Fairness is a concept we start to explore at a very young age. There is no greater lesson about fairness than living with two little girls. The little one constantly wants what the older one has. Not because she’s vindictive or cruel, but because she’s learning possession and sees what brings her older sister joy, and decides to get some of it for herself. The older one has her own struggles, she spent a solid three years not having to share at all. Now she’s in the midst of trial-by-fire. Either she shares, or she doesn’t get to play. I want to raise young ladies who care about the world around them . . . not ones who only think of themselves.
Growing up, I heard the statement “life isn’t fair” a lot, and that little gem has served me well. I thank my parents for teaching me to deal with adversity instead of creating a false sense of security for me. If my parents weren’t being “fair,” I never wondered if it was because they didn’t love me. I was confident they did, but they also allowed me to live in a real world and I was able to learn lessons that shaped the adult I am today.
If we don’t teach our little ones to deal with adversity in a healthy way, and give them the tools to do so, we’re doing them a disservice. A loving home can provide a “soft landing” to learn about disappointment. When said with love, it’s ok to teach our children life isn’t fair.
Things like Christmas gift distribution and time alone with parents, those are big things that I feel deserve to be fairly split. If both of my girls want the pink plate at lunch, well, too bad. If one of them wants to watch Curious George and the other wants to watch Bubble Guppies, one of them has to relent or else the TV stays off. I’ve been known to barter with my children (I am human after all,) but it doesn’t happen often. I’d rather give them the tools they need to handle disappointment than create a life for them that doesn’t mirror reality.
As they grow up, they will encounter mean people. They won’t make the team. Things may not go their way. Things will most certainly be unfair at times. There will be disappointments in life and they will find heartache at some point. As adults, there will be bosses that don’t respect them, and life is likely to deal them a few blows. All of this breaks my heart and I long for a way to protect them forever, but I don’t want them to be surprised by any of this. What a shame it would be to have a college student graduate and expect the world to cut her a “fair” deal just because that’s the way it’s always been for her. Unfortunately, this seems to be the case more and more these days.
Protecting your kids and ensuring they’re treated fairly are two different things. I’ll do anything to make sure my little girls are safe, but giving them a false reality that life is fair, well, that’s not fair to them. I have the opportunity to shape young ladies who can meet adversity and disappointment head on. Instead of crying, screaming, and pitching a fit, they can be equipped with the tools needed to recognize their feelings of disappointment, accept a loss, pick themselves up and keep striving . . . finding joy in life itself, rather than the immediate circumstances.
How do you handle fairness issues at home? Do you find it difficult to allow your children to experience small disappointments?