Jump to content

Life’s not fair. Should we teach our kids to suck it up?


  • Please log in to reply
10 replies to this topic

#1 Kylie Orr

Posted 05 January 2012 - 11:14 AM

I’m ten years old standing solo on my trampoline (without a net) in my backyard belting out the words (resoundingly off-key) to “What about me” (the original Moving Pictures version) with such melodrama I could almost invoke tears.

C’mon, you remember…

Well there's a pretty girl serving at the counter of the corner shop
She's been waiting back there, waiting for her dreams
Her dreams walk in and out they never stop
Well she's not too proud to cry out loud
She runs to the street and she screams

And the big chorus…

What about me, it isn't fair
I've had enough now i want my share
Can't you see i wanna live
But you just take more than you give


And for full theatrical effect…

So take a step back and see the little people
They may be young but they're the ones
That make the big people big (*this was my favourite line)
So listen, as they whisper
What about me


I couldn’t hold a tune to save myself but it was the release of the words that I wanted. The venting about life and how unfair it all was. I cannot actually recall the source of the unfairness but in a family of four children, there was bound to be some moment in time where my observations were that things were imbalanced.

As an adult, I reflect on this time and find it somewhat baffling and amusing. My mum is the Queen of Fair. She used to serve tinned cherries and count them out because she knew we’d spit the pips into our bowls and compare notes. What she offered one child she offered the others – food, gifts, help, time, love. My overall perception is that things were incredibly fair in my home.

As a result, I like things to be fair. That could be personality, upbringing, or a combination of the two. I don’t function particularly rationally when life throws curve balls that illuminate the unfairness of the world. I have a honed social justice gene that fires a spark inside me, which ultimately is ignited by unfairness.

Clichés spout that life’s not fair, but I have always disputed that palaver. What we can control, we can at least attempt to make fair.

Now I’m a parent, I realise when it comes to children fairness is a tricky one. Christmas can be a time that highlights issues of inequality. Not just within our immediate family but amongst friends, neighbours and the wider community. How many of us ensured our children had equal value of presents, or the same number of gifts to unwrap so it didn’t look like one received more than another?

As our children grow, do we adhere to the same rules for subsequent children as we did for the first, out of fairness, or do we introduce some flexibility as we age, and mature and reason what is worth arguing about? How does that sit with the firstborn who was hit with the rule stick? How do we explain away the differences in parenting between friends - some stricter, some more lenient, when we hear the inevitable cry of "that's not fair"? Is it simply: their family, their rules?

More complicated than that is analysing the needs of our children. Some children require more attention, guidance, discipline, cuddles. Is that fair? No, but it is reality. It is almost impossible to equally dish out time between our children when there is a new baby, or a special needs child, or an ill child.

No one wants to breed resentment in a family but it’s worth teaching our children that life isn’t fair. Bad things happen to good people; we don’t always win even when we try our hardest; deserving something because we are good and that would be the fair thing is not the way the world works. Harsh but valuable life lessons that will help build resilience (ahh, one of those words schools love to promote!). To balance that, for me, it is important to single out the values that are worth fighting for. I don’t want my children to shrug off something that is not fair because “that’s life” if it is something they truly believe in.

Accepting that life is not fair, sorting out when to challenge this and when to make peace with it are skills I need to teach myself, so I can hand them onto my children!

How do you handle the unfairness in life? Do you teach your children that life isn’t fair? What song did you stand on your trampoline and sing with gusto!?

Kylie

P.S. Happy New Year!

#2 Sasha Jensen

Posted 05 January 2012 - 11:32 AM

I agree that children need to understand that they can't control everything in the world. They also need to learn that other people can be mean for no apparent reason; that sometimes they will just get some bad luck; yes, that 'life isn't fair'.

But how can they judge what is and isn't fair unless they are taught this value at home? They need to know that being fair is a good thing, that natural justice should prevail wherever possible. I don't believe that creating unfair situations on purpose for children to learn that 'life isn't fair' will teach them anything. Maybe all that they learn will be that the people they love and trust the most, their parents, seem to make arbitrary decisions without any consideration for the feelings of their children.

