One of my favourite posters I’ve seen on Pinterest redefines being fair. (poster)  It says:  Fair isn’t everybody getting the same thing:  Fair is everybody getting what they need in order to be successful?

It is a very good definition but more importantly I think it is an idea that we as parents need to live by, and one our kids need to understand. Life will not be the same for everyone.

What do your kids need to be successful?
What do you need, what does your husband need?
We are all different, and we all need different things.

 

Parents often get flack for treating their youngest differently – I know I have and I probably do treat him differently. But is that unfair? He has a whole different set of circumstances to live with than my older kids, and they differ from him. We could equally say, that it is unfair that he didn’t have the same one on one opportunities that my oldest had. But it isn’t about being the same, about being equal – it is about working with what you’ve got!

Considering this quote we need to be very clear on what ‘successful’ means, and it may mean different things to different people. To me, successful means able to live in harmony with your values. This looks like:

  • Being able to do the right thing
  • Having the skills and opportunities to express your gifts and talents

In our house obedience, self-control, respect, punctuality, patience are ‘right things’. We expect our children (and ourselves) to exhibit these responses regardless of the circumstances of life.  Diligence is diligence and the standard of what is diligent doesn’t change. But each of my children have had a different learning curve as they have grown in diligence. Each of my children need different training opportunities, lessons and practices if they are to grow in diligence. The lessons I use to teach them diligence will look different for each child – this is fair – this is what it takes to make each child successful (that is, to walk with diligence).

So the training will look different but the outcome will be the same. God’s word stands true for every person, regardless of race, gender, personality or talent.

This is contrary to developing gifts and talents. Both the training and the outcome will look different for each of our children, because they are created different. Do you know the unique gifts and talents your child has been created with? These aren’t just things that your child can do but also passions and motivations that are unique to your child’s make up. Our daughter Jessica is a nurturer, it is in her, she cares and she puts that caring into action. This is a part of her created being and as a parent I have had to help that aspect of her grow as much as I’ve helped her interest in music or organisation or writing or understanding the Word of God grow.

I want to be able to recognise the uniqueness in each of my kids.  One of Jessica’s favourite movies is Miss Potter – and I watched it with the girls not long ago.  To me the saddest part of the movie was that Miss Potter’s mum did not appreciate her passion or talent. She belittled Beatrix’s creative efforts because it didn’t fit with her expectations. I never want to be like that.

I think being ‘fair’ where everything is the same, is a part of human nature, maybe the edge of the tall poppy syndrome. And as our kids get older they start to express this – awww Muuum, that’s not fair! Or they may pick you up and say, “You never let me do that when I was younger!” (Yes, you can read between the lines here – my kids have said this!) This is why I love this quote. It is my standard response now: I’m doing what I need to do to help your brother/sister be successful. Do you have a problem with that?

Of course this answer only works if it is true. Am I working with each of my children’s unique situation – their personality, their quirks, their challenges, their strengths? Or am I just getting slack the more children I have, the older I get?  That is a serious question it really does make us think about our parenting choices.

Am I being fair? Am I helping everybody in my family get what they need to be successful?

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