Literally March 3, 2014

A few weeks ago, I was trying to explain to my son that I try to give all of my children what they need, even though they don’t get everything the same, so what I view as “fair” might not look fair to them. There are even times when things are totally “unfair” because I need other kids to sacrifice in order to provide a special situation for one child at one time, but that it will all even out eventually, hopefully. This was a hard conversation, so I went into metaphor mode. I told him that if we went out to breakfast and one child got a cheese omelette with bacon and another child got a belgian waffle, that would be different, but fair. Then, if I only had enough money for the third child to have a bowl of cold cereal, that would seem unfair. I might ask the first to do without the bacon and then they could all have omelettes, or I might tell the cereal child that she would get a turn to choose another time, or it might just look unfair because she might have been eating sweets at a birthday party the night before and only want the cereal.

Obviously, it was convoluted and not that helpful, but he was nodding and seemed to understand what I was saying.

Then last night he asked, “Hey, mom, remember how you told me about going out to breakfast and Peter was going to have eggs and I was going to have a Belgian waffle, but Holly was only going to have cereal? When are we doing that?”

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  • Katrina

    That is hilarious, what a funny conversation! I love how we sometimes try to have these great philosophical or metaphorical conversations with our kids, and they interpret them in their own way. I liked your metaphor, made complete sense to me 🙂

  • Bethany S.

    One of the things that has stuck with me from my EDU in college days was a statement a professor in a class one time, when discussing “exceptional” children (on both ends of the spectrum). He said:

    “Fair does not mean equal. It means what it is in the best interest of that particular child at that particular time.”

    This has become mantra with my own children. I think it applies to everyone, including societal groups and society as a whole. Which is why I say I’d rather have justice than equality, and they’re not the same thing.

  • LOL! This is a hard conversation and one we have often with our children. My oldest two children have very different gifts and interests, and so it is easier to talk about these things and use those two as an example for our younger ones. I will say yes to an intense travel sports experience for one, and yes to an intense show experience for another, but not vice versa. The younger kids already see that and know we will say yes to an opportunity for them that makes sense for their particular skills, needs, and our family situation. I think it is important to keep an open dialogue about these things with the kids, otherwise they can start getting resentful and feel decisions are unfair to them. What a reminder to me though that even though all my children have the same parents, their interests and skills are also so different!