Perhaps the emphasis should be put on teaching stoicism in children - not the 'stiff upper lip' cliche, but true stoicism: learning to accept the things that they do not have the power to change, and working on trying to change the things they can.

#3 threetimesblessed

Posted 05 January 2012 - 12:11 PM

I teach my children to be thankful for everything we do have and empathy towards others.
I think modelling fairness as your mother did, enforces the value of equity.

As an adult I try to live by the saying ~ Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can and Wisdom to know the difference. Not easy to do at times! But when faced with a 'life isn't fair' moment, thinking is there something I can do to change the situation or do I just let it go.

I am a teacher, but I think teaching resilience really is the key. I see 5 year olds with more resilience than some of the 20 something year old teachers I supervise! People who crumble when life does throw that curve ball, who are unable to suck it up and move on.

World events often highlight the unfairness of life and are opportunities to explain to our children how sad/unfair/horrific situations can be. Eg. The QLD floods come to mind where we saw such devastation, loss of life and property, an unfair random act of nature but were also presented with the amazing resilient spirit of the people and the community support in helping these people re-build.


#4 tashl

Posted 06 January 2012 - 08:45 AM

I teach my children that it doesn't matter whether life is fair or not. It is impossible to make all things in the world fair because there are so many things that happen beyond human control. Our happiness can't depend on whether these things happen or not.
I grew up in a household where my sister and I would measure the amount of drink in our glasses etc to make sure each had their equal share. I have taught my children that this is a petty waste of time. In the great scheme of things these things are not important. If I am out shopping and I see something nice for one of my kids I don't then go hunting for something for my other child. I emphasise to my kids that they are each their own person and as such are treated differently, but what will always remain the same is the amount of love I have for them. Neither is loved more or less than the other.
I don't want my children to measure the amount of love we have for them by the things they are given.  And I don't want them to base their happiness on the amount of fairness they have in life.


#5 bagelbagel81

Posted 06 January 2012 - 09:06 AM

QUOTE (tashl @ 06/01/2012, 09:45 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I teach my children that it doesn't matter whether life is fair or not. It is impossible to make all things in the world fair because there are so many things that happen beyond human control. Our happiness can't depend on whether these things happen or not.
I grew up in a household where my sister and I would measure the amount of drink in our glasses etc to make sure each had their equal share. I have taught my children that this is a petty waste of time. In the great scheme of things these things are not important. If I am out shopping and I see something nice for one of my kids I don't then go hunting for something for my other child. I emphasise to my kids that they are each their own person and as such are treated differently, but what will always remain the same is the amount of love I have for them. Neither is loved more or less than the other.
I don't want my children to measure the amount of love we have for them by the things they are given.  And I don't want them to base their happiness on the amount of fairness they have in life.



I like your method. Teaching fairness through other measures than gifts etc. As a twin I was ALWAYS comparing myself and the way my parents treated my sister and myself differently thinking it was unfair. If I had have learnt from a younger age that we were both different and had different gifts and talents we could work on- maybe I would have adjusted to the world a little easier!

In terms of school and life values it's nice to instill fairness amongst everyone in the youngsters - and yes it is usually hearing about acts of nature or war where the innocence of a child is lost and questions of fairness are raised. Focusing on the positives and how "you" as a child (or an adult) can make a difference and being thankful for what you have rather than what you haven't got.

In a nutshell - yep teach kids to suck it up- but still aim for fairness in life.

Edited by bagelbagel81, 06 January 2012 - 09:10 AM.


#6 Rilla

Posted 06 January 2012 - 09:07 AM

My parents taught us "life's not fair - get used to it!". Said with a smile, not in anger or negativity. They applied it to things like -
- if one child went shopping, or on an errand with a parent, and they decided to get a drink or food or a small toy/headband etc while out, well, lucky for them! The others missed out that time. I think the fact that these occasions were spaced out between us meant that in the end it was fair - not sure if that was by design or not - but that's looking back as an adult.
- if they changed relaxed the rules over time so that the youngest got to do things the oldest didn't at the same age, well, too bad! Any rules that appled to us all at once were always the same though. I'm the oldest so I still like to carry on about how my sister got a camera younger than I did, and how when the middle sister and I were at uni that the youngest was allowed to eat dinner watching TV! Important stuff! It's only as a joke though - I couldn't care less, it's just family teasing.

