Does Fair Parenting Mean Same Parenting?

I read a blog post recently from another mom who treats her children equally.  Her five year old earned a toy as a reward… so she bought a new toy, of equal cash value, for her thirteen month old.  To her, it was only fair parenting.  Now, I won’t say that I think that she was wrong to do this.  But I will say that I’m not convinced I’d have done the same thing.

Does Fair Parenting Mean Same Parenting? (Motherhood Looms)In fact, I’m sure I wouldn’t have.

I do like to think that my husband and I engage in fair parenting with our children.  Norton isn’t allowed to snatch Eudora’s toys.  Eudora isn’t allowed to snatch Norton’s toys.  It’s just not okay to be a jerk.

That being said… We don’t treat our children exactly the same.  There’s a reason for that, and it has nothing to do with fair parenting: our children aren’t the same.  Eudora is exploring the world for the first time.  Norton is potty training.  Eudora is happy as a clam to try on new dresses and wear pretty things.  Norton wants to wear shirts with Elmo or Lightening McQueen.  Likewise, my fifteen year old is into computers, BMX stunt biking, and his girlfriend.

If I take Norton to the toy store to get him a reward for potty training excellence (and that’s how he got his Spencer the train… staying dry and using the potty at a friend’s house), wouldn’t it diminish the specialness of buying a toy for Eudora, too, just because Norton earned one?  Okay, so right now, Norton is three.  But if he comes home with a first place trophy for the science fair, is it fair to him to reward Eudora with an equal prize?  Or if Eudora wins the spelling bee when she’s in school and I get her a new game for a prize, is it fair to her to get one for Norton, too?

I’m not convinced that “equal parenting” is exactly fair.  I’m not sure that it’s really fair to reward one for participating the same way we reward one for winning.  Yes, participation and effort are both extremely important, as one cannot overcome difficult obstacles without even trying.  By the same token, I’m not convinced that it’s a good precedent to take them both to the toy store.
It’s not about playing favorites.  It’s about recognizing successes.

Do you think that fair parenting means getting both children an equal reward, even though only one of them made the accomplishment?
About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.

Comments

  1. Tara Gauthier says:

    Well, my opinion that it is our job as parents to prepare our kids for the future. So, even at a young age it is good to think about if what you are doing is the way things will be when they grow up. I mean, when they are older every time someone does something good they are not going to get a reward. Learning that you are rewarded for your behaviour relates to job performance skills later on and not having a sense of entitlement for things. It may seem like nothing to start giving that item at a young age when the other sibling gets rewarded but do this throughout childhood and I can only imagine what that child would be like as a teenager!

  2. Tara Gauthier says:

    Well, my opinion that it is our job as parents to prepare our kids for the future. So, even at a young age it is good to think about if what you are doing is the way things will be when they grow up. I mean, when they are older every time someone does something good they are not going to get a reward. Learning that you are rewarded for your behaviour relates to job performance skills later on and not having a sense of entitlement for things. It may seem like nothing to start giving that item at a young age when the other sibling gets rewarded but do this throughout childhood and I can only imagine what that child would be like as a teenager!

  3. Parenting is never easy. So many decisions. I agree preparing them for the future is extremely important.

  4. Parenting is never easy. So many decisions. I agree preparing them for the future is extremely important.

  5. I am NOT a fair parent. I believe that equality and justice are not the same thing. With 5 kids, I would go crazy trying to be equal all the time and lets face it, the world is not fair. Each person needs to have their needs met. I found this image, which I love! http://sphotos-a.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/549824_10151294588104442_1073593965_n.jpg

  6. I am NOT a fair parent. I believe that equality and justice are not the same thing. With 5 kids, I would go crazy trying to be equal all the time and lets face it, the world is not fair. Each person needs to have their needs met. I found this image, which I love! http://sphotos-a.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/549824_10151294588104442_1073593965_n.jpg

  7. I agree that fair parenting doesn’t mean that every child has to get a prize when one get’s a prize. I’d actually say that wasn’t fair, because like you said, if one child earns a reward, how would it be fair to give another child a similar prize for nothing?

  8. I agree that fair parenting doesn’t mean that every child has to get a prize when one get’s a prize. I’d actually say that wasn’t fair, because like you said, if one child earns a reward, how would it be fair to give another child a similar prize for nothing?

  9. I actually don’t think it is “fair” to reward all of your children with a trip to the toy store or some other material reward because one child did something deserving of a reward. That one child should be rewarded in some way, but that does not necessarily mean they all get something out of it. That actually seems like the opposite of “fair” to me.

  10. I actually don’t think it is “fair” to reward all of your children with a trip to the toy store or some other material reward because one child did something deserving of a reward. That one child should be rewarded in some way, but that does not necessarily mean they all get something out of it. That actually seems like the opposite of “fair” to me.

  11. It seems by your original example they’re just setting their kids up to fail. You don’t get an award just for existing, you get an award for being the best at something.

