First of all, I hope you all are training your children to not be overly concerned when “life isn’t fair”. When we cater to these bursts of “inequality” by rewarding and promising equal “perks”, we are feeding the selfishness. And that selfishness will turn our darlings into little monsters.
For instance, my middle daughter, age 6, has never been on a sleepover. Her older sister has only this past year been allowed this privilege, and only to her Grammy’s house. We always told 6 yo, that her day would someday come, and in the meantime, she needed to be happy for her sister! Guess what? It was that simple. Sure, I told her we’d have some mommy-daughter time, but it wasn’t anything earth-shattering. I didn’t pay her money or anything for “choosing to be happy”. I didn’t go out of my way and finance a Chuckie Cheese expedition or anything brag-worthy that she could hold up to big sis: “See what you missed out on?”
I think we adults are our own worst enemies in things like this. We want so badly for our children to be fulfilled and not feel left out. None of us want to be the proverbial Jacob, who favorited his son Joseph. Equal treatment is nice (not necessary), and parents should not have favorites…if you need further convincing, read The Blessing by John Trent and Gary Smalley.
But definitely read 1 Corinthians 13 to your children, and show them that God’s love means we’ll be happy, not jealous, for our friends and loved ones when life grants them special blessings. You cannot start too young instilling this!
Last night we decided to bless my 6 year old with the privilege of having a cousin spend the night. My oldest was going to be gone at my mom’s (second slumber party of her life) and dh and I thought it would be fun, since this is Spring Break, to invite one of 6 yo’s favorite cousins over. In trying not to leave any cousins out, it almost turned into a “that isn’t fair” free-for-all. We ended up having two cousins over, and the girls all had a great time…for the most part.
Inevitably, two’s company, three’s a crowd. My six year old got to play peacemaker between her two cousins. Thankfully, she’s used to being “bossed around” (she does, after all, have an older sister!) and she made the best of it. This morning she told me she had the best time ever! (Thank you, Lord!)
One last thing…when hard situations come up–and I hope they do–use them as the great learning curves that they are and emphasize to your child that acting this way only hurts others! Hopefully they’ll remember how awful it felt and resolve to never behave in a similar fashion.
True fulfillment and happiness comes from being able to be content with the life you have. Are we being faithful to teach this, or are we feeding the discontent by making issues where there shouldn’t be any?