Monday, December 14, 2009

Is Unequal Always Unfair?

A recent conversation with a friend of mine has gotten me thinking:
To what extent do parents have to ensure that they treat all of their children equally? If child #1 received a car when he turned 18, does that mean that all of his siblings should also receive a car upon turning 18? If my friend buys her older daughter a fancy present for her birthday, is she necessarily obligated to do the same for her younger sister? How important is this to our children? And does "unequal" always mean "unfair"?

8 comments:

tesyaa said...

This is a big problem in my house. The kids are very competitive and focused on what the others had at their age. It's not just material possessions, but it's regarding chores, etc.

N said...

lmaaseh, of course it matters. It shouldn't but it does.

rickismom said...

...and with daughters in law yiou have to be MORE carefull! And this is sometimes very hard because I feel like giving more to the one who hasn't a grush to spare, and less to the one whose husband has a better job, as she can get it herself. Also, some articles are better suited for this one than that one....
Sometimes I DO give something extra to one, but warn them not to mention to the other where she got it.....

Also, a few years back, I almost bought my oldest grandaughter a gold necklave for her birthday, until I remembered that this was a "precedent", and might end up getting to be too expensive. I bought her something cheaper....

G6 said...

Without commenting on your examples (because sometimes it's a tough call...) I will say that unequal is DEFINITELY NOT always unfair...
Chanoch l'naar al pi darko.

SuperRaizy said...

My take on this issue is in line with yours, G6. I think that children are different, they often have different needs, the underlying situation for one may be different than for another, etc. I have always been very upfront with my kids about this. I say "this time she got this because it's important to her, another time it will be your turn". Also, I stress that gifts are not to be equated with love. After a few such talks, they got the idea and this is barely an issue with us anymore.

Batya said...

And now, just before going out to finish chanukah gift shopping, I have to find a way to give "enough" to granddaughter #2 who inherits clothes from her sister. Do I really need to buy her the same amount?

Baila said...

It's a tough one. When we made my oldest daughter's bat mitzvah, we made sure to make a modest one, first of all because that's all we could afford, and second of all because I hoped that I could make the others the same type of party. I have friends who went all out for child #1, and then when the novelty and excitement wore off, didn't feel like going all the way for the next kids. I can't imagine the kids felt good about that. On the other hand, what would have happened if I couldn't afford even a modest bat mitzvah for the others--if our situation had changed? I try to be even-handed when appropriate, but some kids do need more, of different things than the other.

And when my kids say, "why did she get it and not me?" I answer the obvious: "Because she's my favorite."

PS and I got your award and loved it. Haven't had a chance to blog about it bec. I'm neglecting my blog, kinda like what you did. Also letting the roots go to hell as well...

observer said...

I think there is a big difference between toning down events because circumstances changed, and because it's not so "exciting" anymore, and most kids can easily tell the difference, if they have not been poisoned by the "must treat everyone EXACTLY the same or it's not fair" meme.

The truth is that you really can't treat all of your kids the same all the time, and the sooner everyone in a family accepts that, the healthier for everyone.