Monday, May 18, 2009

How hard should we as parents try to be FAIR with our children?

I'm sure as with anyone expecting their 4th child, child training is on my heart and mind alot! I have read a ton of books on the subject and should be an expert and have perfectly behaved children. But guess what? I don't! Go figure haha! Because the bible isn't perfectly clear on every issue of childtraining, all I can do is continue to read, learn everything I can, and pray for WISDOM as I go along in this journey. One thing Daniel and I have talked alot about is fairness between siblings. Some parents are so fair it is almost funny to watch them spend down to the exact dollar on each child for christmas, birthdays, and graduations. Many parents say they don't try too hard to make everything fair between their children because they want their children to understand that life isn't fair which certanly makes alot of sense as well. What Daniel and I have observed in OUR particular family though is that when we are not fair it causes our children to dislike eachother and not want to be as good of friends. We also have the example of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis chapter 37 of the tension it caused between Joseph and his brothers when Jacob didn't treat his children fairly. I like what I recently heard a wise mother say " decide together what your goals are for your family and make your decisions based on prayer and what it takes to achieve those goals ". Daniel and I have decided that our goal of helping our children be best friends is more important to us than having them learn from us that life isn't fair. There are many other ways to learn that life isn't fair such as a rained out soccer game or losing a pet. Don't we want them to learn to treat others with fairness? Afterall, how do we adults feel when we aren't being treated fairly in business or in other situations? So for now our conclusion is that we will do everything we can to be fair with our children. We feel that if our children see us doing everything in our power to treat them fairly and expect the same effort (I say "effort" because some children will have more talent in certain area's than others) from each of them, then as they mature they will begin to appreciate our relentless efforts to be fair and be more understanding when a special situation arises where it is simply not possible. I think it is an area that each family should put alot of thought and prayer into. The Lord may lead your family to a completely different conclusion!

*What do you think? Does anyone have any wisdom they would like to share on this topic from personal experience growing up or raising their own children? I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject! I would love to hear not only from moms but also from teens and young adults who consider their siblings to be their closest friends.


Amanda said...

I think, me as a teenager, Mom and Dad always tried to be fair with me and my brothers with spending money with Christmas and birthdays.
Sometimes my grandparents aren't fair with us and my other cousins. That has always bothered me. I like it that my parents have always been fair because it shows that they love us exactly the same.
It also helps us siblings not to fight or argue. :) Other times my parents have tried to be fair is with going to places with friends or doing mroe things. Like as i get older Mom and Dad lets me do more things, but sometimes the boys don't understand. That's when Mom and Dad tells them that when they get older they'll get to more things like me. :) I hope this has helped! ;)

Alexis said...

My mother-in-law gives each of us the same for Christmas. After the gifts are opened, we get envelopes with money in them (I'm talking pennies!) that makes everything even. The first Christmas I spent there, I thought that was the most ridiculous thing I'd ever heard of. My mom always tries to spend the same-ish, and if she does, fine, and if she doesn't, fine.

I've also heard of parents giving their children presents when it's another sibling's birthday because they don't want to be unfair to the child who isn't having the birthday. I can see their point, but I think it's being unfair to the one having the birthday. That's their one day to be recognized apart from all others in the family. Let them have it, and while it may seem unfair to the others, you can remind them that on their birthday, they won't have to share it with anybody else.

My parents weren't able to be "fair" with money every time one of us kids needed something, but my mom was so giving of time, I don't remember feeling deprived that I wasn't getting new shoes like my sister. I remember spending hours on the porch swing with her when I was in third grade. I had chosen a book for a report that ended up being way too hard for me and she gave me her Saturday by helping me read the entire book.

I don't think fairness should ever be judged on how much money we spend on each child, but rather how loved they feel. If one child feels neglected, then we have failed. We should spend time on them and with them.

The Rich Family said...

Thanks you both for giving me your thoughts on this subject! I know what you mean about it being impossible for everything to be fair all the time. For instance when James needs a pair of shoes I don't buy Isaac a pair too just to be fair. I instead remind him when he needs a pair of shoes that we will buy him a pair:-) Thankfully with clothes I still dress my boys alike and their clothes hardley ever last more than one season. If one gets something new to wear then they both get the exact same outfit:-). When they turn about 13 I plan to just quit buying their clothes and they can choose how much of "their" money they want to spend on them, That way I'll never have to worry about them getting jealous of eachother over clothes! This will also teach them to take good care of their clothes and shop clearance racks and Goodwill stores since it will be money they worked for:-).

Amanda, Thanks for sharing! Hearing input from someone still living at home in their teens helps me TREMENDOUSLY. My goal before I have teens is to be able to think the way they do and understand how they feel. Too many parents just can't seem to understand their teens and make choices that drive their teens away from them or provoke them. Thanks for helping me!