Wouldn’t it be nice if life were fair? Not only would we increase in wisdom as we age, we’d get nicer skin too! And a big piece of chocolate cake would have fewer calories than celery sticks. And our children would breeze through life because all things would be fair. Well, life is not fair. We would like for it to be, and our children would like for it to be, but it’s not. So, how do we teach our children how to live in an “unfair” world without becoming bitter or discouraged?
As with anything in life, when it comes to keeping sibling rivalry to a minimum, much of the battle is won by having the right attitude. Sometimes we actually set our children up to be bummed out with their life and their relationships with their siblings because we foster some unrealistic expectations.
We must help our children understand that life isn’t fair or always equitable.
Once again, you are the role model for this attitude. So no more being ticked off when someone else has something nice happen to them and you want to say, “That just doesn’t seem right or fair”, instead of, “I am so happy for them. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer person”.
It is what my husband, Tim, calls abundant thinking versus scarcity thinking. Life is not a finite pie that gets smaller as people are served a piece of the happy pie. Instead, we must foster an attitude in our homes that affirms that there is enough happy pie to go around for everyone – even siblings. When this is the atmosphere in your home, kids aren’t so territorial and protective of their rights and stuff.
It starts when they are little and we are teaching them to share. If kids are allowed to hoard things for themselves instead of seeing them as ways of blessing others, then they are going to be score keepers. And I can guarantee you that their way of keeping score is always going to be one sided. Even if life were completely 50/50 fair, they would not see it that way. Sharing comes easier to some and is like pulling baby teeth for others, but life is a whole lot more fun when possessions and privileges are seen as gifts not entitlements.
Many parents wear themselves out trying to keep things equitable between their children in order to keep the peace. That, my friend, is a losing battle and the loser is you, the parent. The best thing you can do is give your kids an early taste of reality and let them know in no uncertain terms that life is not fair and it is not your job to make it fair for them. Sometimes good things happen to them and other times they happen to their siblings. The key to enjoying both times is to “rejoice with one another”.
This can only happen when you are an example to your kids of gracious living and also make that the expectation of your home. When you do this, you take one of the trump cards out of the hand of the typical reasons for sibling rivalry. Kids will fight a whole lot less when they accept the fact that life isn’t fair… and more importantly, that life isn’t even supposed to be fair.