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Fairness Is Not Always What It Seems

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A boy and his tutorParents sometimes feel guilty about spending money on one child who needs extra help and not spending the same amount of money on their other children -- or, not having the money to spend on the others. Tutors, special summer classes, or attending a special school can be very expensive. I see parents struggling with this a lot. Similarly, I hear comments from students in my classes. For example, if one student gets to have reading and dictation support for tests, another might say, "That's not fair! I have to do mine by myself!" It is at this point that I have a discussion about the concept of fairness. How can we be fair to all of our children when one child needs more than the other?

This is easy to understand if the problem is more visible. If one child is sick with strep throat and needs a trip to the doctor, we don't think twice about taking them and getting them the help they need. The other children would not be complaining, "Why don't I get to see the doctor! That's not fair." Seen in this light, we know exactly how we would answer. "Honey, if you had strep throat I would take you to the doctor in a heartbeat. But, you don't need to see the doctor." The key here is need. We give our children what they need even if this affects the rest of the family.

If you are the parent feeling guilty about spending money on tutors, put the guilt aside. If the other children ask you about it, tell them that if they were having the same trouble you would spend the same money on them. Fairness means giving children what they need -- not what they want.


#2 Livia McCoy 2011-07-06 19:09
Thank you, Connie. It's a good lesson for all of us! Some of us cannot let go of the guilt, though.
#1 Connie McCarthy 2011-07-06 02:08
Well said! Learning this lesson early is great preparation for life!

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