The important stuff like food, shelter, clothing, education and love were "fair".

I think they were good lessons, as life isn't fair. Bad stuff happens, people are nasty, good work isn't always rewarded etc. Somehow they also taught us that when it's important, we should challenge the unfairness, and I think they also gave us a good sense of what things were important. So we are all fairly resillient but not doormats, now as adults.

EF a very weird spelling mistake.

Edited by Purpletulipgirl, 06 January 2012 - 09:09 AM.


#7 Imaginary friend

Posted 06 January 2012 - 12:34 PM

QUOTE
Somehow they also taught us that when it's important, we should challenge the unfairness, and I think they also gave us a good sense of what things were important.


Yes, this sums it up.


I agree with you purpletulipgirl - I think it is important to be fair on big family issues - like not giveing one child a huge christmas present and other one something tiny (totally made up example) and to show your children that you do things, even small things, about unfairness in the world - but  I want our children to recognise that, on a world scale, they are not the ones dealt an unfair hand - the children who have illnesses, live in poverty etc are so much worse off than them and to appreciate what we have (materially and non-tangibly - a loveing family, peaceful society etc)


And  I expect them to realise everything is not the same and we dont go out of our way to compensate the others if one recieves something small and others dont - like you say, one gets a small treat when out with friends or finds a $1 coin on the footpath or something - well, it's X's lucky day isnt it original.gif

I also dont expect the rules in the house to be same as everyone elses - so,its not fair so and so is allowed to watch xyz TV program - oh well, thats their house, its not here, too bad.

And even within our hosue there are diferent rules for different people - its not fair, DS is allowed to stay up later than us -oh well, he is older than you ,too bad.

and the its not fair, X got the best chocolate in the box - oh well, he got there first , too trivial, too bad.

#8 red door

Posted 06 January 2012 - 12:44 PM

two minds. I think there is an awful lot of over indulging kids sense of  "I want" in our culture, and sure, that should be stopped, but there is also a whole section of our culture that is unnecessarily unfair and I DON'T think it is ok to tell our kids that they should just put up and shut up and allow injustice if they see it/ feel it/ are part of it.

I think by teaching our children that if there is a genuine lack of justice they should speak up we are also teaching them to hold THEMSELVES to account and think about how THEY go through the world and demand fairness and integrity from THEMSELVES.

a "put up and shut up" attitude allows many wrongs to go unchanged.

#9 Imaginary friend

Posted 06 January 2012 - 01:56 PM

QUOTE
and think about how THEY go through the world and demand fairness and integrity from THEMSELVES
  

Yes, good point.

I often remind my kids that the jumping up and down about some trivial unfairness to themselves doesnt seem to be equated with a similar outrage when they are on the beneficiary end of unfairness - by that I mean X does big fuss about Y got the best flavour ice block, its not fair (or some equally pathetic trivia that my kids squabble about) but conveniently forgets the day before when she picked first. rolleyes.gif

#10 Kylie Orr

Posted 06 January 2012 - 08:37 PM

Some great points made. Thanks!

I agree that the "Big Picture" is important to teach our kids but for the little ones can be a complicated concept. My eldest once complained about not having a particular toy and so I commented on all the toys he DID have and threatened to pack them up and send them to some little boy who had none. He wanted to know the boy's name! wink.gif

I like the idea of not getting caught up in the petty nature of fairness at a micro level and also making our kids accountable for their own responses and behaviour in relation to situation that are inequitable. Now I'd better get busy learning this myself!!