  12. It seems by your original example they’re just setting their kids up to fail. You don’t get an award just for existing, you get an award for being the best at something.

  13. Funny, because we were just talking about this. It’s important to learn that you don’t win every time, you don’t always get rewarded, etc… but it’s also important to me to acknowledge effort. Trying your hardest is JUST as important as succeeding, for me.

    • Right, but in this case, the younger one had no idea why he was even getting a toy, so there was no effort to reward. Is that beneficial?

  14. Funny, because we were just talking about this. It’s important to learn that you don’t win every time, you don’t always get rewarded, etc… but it’s also important to me to acknowledge effort. Trying your hardest is JUST as important as succeeding, for me.

    • Right, but in this case, the younger one had no idea why he was even getting a toy, so there was no effort to reward. Is that beneficial?

  15. Fair cannot be equal. As you point out, no two children are exactly alike. Furthermore, if one child gets rewarded for doing nothing, then how does that teach anyone anything positive. Why should either try?

  16. Fair cannot be equal. As you point out, no two children are exactly alike. Furthermore, if one child gets rewarded for doing nothing, then how does that teach anyone anything positive. Why should either try?

  17. I’m totally with you. It’s impossible to sustain fair parenting as kids get older. If one kid does something exceptional and earns a reward, it’s a great way to motivate other children.

  18. I’m totally with you. It’s impossible to sustain fair parenting as kids get older. If one kid does something exceptional and earns a reward, it’s a great way to motivate other children.

  19. I think it’s difficult to have fair parenting as every individual is different right? Our kids can’t all have the exact same personalities. Just my thought.

  20. I think it’s difficult to have fair parenting as every individual is different right? Our kids can’t all have the exact same personalities. Just my thought.

  21. I think it is important for kids to get rewarded for accomplishments (be it toys, fun activities or treats). I think it would definitely take away from the reward if a sibling got the same reward for doing nothing.

    On the other side, kids have to learn that they are not always the “special” ones. They have to learn to be happy for their sibling even if they themselves do not get a toy as well.

  22. I think it is important for kids to get rewarded for accomplishments (be it toys, fun activities or treats). I think it would definitely take away from the reward if a sibling got the same reward for doing nothing.

    On the other side, kids have to learn that they are not always the “special” ones. They have to learn to be happy for their sibling even if they themselves do not get a toy as well.

  23. I agree with you and I think it all comes down to different circumstances and situations. Fair parenting is not always equal and I think that’s good for preparing children for the world around them.

  24. I agree with you and I think it all comes down to different circumstances and situations. Fair parenting is not always equal and I think that’s good for preparing children for the world around them.

  25. Just thinking about it makes my head hurt. One is enough for me right now! But growing up, my brother and I were not treated the same at all. I think you can be fair and not treat children the same. But there is a difference between treating kids differently but fairly, and just treating your kids differently. It seems like you have the right idea to me.

  26. Just thinking about it makes my head hurt. One is enough for me right now! But growing up, my brother and I were not treated the same at all. I think you can be fair and not treat children the same. But there is a difference between treating kids differently but fairly, and just treating your kids differently. It seems like you have the right idea to me.

  27. Equal parenting would mean making sure each unique child’s needs are met. No two kids need the same thing. Equal parenting should not mean treating each child the exact same.

  28. Equal parenting would mean making sure each unique child’s needs are met. No two kids need the same thing. Equal parenting should not mean treating each child the exact same.

  29. This is so so tricky!! I only have one baby so I haven’t had to experience this yet!! I love what you said!!
    Danielle recently posted…Recharge Your Relationships By Unplugging From Your PhoneMy Profile

  30. My kids are 9,8 and 5. We’re equal about, say, handing out the same number of cookies or Christmas presents, but it’s impossible to be equal about everything else. Eventually, you can’t bring the siblings to the birthday party or schedule play dates for the exact same time or go on the same field trip or what have you. We just try to make sure that everyone gets to have play dates and birthday parties and field trips and whatnot, even if they’re not exactly the same.
    Triplezmom recently posted…Stomping on the BoxesMy Profile

  31. You hit the nail on the head! There is fairness in treating your kids differently, and rewardig them individually. Just like you wouldn’t punish both kids if one misbehaved.
    Danialle recently posted…Mama Bird’s Essential Oils SeriesMy Profile

  32. Lisa Jones says:

    GOD NO I Don’t Agree Different Accomplishments Different REWARDS!!

  33. I don’t think that parenting can be written in certain and straight forward rules of what to do or how to handle situations. Some of them come at you so fast that you have to think on your toes. We try to treat our chldren equally but one is 6 and the other 20 months. The rules are a little different because of the age factor. I think parenting is a challenge and there are too many rules. Just do what you feel is right 🙂
    Becca Wilson recently posted…Only 13 Weeks To Go My Profile

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