When kids say, "no fair!"

Dec 25, 2019

It's the holiday season (so whoopdeedoop, and hickory dock...I can't say that phrase without digressing into the whole Andy Williams' song, sorry not sorry).


ANYWAY, the holidays usually include gifts. If you have more than one child, I'll bet you've given some thought to getting everyone a similar quality and quantity of gifts this year. I was wondering whether I got too much for one kid and not enough for another last night, and it made me think about fairness in general and how it can overshadow so much of parenting.


This isn't just about presents. We tie ourselves in knots to be fair in the rules, the time we give, the money we spend, mediating arguments, extra-curricular activities, and a myriad of other tiny aspects throughout every part of our parenting lives. It's exhausting!!! But moms should be fair, right?


Well, screw that. Any mom with 2 or more kids will tell you it's totally impossible to be fair, and that even when you are, kids don't see it that way. But, for some reason, we still TRY to be fair and feel guilty when things don't seem fair to our kids. We try to explain or justify the reason why one kid gets something different than the other. We worry that we might be playing favorites or hurting our kids by not being totally equal in all ways.


This fight for fairness is not only futile, it's toxic for several reasons:

  • Humans crave to be seen as individual and unique. When you think about it, trying to be equal in all things for our kids is almost dehumanizing! An individualized parenting approach means kids see others get things that they don't, but they also get to receive exactly what they need, when they need it.

  • Life's not fair. The most annoying thing our parents ever said is all too true. Helping our kids learn how to handle the confusing and sometimes frustrating realities of life is far more useful than protecting them in a bubble.

  • It promotes competition and comparison. When you do everything the same and try to keep it all equal, your kids can't help but compare themselves to each other, and constantly check to see how they measure up in relation to each other. And, guess what? You start doing it too!!!

  • One size fits all NEVER WORKS. Your child, your family, your circumstances, and YOU are unique. If you've ever read a parenting book then found yourself struggling to implement the skills you read, you already know - customizing your approach is the ONLY way to make your family work and feel good.


Why do we try so much to be fair? I believe a big reason is because a part of us thinks it's easier. It's easier to do everything the same for each kid, or to do the same as we think others do, than it is to think deeply and differently for our individual family and for each kid.


Tweaking things, changing your mind, staying strong as you do something others think is unfair, reevaluating, going against the grain...that crap is HARD! But, I promise it's a lot harder to try to fit each kid into the same box, defend and justify yourself to everyone, and constantly compare yourself and your kids to everyone else.

It's a lot harder to try to fit each kid into the same box, defend and justify yourself to everyone, and constantly compare yourself and your kids to everyone else.

What if doing right by your child looked different for each parent and each kid? Imagine being super confident when you delivered a consequence, reward, advice or experience that was totally designed just for THAT kid, with no concern that you were being unfair or need to defend yourself.


Show up for your kids in response to each of their needs, and you can feel proud, rather than guilty, when that means being different to each child.


And, even more empowering, give YOURSELF permission to be different, have unique problems, and individual solutions to those problems. You don't need to contort your family into a one-size-fits-all parenting approach and you can get support in figuring out what your perfect parenting looks like. Reach out today and let's get your family on it's own perfect path in 2020.