted a “hey, that’s not fair” from his older sister. I tried to explain why it actually was fair, but it seemed to fall on deaf ears.
It works both ways. At 7, my daughter has been doing summer camps this year and having a great time. This has led to some “that’s not fair” resentment from my 4 year old pre-school son.
My kids have this sense that unless everything is exactly equal, things are unfair. But yet, they are different kids – different people with different interests and (at 7 and 4) different abilities. Why would you want things to be exactly equal in those circumstances? Yet somehow, they have this feeling that unless they get exactly the same things and are treated exactly the same, then one is getting more.
It used to drive me nuts when my parents would get me and my brother and sister the exact same thing at Christmas in an attempt to keep things equal, but I understand the temptation to do this now that I have kids of my own and am fighting the “it’s not fair” battle. I made the mistake of snapping at one last week “well, life isn’t fair”. Fortunately, my wife caught me and put a stop to that line of thought.
So, how do you handle the fair, but not equal battle at your house?