Monday, January 12, 2015

Fairness Between Siblings

Fair is Not Equal from @The Minimalist Mom - good way of explaining "fair"
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/286330488785206586/
  
     The topic of fairness between siblings came up in conversation today. The mama I was speaking with tried tirelessly to make everything that she could fair between her two children. Her children are grown now and live different lives. This difference, however, is perceived as indicative of the presence of unfairness in life between the two, something the mama has continued to try to correct herself. One individual is seen as having greater "success" in life whereas the other individual is seen as having not been as fortunate. Consequently, the mama continues to focus much of her attention and efforts towards the second child in attempt to make her life as "fair" as the first child's (despite the fact that they're both adults). Unfortunately, as a result of her efforts to ensure perfect fairness, the sibling are often pinned against each other in an endless game of comparison and favoritism. They can't celebrate the joys in the other's life because of the inner cry of, "What about me? That's not fair!" Their relationship struggles through conflicts, and often so does their individual relationships with their mama. It's such an unfortunate situation. The mama concluded by wishing me the best in creating fairness between my children.

     The conversation really got me thinking about fairness between siblings. Honestly, I have no intention of ensuring things are "fair" between my children. I don't see this as a favorable goal in raising my children. I feel like I have greater lessons to teach them than making sure they have exactly what everyone else has. I want my children to learn:

1) Don't look at differences through the lens of comparison. Don't evaluate how good or bad your possessions or situation is based on another's. There will always be someone who has achieved more or done so sooner. If this is your entire focus, then you'll find yourself jealous and bitter. You'll also be unable to see the good in your life or celebrate the good in others' lives.  Always find the good in all situations and celebrate with/for others as much as possible. Think of them before yourself.

2) The "what about me?" cry will not get you anywhere in life. It will only hold you back. You will always struggle in life with this perspective. It's selfishness- a highly unproductive and undesirable quality.

3) Understand that "fair" does not mean "equal." A common saying is, "Fair isn't everyone getting the same thing. Fair is everyone getting what they need in order to be successful."  Each person has different needs for success, and as such to provide perfect sameness would be to limit one's potential for success.

4) Sometimes the feeling of unfairness is really a mask for other feelings. Determine the root of your perception of unfairness, and you may begin to see the situation in a different light.

     I hope I am able to successfully guide my children through this tough topic when it comes up (because it will). It's helpful for me to read articles (linked below), and mentally prepare for how I might approach such situations. It's also helpful for me to learn from others. I think back to the mama I spoke with earlier and consider how she continues to try to make life itself fair between her children. I think of each child and how they have grown up with the understanding that one of them has "won" in life and one has not. My heart is saddened to think of the missed opportunity for all to have embraced differences and join one another in celebrating the joys in each others' lives. That's what it's all about; that's what I want to create for my children, not fairness.

Interesting Reads:
"But it's not fair!" Teach Your Kids How to be "Fair Aware": Four steps to helping your child understand the difference between fair and equal. by: Andrea Nair -

"Fair is Not Equal" by The Minimalist Mom

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