Monday, November 27, 2017

Life isn't fair!

By Danielle' Dimond

I’m gonna let you in on a wee, little secret. My mother is a philosophical genius of Aristotelian proportions. Now, I understand that if you know me, you probably don’t realize that I was raised by such a Queen of Wisdom, but it’s true. She used to say things when I was a kid that were so profound that it took years for the brilliance of those words to actually light up the dark corners of my less than Aristotelian brain.

There is one such phrase that she used to say to me very often when I was angry about some grand imbalance in my life. This phrase would make me positively mad with aggravation. She would say, “Danielle’, (my favorite child), life isn’t fair.”

Life isn’t fair.
Life isn’t fair?!
A blog post all about teaching kids that life isn't fair and that's okay

I abhorred it because it always meant I wasn’t going to get what I wanted, which was usually vengeance or candy. And she was okay with that! How could my mother be ok with me not getting every single thing that any other human being (or at least my siblings) got?! As a little kid this usually resulted in an elaborate temper tantrum with carefully choreographed maneuvers of flailing, weeping, melting to the floor and throwing my hands in the air as if I did, in fact, care. However, my tempers for life’s unfairness soon dwindled significantly. Eventually my anger at others and the powers of the universe when I was wronged became less and less raging and more and more shoulder shrugging.

I sort of forgot about this phrase until my third child made an entrance into this world and suddenly my parenting became grievously unfair to pretty much everyone. It came back to me on a day when my oldest daughter came home from kindergarten very upset because her friend had a sparkly new pencil set and she didn’t AND her little brother got to watch cartoons today while she was a school and this was all terribly unfair!! Up until this point I had fallen into a habit of trying to make my kids’ lives as fair as I possibly could. I tried to be sure they felt like they had things that their friends had and that they spent equal time doing things that their sibling got to do and making sure all portions of everything were exactly equal from all angles. But she came home in such a state this particular day and I realized that I couldn’t possibly make her life completely fair anymore. It was such an obvious impossibility. I suddenly understood that I hadn’t prepared her for this. She didn’t know how to cope with disappointment. I hadn’t even realized I would need to teach this technique! Clearly my metaphorical Motherly apple had fallen far, far from my Mom’s tree when I was born.

So my dear Mother’s words came to me in that moment and I uttered them to my child for the first time, “Avary sweetheart, life isn’t fair.” She blinked at me blankly for a moment and then understanding dawned on her sweet face and little, sad tears formed in her big brown eyes. So I added a little something to the devastating news that I have since added to this same heart breaking news a thousand times over the last 10 years, “but it’s okay! That’s just life! For everyone!”

I had no idea way back when I was a kid just how true my Mom’s words were! Life just really isn’t fair! If it was fair, we wouldn’t have a reason to be grateful or to feel blessed. Sometimes we get what we deserve (for better or worse) and sometimes we get what we don’t deserve (for better or worse) and our only concern should be what in the world to do with whatever it is we got or what in the world to do about what we didn’t get.

Life is full of disappointment. It’s full of blissful surprises and unexpected goodness too but boy, the disappointments are what can throw you sometimes. So why not raise kids who know how to roll with the dirty, street fighting, no rules and no honor punches life throws? Teach them that they happen; it’s a given fact. It’s nothing personal. Just because you broke your foot the day before Halloween and can’t go trick-or-treating does not mean that God (and all the fences in the world) have it out for you. It just means that you should listen to your mother when she says, “Don’t climb the fence!” and that you will get to learn to receive some service and love from your siblings when they share their candy with you. Not getting an invitation to Susie Simpleton’s birthday party does not mean every single kid in the school hates you, it just means that Susie couldn’t invite everyone in the third grade, so you get to make other fun plans that day. Life’s little imbalances cannot throw you off your course every time or you’ll never get anywhere fun!  

Obviously there will be instances when you will need to try to make things right for your kid. Disappointment is something to be learned, within reason of course and you’re the judge on that one. The idea is that when those times come, you think about what your actions are teaching your child. Are these hero moves teaching your child to take responsibility for their actions or teaching them that Mom will make things right every time something bad happens or every time they make a mistake. Be careful not to jump into reparative action every time our kids shout, “It’s not fair!” Take a minute to think it through. Is this something my kid can handle and should handle?

On the third side of this fairness-of-life triangle is the fact that sometimes we have to teach kids that some things seem unfair, but are actually called, ‘reaping what we sow’. So your son ate ice cream, donuts and chips and stayed up late the night before basketball tryouts. As a result he didn’t make the team even though he’s a way better player than Jimmy Jumpshot over there who did make the team. As a parent you can either, call the coach and try to talk your kid’s way back onto the team and teach your kid that Mom will come to the rescue no matter what choices he makes. Or you can hug your kid and do nothing, and teach that learning ball player that he needs to work harder and take better care of his body if he wants to make the team next year.

Because once in awhile, life IS totally fair and you WILL in fact get what you deserve. So work and live to deserve the best! Even though you might not always get it you’ll sure make it easier for fortune (or God, you know, whoever seems most giving at the time) to smile upon you!

Once upon a time our loving Savior sure did something for us that was the most unfair thing of them all. He was perfect and he paid the price for all of our sins anyway, even though it wasn’t fair. I’m so very grateful to have a Savior who didn’t give a second thought to whether it was fair that he should suffer for the things I did. The mistakes I made. The pain I went through and the misery I have born. He just did it because he loves me and he loves us and it wasn’t fair. I’m so very glad, it wasn’t fair because I want to be able to thank him one day and be with him always.
So here’s to a generation of kids who can shrug their shoulders when life is hard and unfair and just work harder or find happiness elsewhere. We can raise kids who can handle hard and who can snort at unfair and make their own luck!

Thanks for the simple and solid life lesson Mom! You really DO know everything!

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