I’ve got to switch subject gears. I’m focusing on my most important job today, Mom. This week I have encountered a few articles on the Internet. Some I agreed with, others I did not, but all of which reminded me that we world is in turmoil. There are some really serious things going on right now in Nepal and in Baltimore, but today I wanted to focus a little more minutely. Today I wanted to talk about my house specifically. Apply it as you wish.
In the last few months, and thanks to a suggestion from a friend of the family, three words have become taboo in our home: “That’s Not Fair.” Oh, we have all heard those words, especially if you are a parent to a speaking child. We have probably even muttered them a time or two. They can be used when someone got more milk than someone else. They can be used when someone struck out in the baseball game. They can be used when someone got the iPad first. They can be used all of the time. We LOVE these words. We use them all of the time.
We’ve all heard the adage, “Life’s not fair,” and it’s true. It’s not. Bad things happen to good people. Things happen that shouldn’t. Extenuating circumstances can alter one’s life for seemingly no reason at all. It sucks. But, what can we do about it? Really? Not much. I can spend my time pouring milk evenly, and counting minutes to make sure everything is shared evenly, but what’s the point? Is the rest of the boys’ lives going to be like this. Nope. Will their bosses make sure they have the same amount of work as everyone else? Will their teachers make sure that if they have homework everyone else does too? Will restaurants count out the perfect amount of fries on everyone’s plates to make sure they all get ten. Absolutely not. So, why should I?
In a conversation with my sister not too long ago she relayed this idea to me, and I latched on to it immediately. My kids LOVE the phrase “That’s not fair.” Love IT! So, I outlawed it. Anyone who uses the phrase faces a punishment. I spoke with my kids about why this was outlawed in our home. We discussed the reasons we had for not allowing this phrase to fill up their vocabulary. They may not get it now, but one day they will.
Life is not fair
Yeah, I have mentioned this before, but it’s worth mentioning again. It’s not. Things are going to happen that don’t make any sense. Nothing in this world is perfectly even. Some people face hardship after hardship, for apparently no reason at all. Athletic ability comes naturally to some, while others have the ability to make an A on a test without ever opening a book. Accidents will happen and illnesses will come whether you do your best to prevent them or not. My youngest son has food allergies. He can’t have ice cream or cheese, for crying out loud! That’s certainly not fair. Is it the hand he was dealt? Yep. We deal with it, and try to find coconut ice cream whenever we can! I try to explain to my children that in this life some people have more than others. Maybe they worked hard for it, and maybe they didn’t, but it is what it is. Some children were born into horrible situations in life, but they still have the same abilities and choices as everyone else. I explain that no matter what, they have the ability to make anything they want to out of their lives. It’s not about fairness. It’s about choices.
No One is Entitled
No one in this world is entitled to anything. Just because someone else has something, doesn’t mean you get to have it too. Material possessions or jobs, you have the right to nothing in this world. I try to teach my children that if you want something, you have to work for it. My oldest son struggles with coordination and athletic prowess. He watches boys on his baseball team hit home runs and catch pop flies with ease, and he gets frustrated. We discuss with him that he has the ability to do those things, he’s just going to have to work harder than the other boys. My husband and I do our best to provide a good life for the boys, but we also explain that we work hard to be able to provide them with the opportunities they have been given. Do we give them treats and rewards and presents? Sure. But we discuss that these things are just that, not something we are required to give them. They have to do their part to be a productive member of this family and this world. If there is something they want out of this life, they have to buckle down and figure out a way to make it happen.
Life is not as bad as you would think
On the other side of this fairness coin is the fact that life is what you make it. The boys have a pretty good life. There is not much they are in need of. It’s easy for us, as parents, to indulge them. So, at our house we try to take some time to talk to the boys about how lucky they are, and what we can do to help those who do not have to luxuries in life that we do. No, you are not going to have an iPhone at 8 years old or an iPad at 6 years old, but you will have the ability to earn those things when the time is right. What about the children who cant even afford books to read before bed, or food to eat, or shoes so they can go to school? You, my boys, are entitled to nothing, but to help these people.
I know that when my kids take a step back from the life they want, they will see the life that is around them. They will see they are not the center of the world, but merely a person who has a responsibility in this world. So, my children are not allowed to say “That’s not fair,” in my house. I want them to know that while they are the center of MY world, they are not the center of THE world. I want them to know that everything is possible with a little hard work. I want them to know that they have a duty in this world. And I want them to know that while life is not fair, it can be anything they want it to be with a little determination and perseverance.