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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fair's Fair

Many moons ago, I worked with a guy who was rather successful business wise, thanks to his hard work over many years. He had a comfortable life, and bless him, didn't forget his mother. He made sure she had a car, a place to call home and her bills were paid on time. All provided to her by him.

Then she died, and she left a majority of her estate to my colleague's brother. Why? Well, because my colleague's brother had not quite reached the same level of success that he had. He had drifted through life, never really finding his 'thing', and his mother worried about him. As my colleague explained to me, "She would have felt he needed the money more than I did, because she probably figured I already had what I needed. Even though it was my money she left him. It upsets me, because I worked hard for that money."

You can understand his frustration, right? He graciously shared his earnings with a loved one who then passed it on to someone else who didn't do anything to deserve it. Frustrating, to say the least.

If there's one thing I'm always concerned about, it's whether I'm treating my children fairly.

Although the following situation is not the same, the concept is.

Apart from the odd occasion, the 7yr old is, for the most part, a fairly 'easy' child. He's quite relaxed and cruises through life a bit, not worrying about much. Therefore, he doesn't often require any 'additional' attention that is sometimes given to his brothers. He doesn't complain much. He's far more compliant about things than his brothers are. Therefore, I believe we sometimes (unintentionally) give him less.

For example, say I had three hot cross buns, and one of them was substantially smaller than the others. To be honest, I'd probably give it to the 7yr old, because I know that: a) if the 4yr old notices his is smaller, he'll more than likely throw a HUGE tantrum; b) the 9yr old would complain he needs more food because he's "bigger", and generally has a larger appetite; and c) it's highly unlikely the 7yr old would notice anyway. Or care too much.

But does that make it ok that he misses out? No. Not at all.

I am constantly reminding myself to reward the 7yr old with praise for his good behaviour. To let him decide what tv show he and his brothers will watch. To give him the first choice of the hot cross buns.

After all, it's only fair.

If you have kids, do you struggle to play fair with them? Is there one child that gets less because they don't demand more? How do you make sure all your kids get a fair deal? Were you treated fairly as a kid?


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marissawritesablog.com said...

I have a bit of 'middle child' syndrome. I adore my family but even at 32 I sometimes feel like I'm left out. As a result I am paranoid that when I have my 2nd baby I'll do the same to her and I really don't want to. But at the end of the day, what counts is that you do your best and love them :)

Meredith @ thinkthinks said...

I have two kids who have such different personalities, it often feels like I am treating them really differently. My daughter (almost 13) is quite argumentative - always has been. She always has to get the last word in, so I have to be quite firm with her sometimes. Her brother on the other hand is mostly fairly easygoing, but goes to pieces at the smallest rebuke, so I have learned to tread more gently with him. My daughter has called me on it on occasion, so I do need to be careful that they don't feel that one is being treated more/less fairly than the other.

Corinne – Daze of My Life said...

My parents were fair to the extreme. Even now, if I get a gift from my mother or father for birthday or Christmas I can be sure that my brothers would have a gift to the exact same dollar value.

If they do something for one of us, they always make sure that the others get exactly the same. During our teen years my middle brother and I went away overseas with my dad, many years later my eldest brother commented that he didn't go on a similar trip, so at 39 years of age my dad took him on a trip overseas, just the two of them.

It can be tough, but I'm always mindful that I treat my kids fairly. My youngest daughter is much more demanding than the eldest and sometimes I want to give in for an easy life, but I think I'd be doing both of them a disservice if I did. The eldest needs to feel that things are fair, the youngest needs to realise that she can't always get what she wants.

Wow, that was an essay reply, sorry!

Miss Pink said...

Story of my life!
Serious. Bluey is a VERY easy going, and independant child, and he often goes out of his way to help me out which sometimes includes cleaning up his brothers mess!
Is it fair? No. No no no. Does it pull at my guilt strings? Yes. Do you think i can get away with it by saying Greenie only just turned two?
Please say yes.

It's hard when there is only one of you and more of your kids. I try to spend that extra special time with Bluey but Greenie gets upset, and it just makes that time less enjoyable for both of us because Bluey wants to involve his brother and i'm frustrated that i feel like i'm failing at this thing.

ClaireyH said...

I am the middle child. I am Mr 7. He does notice, he does care, he just can't be bothered with the whinging that comes from the others and prefers the easy option.

He will make you suffer in ten years time instead!

sarsm said...

I'm the eldest child and my siblings are 10 and 12 years younger than me. In your scenario my mum would have only bought two buns and I wouldn't have had a crumb.

I have no bad feeling towards my brother and sister for this but I do, naturally, towards my mother. I also have an issue with fairness with regard to my own children.

With four children it is very difficult to share evenly attention or money. In both situations priority of who needs something more becomes the key. I try to resolve this by talking to each of the children individually, and make sure I'm fulfilling as many needs as I can. Of course, I miss things at times.

Probably in your scenario I would have given the 7yo the biggest bun and then pointed out why before the others had the opportunity to complain.

Mrs M said...

I treat my daughter differently to my son; but that's because she behaves differently. When my son feels he gets 'picked on' I tell him that he gets treated according to his behaviour and it is not dependent on what is happening with my daughter.

Love & stuff
Mrs M

Zoey @ Good Goog said...

I haven't had to deal with this (yet!) as #2 is still on their way, but it's a pretty difficult situation at the best of times. Children aren't identical to one another and often need different things and it can be easy for them to see different as unequal.

In general I would fall into the easy category as a child - and my brother probably needed more attention. But I can't say I ever resented the attention - if anything I was just as likely to be giving him that little bit extra attention as well.

Ðéví said...

Praise is worth SO much.

My Bugalicious is an only child (and quite aware that she is a little spoilt, Verucca Darling) so I'll go with my childhood.

Marmie was/is excruciatingly fair. And she even considered how vastly different our personalities were while being ever so balanced.

She now applies that trait to her two granddaughters - one from each of us!

SOL's view said...

I tried. So hard. But #2 is so much more demanding (even at age 18) than #1 (who is 25). #1 was easy going and doesn't require the same amount of attention that #2 seems to need. They are completely different personality wise and required two completely different parenting styles.

I try to be fair in the material department and give them both the same.

#1 doesn't see it that way though, and is insanely jealous.

I don't think I will ever get a win in the fair treatment department!

12ontheinside said...

I resent the fact that just because I didn't cause as many problems I feel I missed out on attention as a child. Even as an adult - my brother and sister have both been given money enough for a deposit on a house. I didn't get any - because "I didn't need it". I get punished because I worked damned hard while they frittered away their money. I'm about to have my first baby - don't think I'll have another but if I do, I will be making sure to treat them fairly.