December 3, 2010

The Abomination of Fair

I hate fair. I don't like it in the context of social obligations. And, I really don't like it in the context of my home. I have to say, that I think parents who try and make things fair for their children--are doing them no great favor in life. I cringe when I hear little people say, "That's not fair!" But, I get angry when I hear parent's utter those same words.

e.g. "Sorry I'm late, little Jimmy ate the last of the Oreos at home, so I had to stop by the store and pick up another package for little Susan--so it would be fair." Barf.

"Here Johnny! We got you a present, too. Even though it's Susan's birthday--we wanted things to be fair." Double barf.

Life is undeniably un-fair.

And, I'm so thankful it is.

Something Mr. Deem pointed out is, when you teach your children that life should be fair at all costs...and move mountains to try and make it fair for them; one negative aspect of this is that you will train them to be scorekeepers.

Have you ever been around a scorekeeper? Is it pleasant for you? It's not for me. These children (or adults) are on hyper alert for any discrepancies in life.

Couldn't we give them more to fight for? Couldn't we give them better injustices to be on guard?

They aren't lookin' for the type of discrepancies that stand up to a bully. Or invite the unpopular kid over for dinner. Not the ones that ignite a passion to raise money for the starving. No...we're not talkin' that kind of fair.

We are talkin' equal time on the swings...down. to. the. second. We are talkin' the same amount of pets, play-doh, and parties. We are talkin' kids who cannot even enjoy life. Because they have been burdened with a craptastic shiny gold star that says, "Fairness Police," right across it.

Will these kids become adults who minimize the accomplishments of others? Are our little girls going to grow into the women who constantly compare themselves to other women? Who are never able to obtain the ideal beauty. Eying other women as threats. Will our little boys grow into men who have to put others down to feel good about themselves? Men who either give up because the thought of, "Keeping up with the Jones,"  absolutely crushes them. Or become workaholics, because the thought of not keeping up, terrifies them equally. Will we raise a generation of people completely unable to rejoice at the blessings of others?

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote about pride: “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others.” In the same sense, I'm not sure if people will ever really be content with fair. I have a feeling it's really MORE fair that they are after...

In all we even want life to be fair for our kids?

It's not fair that in the distant fogginess of history a baby was born, grew into a young man, only to be abandoned, sacrificed and nailed to a cross for me. To be spit on for you. To be beaten and mocked for your children. It's not fair that the debt for my sins has bankrupted me. And, it's aggravatingly unfair that NOTHING I do will ever relieve me of that debt. My own accomplishments mean nothing. It's only grace. It's only obedience to His word. It's only Him.

"Fairness ended in the Garden of Eden." Andy Stanley

I totally get that it is important to ensure our children feel valued. I do not look for opportunities to mock my children with a diabolical, "Haha, life's not fair," mantra. However, I do take very seriously what I feel is an obligation to take any opportunity in life to show them their true value. That it's not tied up in Happy Meals, or exactly matching jelly bean piles. But, that it's all about Christ's love for them. And, that their purpose is essentially to glorify Him.

I'll tell you something more: My kids get the concept. It's definitely not always sunshine and roses. But, deep down, they get it. That, hey! Sometimes this is YOUR day. Don't feel guilty about it. Next might be your brother's. Be happy for him. We give and take, and there is an enormous amount of freedom in that.

This is not an issue that is limited to children. It's been my own experience that the people who are MOST concerned with "fairness" for their children, are 99.9 percent (yes that's an official number) most likely to be people who themselves have a chip on their shoulder. They are the women who whisper bitter jealous, fiery words behind other women's backs. They are the men who reek of  inadequacy and must constantly make up for that.
They are the people who will NEVER be satisfied in life. never. ever...ever.

Because, you know what? There will always be someone with more. There will always be skinnier. Stronger.Smarter. There will always be someone who has a bigger house, faster car, and a better credit score.

And, now we interrupt this rant with a totally deep Babylon 5 quote:

“Wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair and all the terrible things that happen to us, come because we actually deserve them? So now I take comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the Universe.” Marcus Cole~


Give your children the gift of contentment. Teach them to rejoice when others receive. Give them spontaneous, unexpected, TOTALLY undeserved gifts. Give them the gift of time and attention; not guilt-bred material things. Talk them through times when they have disappointment. Don't always solve it for them. Don't encourage seeds of bitterness to grow; not by the things you say, and not by the things left unsaid.


  1. First, can I just say that I am so happy Mrs. Deem started blogging again, for reasons like this...

    Second, I could not agree with you more!!!! I understand the temptation to get into the habit of equal piles of cookies. Sometimes it just buys peace and quiet. But, I have recently learned that when older sister notices brother has 4 cookies, and she only has 3, if she is a scorekeeper, it totally steals away the joy of her 3 cookies (and my kids are completely neglected and don't get cookies often ... she should be rejoicing with 3 cookies, but she's not... why? because brother has 4). We have recently been discussing this issue BIG TIME at the Dietz house. I want them to be happy when the other gets a treat and happy when they get a treat, and not constantly comparing, which ultimately leads to coveting and discontent. Thank you for this post my friend, and keep em coming

  2. :-D It totally buys peace and quiet! And, is *really* important to neurotic 3-5 year-olds. They have a need for order that makes me a teensy bit crazy. I am learning to be more compassionate about it. I've also learned that if I don't talk through it with my oldest daughter, she might go to bed feeling pretty low. (Over something she sees as unfair.) Just because you've worked through an issue with one group of kids (my older boys)...doesn't mean you are off the hook with the others. Just gives me more chances to get better at explaining things I guess. :-p

  3. AMEN. AMEN. AMEN!!!!
    I need to print this out and post it on the wall.. and then hand it to the "scorekeepers" I know....
    I hear my mom's simple but wise words echoing in my head at so many moments in my life "sweetie, life IS NOT fair! the sooner you get that through your head the easier life will be for you!"


Thanks for stopping by~