#11 KrisMs

Posted 06 January 2012 - 08:48 PM

We worry about fairness in terms of what we can do.... By that when my DD9 says that it's not fair that she has a peanut allergy, I do tell her to politely suck it up because we can't control it.  And the voice in my head thanks God that it's not something worse.





2 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 2 guests, 0 anonymous users

 

Special Ticket Offer, Save $8!

The Essential Baby & Toddler Show is back this April! Save $8 off the door price for a limited time only!

Finding baby name inspiration in unusual places

Sometimes the greatest baby name ideas come from the most unexpected places, as these EB members show.

The case for inducing at 37 weeks

While we often think of pregnancy as a 40 week affair, experts agree that 37 weeks is actually “full term". So is there an argument for inducing all births at 37 weeks?

Does controlled crying really work?

Controlled-crying techniques may help some babies sleep through the night, but for many exhausted new parents, it's just a recipe for more tears all round.

How I taught my infant to use a toilet

As people become more aware of these benefits, I hope more parents will practice this method, so we can cut down on nappies and improve baby bonding.

'I thought it was impossible': Emily Symons pregnant at 45

Aussie actress Emily Symons has announced she is pregnant with her first baby.

Shallow water blackout kills fit, healthy dad

A little girl will grow up without her father after the fit and healthy 34-year-old passed away while doing something he had practised his whole life.

Afternoon naps may be bad for toddlers' sleep

You could be doing yourself a disservice by encouraging your toddler to have an afternoon nap, according to new research.

Best gifts for newborns, new mums and christenings

We've compiled a guide to some of the most popular presents for newborns and new mums, and for christenings and naming days.

Jaime King to be a mum again

Actress Jaime King is pregnant with her second child, giving 16-month-old James a sibling.

Nannies should receive government funding

The Abbott government should extend funding to nannies, and direct childcare payments to low and middle income families, a landmark study on childcare has found. 

Common skin irritations in newborns (and how to treat them)

As many as one in two newborn babies suffer from skin irritations in their first few weeks. So what are the most common rashes and irritations to look out for?

10 wall decals for the nursery or playroom

Wall decals are the answer to creating a beautiful nursery or children's space without lifting a paint brush, a spirit level or even a hammer.

Preschooler walks 2.4km home alone

Three-year-old Cain Trainor headed off home after his first day at a new preschool without telling anyone.

Video: Why mums get nothing done

In spite of being in an almost constant state of motion while looking after the kids and trying to keep things together at home, it can seem as though parents have managed to get nothing on the to-do list done by the end of the day.

The middle name game

The middle name is no longer an afterthought, and parents' inspiration comes from many places.

Have a baby or your money back - but there's a catch

A new IVF scheme offers couples the chance to fall pregnant and give birth - or get their money back. But there's more to it than you might think.

A rare glimpse inside the womb

A baby born still inside the amniotic sac gave US doctors a rare glimpse at life inside the womb.

Battered mum forced to write to her attacker ex in jail

Three years ago Jason Hughes viciously attacked his ex-partner. Now she has to write to him three times a year.

Woman pleads not guilty to ultrasound scam

A West Australian woman will fight allegations that she scammed expectant mums by selling them fake ultrasound pictures of babies.

Download now: Essential Kids Activity Finder app

Got bored kids? Quickly find the best activities for kids wherever you are in Australia with the Essential Kids app.

 
Advertisement
 
Advertisement
 
 
 

What's hot on EB

Brain damaged mum receives compensation

A Sydney mother who suffered brain damage when she was hit by a car while pushing her newborn baby in a pram has reached a confidential out-of-court settlement with the driver's insurance company.

Indigenous midwives break down the barriers

A culturally sensitive midwifery service has gained the trust and respect of Aboriginal women.

The Katering Show's next big delivery

Most mums-to-be plan to take things easy and perhaps have a little break from work as the birth of their baby draws near. Not Kate McCartney.

53 creative pregnancy announcements

Announcing that you're expecting can be a time to express your creativity, sense of humour and imagination. Check out how other parents and parents-to-be have broken the news to friends and family.

