Life Is Not Fair

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?

12 thoughts on “Life Is Not Fair”

  1. I have always tried my best to not favor one of my boys over the other. They are so very different that it isn’t hard at all, at times, to do.

    My boys do have sleepovers with their grandparents and one friend from church. I am good friends with his parents and their little guy happens to be over here today and spending the night. I do enjoy the fun.

  2. Hi Mary I homeschooled for 2.5 years before I went to uni
    I have always tried not to favour any of my children over any of the others
    Its been seen as favouring though as Billy has to have extra 1 on 1 work due to his dyspraxia and dyslexia and Now Im finding that sometimes it can be seen that Daniel gets more 1 on 1 but its because hes a toddler and needs more care. I tell my kids the reasons why I have to spend more time with either of them and then try to spend a bit more time with that child.

  3. I battle this on a daily/hourly basis! And mostly it’s not about privileges, but about punishment. My 12 year old and 10 year old thinks I should treat/discipline my 4 year old the way I do them. They can’t see that a 4 year old and a 12 year old has very different maturity levels.

    What makes things worse is my 12 yr old has a in breed justice meeter, and I don’t know how to help him turn it off and just enjoy life!!!

  4. I was praying for you last night, Mary! Great blog on this topic.

    I must admit…I have zero tolerance for the “that’s not fair” statements and pretty strict discipline…usually work around the house or in the yard when it is spoken.

    Life IS NOT fair and it is really unfair to our children to give them the expectation that it is. Only God is ‘fair’ and just. My…if you have more than one child…you could really wear yourself out trying to keep everything equal and ‘fair’! :)

  5. Lots of good comments!

    So was your sleepover a success, Leticia? :) Ours was, I just obsess too much. It was a good reaffirmation to me that I need to be extra vigilant in protecting against discontentment in my girls!

    I also learned from this whole slumber party experience, that inviting more than one child at a time is just a bad idea. For this family anyway! Maybe when the girls are older…”two’s company, three’s a crowd”

    Thanks for the prayers, Deborah! You’re right it’s not worth it trying to keep everything fair…the kids have to know you love them w/o all the rigmarole over fairness. The sad thing is, it doesn’t take much encouragement at all from the parent to sprout those seeds of resentment. Gotta nip ’em in the bud!

    Gina, God bless on getting that boy to relax and enjoy life! I’m praying already about the pre-teen/teen years! May God have mercy on us all!

    Jen, that’s what I do too, but without explaining. My girls know I’ll be there when they need me. So far they’ve seemed to understand and not resent the fact that toddler needs so much of me. Sounds like you’re doing a great job with so many balls to juggle. Have you found a good reading/spelling program to help with the dyslexia?

  6. yes agree, I think we also need to teach our children that life in general isn’t fair, we aren’t doing them any favours by catering to them and having the attitude that they can have anything they want. Good post btw :-)

  7. Great post Mary! It’s a battle we have here with our two year old and one year old already. I try to be fair because I remember some instances where my parents favored my sister, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Now I can look back and say that my own parents did the best they could, and I hope my kids think the same thing someday.

  8. Loved your post, honey. And when the ‘unfair’ accusations are over for now, the moment will come when you can remind them that God is always fair and He uses these hard times (sibling rivalry and the like)to help them be like Jesus who suffered unjustly so many times. Pride rears its ugly head in each of us and the need to be important to your parent (a very real need) can cause a child to be judge and jury in watching you with your other children. One question we need to answer is “How do I help my child to be thankful in even this situation?” and “How to I help him to instantly forgive his sibling AND his parent and to pray for them, asking God to give them His love for the object of their concern?” You know, the concepts in “Lies Women Believe” might be ideas for inculcating in our children. What do you think? If we could just teach our children to pray for each other when they see a brother or sister being treated more fairly than themselves…. You suppose that might be one reason God told us to pray one for another?

  9. I’ve only had to deal with this tangentially– I have a mother in law that has wanted my kids to stay with her (over an hour and a half away) since they were practically born and we aren’t comfortable enough with that yet.

    Yes, it’s hard to be “fair” and also let our children know that not everyone is going to get what they want when they want it. But it’s important!

  10. Amy, thanks!

    Georgiana, we do the best we can! I definitely don’t want to favor one over the other, can’t imagine doing so honestly! I can see how children could let their “imaginations” work overtime on that one though!

    Mom, love your idea of re-reading the Lies Women Believe with child training in mind! I’ll have to do that!

    MIn, your day is coming! We didn’t deal with overnights till this past year…so far, they’ve really been good. I have nothing to complain about.

    That said, I sure appreciate having you all to vent to!

  11. Mary we have been blessed with a private tutor that works with Billy once a week. She gives us homework to during the week. We are not only blessed because she is really good but because without a family trust provided by Billy paternal Grandfather we couldnt afford to see her.

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