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August 24, 2016

Fair may not feel equal

Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you.
(H. Jackson Brown Jr.)

The term “fair” has been thrown around so much (particularly by children) I think we’ve lost sight of what it really means. To exude fairness is to be without bias or dishonesty, and to be clear and easy to read. It has little to do with equality and everything to do with integrity. But for years, the rallying cry of a child who feels slighted has been, “That’s not fair!” What he really means is, “So and so got more than me.” This is most commonly seen in reference to division of time, material possessions, or sweets.

As parents, we should not be overly concerned with this kind of equality. This is because a fair person weighs each situation as it arises, understanding how context and history and priority inform the current division of resources. With this understanding, everyone getting an equal share of everything all the time, at the same time is not fair, actually.

A few examples:

  • Your 11-year-old should not get the same privileges at the same time as your 13-year-old. Just because Verizon is offering a 2-for-1 phone deal does not mean you should give one kid a phone 2 years before the older one got it.


  • Your 4-year-old daughter should not get the same amount of direct attention as your new baby boy, because she is capable of doing many things on her own. Your new son needs far more of you right now. This obviously doesn’t mean ignore your daughter and her sudden regression (that’s totally normal), but don’t count the hours to perfect equalize the one-on-one time.


  • Finally, and this could be a difficult one to swallow, but bear with me: For those of us in a biological nuclear family, our kids should not get as much of our heart as our spouse. I know I’m crazy and even old-fashioned, but a prioritized marriage is good for kids; prioritizing kids above marriage is not good for anyone.

More on this tomorrow…

Peace begins with pause,


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