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Are Parents Fair to their Children?
It's not fair
10-year-old Vinay says, "Mummy always shouts at me. She never says anything to my younger brother Aayush. Just because he's small he can do anything." One hears myriad complaints from children that their parents are being unfair. "My older sister gets more pocket money than me." My brother is allowed to sleep over at his friend's houses because he is a boy." "Daddy always takes her side when we fight."
Most parents start out with good intentions. They want to be scrupulously fair in their dealings with their children and treat all their children the same way without discriminating between them. Parents endeavor to give their children similar presents so that nobody should be left out. Some parents make a conscious effort to try not to lose their temper with one child more than the other. They try to apply rules of discipline impartially to all their children. Yet, despite their best efforts, children continue to complain that they are getting the short end of the stick. Is there something wrong?
While it is admirable that parents want to rear their children without discriminating between them, this is at best an admirable theory or a guideline to adopt while parenting. Parents who feel guilty when their children accuse them of being unjust can rest assured that it is virtually impossible to stick to your resolve of constant fairness.
Constant fairness is an unrealistic expectation of parents because they have failed to factor in the most basic element of human error and their capacity to misjudge situation and overreact which is quite normal. While you can work towards the goal of being fair, do not be dismayed if you find yourself straying off the path. Parents are human after all.
When parents think that they can always be fair, they have to realize that it's not like disciplining soldiers in the army. Each child is different and has his own temperament. Some children are easy to talk to and reason with. Others can be stubborn and naughty and will need a firmer hand. There is no way that one blanket approach can cover them all. Some children get shouted at more often because they don't respond to any other kind of discipline.
Playing fair can backfire
Parents should also keep in mind that by sticking rigidly to the 'always fair no matter what' attitude they may be doing their children a disservice. Children are entitled their special praise and privileges depending on their needs and when they earn it. If you deny them, it will just make them feel resentful and neglected.
It is difficult to be fair when settling squabbles between siblings, especially when you cannot identify what happened or who started it or who finished it. Every child will present his own version, but you cannot afford to take any child's word over the others. You will have to deal with them as you see fit, even if it means that one or more of your children feel that they have been unjustly dealt with.
So instead of concentrating so hard on being fair parents, may be you should work harder on ways to make your children feel loved.
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