Why I have mixed feelings about Cindy Crawford's leaked photo

Last week an un-retouched photo of model Cindy Crawford surfaced, showing the 48-year-old mother-of -two posing in underwear.

How to create a Peppa Pig pancake

Thought your toddler could not love pancakes any more than they already do? How about if the breakfast treat came in the shape of every two-year-old's favourite cartoon character?

'It's a little life, not a little loss': pregnancy after miscarriage

I thought I was never going to be able to have a successful pregnancy. I decided that I wasn't going to form an emotional attachment with this baby.

Bonds Baby Search 2015: what you need to know

February 18 marks the start of one of the most prolific annual baby competitions in Australia: the Bonds Baby Search. And this year is going to be more special than ever.

Who will manage your Facebook account when you're gone?

This is not something that people like to talk about, but Facebook has announced that it will grant users more control over what happens to their pages after they die.

Struggling mum of four wins $188 million

Mother of four Marie Holmes was financially struggling after quitting her jobs at Walmart and McDonald's in order to care for her children.

Pregnant obese women a 'relatively new problem', coroner hears

A first-time mother whose daughter died hours after her frightening birth insists she was never told of the risks of being obese and pregnant.

'I'm angry as hell': the story behind mum's passionate vaccination plea

She has labelled parents who do not vaccinate their children "misinformed imbeciles" - and for that, she makes no apologies.

IKEA hacks for the nursery and kids' rooms

Are you one of those that know the whole IKEA catalogue by heart? Love their stuff but want to personalise it? Here's some inspiration to help you realise the potential of IKEA furniture and fittings.

8 different kinds of tantrums

I never thought I’d say this, but for a brief moment last week, Kim Kardashian and I had something in common: both our kids had public tantrums.

Polycystic ovary syndrome: symptoms, treatment and your fertility

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common female hormonal condition, affecting roughly one in 12 Australian women.

What's the best position for giving birth?

If doing it on your back is out, what's the best position for labour and birth?

Wife forgives snake catcher husband for car surprise

With Valentine's Day coming up, Nat Gilbert could be forgiven for thinking her husband might be planning a surprise for her.

Kids who meet milestones at their own pace

We usually only hear the success stories: tales of the two-year-old who’s talking, running and completely toilet trained. But other stories need to be told too.

Ruby shines as Bonds Baby

Sarah Kiss has a word of advice for proud mums and dads who are keen to enter their babies in this year's Bonds Baby Search Competition - just have fun.

Why dads should go to sleep school

If your family needs to go to sleep school, go with them. You are part of that family and you are part of the solution.

36 baby names inspired by food and drinks

A French court may have ruled out Nutella as a baby name, but that doesn't have to stop you from taking inspiration from the supermarket (or bottle shop). See what parents in the US have chosen for their delicious little ones.

Clever breastfeeding products

Check out this range of products designed to help make your breastfeeding journey more enjoyable, manageable and convenient.

 

Win a KitchenAid Mixer

Let's celebrate 300,000 fans on Facebook

To celebrate, and to thank our amazing fans, we?re giving away a KitchenAid Artisan Tilt-Head Stand Mixer.

 
Advertisement
 
 
Essential Baby and Essential Kids is the place to find parenting information and parenting support relating to conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids, maternity, family budgeting, family travel, nutrition and wellbeing, family entertainment, kids entertainment, tips for the family home, child-friendly recipes and parenting. Try our pregnancy due date calculator to determine your due date, or our ovulation calculator to predict ovulation and your fertile period. Our pregnancy week by week guide shows your baby's stages of development. Access our very active mum's discussion groups in the Essential Baby forums or the Essential Kids forums to talk to mums about conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids and parenting lifestyle. Essential Baby also offers a baby names database of more than 22,000 baby names, popular baby names, boys' names, girls' names and baby names advice in our baby names forum. Essential Kids features a range of free printable worksheets for kids from preschool years through to primary school years. For the latest baby clothes, maternity clothes, maternity accessories, toddler products, kids toys and kids clothing, breastfeeding and other parenting resources, check out Essential Baby and Essential Kids.