Fair is Not
the Same as Equal.
In our efforts to try to be the better parents, we often fail to consider our rationale for the things we do with and for our kids. We become short distance sprinters instead of long distance runners.
One of our tasks as parents it to prepare our kids for the long haul: LIFE. That means we have to look beyond the now of the moment or the days (short distance sprinter) and look down the road to where we want our kids to be when they hit 50 (long distance runner). When they are no longer in our care or under our roof or authority, they should be equipped to face life in the real world. How should a parent equip his child for reality?
Equal is Not Reality
What is reality? Is there a real world out there my kid will need to face? Are there things he will face in his job, his family, with his neighbors, and in his community that I should help him prepare for? Local, national, and world events will affect him – so how can I help him prepare? What are the things we can do today to ensure that he will have what it takes to face the challenges in his future?
- Make certain that in his world, things are not fair. He needs to learn this, because someday, someone else might get that job promotion when he’s more qualified. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have your kids take turns for chores or opportunities in your home in order to be “fair”. It does mean you won’t try to balance everything else completely in his world because it just can’t be done.
- Don’t compensate for restrictions he merits. Refuse to take him to to the skating rink when he lost out on the school field trip for poor behavior. He needs to experience this because in the real world, there are consequences for poor performance and behavior. “Making it up” to him can’t ever be done anyhow, so don’t even try. He will still remember that he lost the privilege, and getting to go anyhow doesn’t make up for the truth of his loss. Don’t think that the entire time this is “being made up to him”, he will forget the truth. He won’t, and you can’t make it up because it is truly lost. For the moment, he might seem to feel better about himself, but deep inside he knows he doesn’t deserve this.
- Ensure that he doesn’t get duplicate toys that his siblings get, or buy him a pair of his own glasses when his sibling gets new glasses and he really doesn’t need any. If another sibling needs a new backpack, he doesn’t get one unless he really needs it. Why should he get one just because a sibling does? He needs to realize that life is not all about him or about being equal with his siblings or peers. It doesn’t happen in real jobs, so it shouldn’t happen at home.
- When an item on the menu is not your child’s favorite, don’t take another food so he can have “something he likes”. He can learn to go without or sample the food – and neither of those choices will damage him for life. Catering to him will harm him more than being hungry for one meal.
Secure Kids Don’t Need Things to be Equal
In the moment of a child feeling left-out or unloved, we give in and try to make things even. ‘Trouble is, things cannot really become even, no matter how hard we try. We spend our time and energy trying to make certain that our kids feel loved and important by finagling things to make them fair and equal. You know what it really does to them? If makes them feel more insecure because they know it ought not be this way. This is to our discredit and to their disadvantage.
A secure child is a happy child. A secure child is one who knows and understands that there is no such thing as equal when it comes to things about life. A secure child doesn’t have to have things be equal for him to feel safe, secure, and loved.
What are you doing to help your child feel secure instead of making certain all things are equal?