Life Isn’t Fair

Photo by Suat Eman at

So often these days, every kid gets a trophy just for playing on a team and standouts are not recognized very often for going that extra mile. We all complain about it, saying there’s a great sense of entitlement in the younger generation. Although, I’m not really sure who that younger generation is since I used to hear my superiors talk about it when I was considered young.

Do you think, if you dig deep down, the blame for this should be traced back to our moms (in the end, isn’t every thing always blamed on the moms anyway — smirk)? Because really, if you think about it, we moms sure do try to keep things fair between our kids, don’t we? You give a cookie to one, you give a cookie to the others. If someone gets to stay up an extra fifteen minutes past bedtime, you can be sure mom will give the others their time, too. Everyone gets a turn now in life. Fair is fair. And, it’s so hard keeping things this way. This is why my daughter, Audrey’s, little stocking is so dear to me.

I got the stocking for Audrey her first Christmas after discovering Pottery Barn had sold out of the larger ones. It had to be this particular design in order to match my son Jack’s stocking. I thought nothing of it at the time (though you know I was first in line to place my order for a larger one the following year). But, in the years since, it has become Audrey’s highlight moment while decorating for Christmas.

As soon as the boxes are pulled from the attic, she digs deep into them searching for that stocking. She pulls it out and calls for our attention. She reminds the boys that she is the only one to have an extra stocking, that it is hers and hers alone. Audie doesn’t do it in a teasing or catty way, oh no; she does it in a way that tells me how important and recognized she feels. She feels special that she has something of value that the boys do not. It is a not-so-subtle reminder to me, the mom, that recognizing them individually is important, and that it really does matter. It helps us all to remember the old adage that “life isn’t fair” is alive and well and that it’s best learned early.

Through life, my children’s teachers and bosses aren’t going to keep things even and fair. They are going to judge them upon merit and personal achievement. Who better to teach them this lesson than good old Mom? So, in our house, though I do my best to keep things even as much as possible, I take comfort in knowing that every once in a while, it’s good and important to not be fair.

QUESTION: How do you teach your children that life is not always fair?

CHALLENGE: Find a special way to recognize your children on an individual basis this week



  1. Shelley says

    This is so true. I have 6 kids, and in our house I always respond to “That’s not fair!” with “At our house we don’t do fair…we do what is right for our family and each person in it, and sometimes that is different.” I also try to teach the kids to be happy for someone else when they get something special, and do need to remind them sometimes of something they got that was extra-special for them.

  2. says

    What a great article. Thank you. I grew up being taught that life isn’t fair and I am teaching that to my children now. I am very grateful to my parents for teaching me such a valuable lesson. To teach your children to expect something just because someone else has it, is teaching your children to never be happy. I am always surprised at how some families are so obsessed with being fair that they will even add up the value of the Christmas presents to the last cent and then write a check for the child who had less.

  3. says

    At our house we have a line that is used repeatedly, “We all get different things at different times.” Whether it is the rest of us at home cleaning during Saturday cleaning hour while someone is on a horse ride, or Mom/Dad surprises one of them at school with take-out lunch. ‘Our line’ can always apply, and really, it all evens out eventually.

    Great article and reminder–we do our kids a big favor by teaching them life isn’t fair. Good to have other mother’s out there that see this valuable lesson–too many don’t…

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