Fair, Not Equal
November 13, 2018
A common complaint in my house is - "it's not fair that he gets to (fill in the blank) and I don't."
This usually comes up when one boy is "grounded" while the other one is not.
Should I not allow the ungrounded son to play video games or have friends over because it might hurt the grounded son's feelings?
I teach my boys that treating everyone equally is extremely unfair.
It may sound strange, but really think about that.
I am not saying that people are not equals, they are - created equal in God's image - deserving of dignity and kindness. I am saying that to treat everyone the same and give them all equal treatment (consequences and rewards) regardless of performance or merit is unfair.
Let me explain.
Say you have two children, and you ask them both to clean their room. One child immediately obeys and starts to clean, while the other throws himself on the floor whining and crying about how he doesn't want to clean.
If I were to treat them equally, how unfair would that be?
Would they both be reprimanded for disobedience and fit throwing?
Or perhaps they should both be rewarded and praised for being quick to obey and responsible?
Both children still deserve love and kindness and dignity, but they don't deserve the same reward or consequence.
This applies to adults as well.
If you are an employee who works hard, always shows up on time and uses your work day to be a very productive and respectable worker, you should be rewarded and compensated. But should your slacker co-worker be rewarded and compensated too, just because you are?
No. That's not fair. They didn't earn it.
Again, both the hard worker and the slacker deserve dignity and kindness, but they don't both deserve a promotion or praise for great work.
Because their actions and attitudes are different, they deserve different but fair treatment. Not equal.
I am not just taking care of kids here, I am raising men.
They will one day be adults and they need to know that they should not expect equal treatment. They need to be responsible for their actions and take the fair consequences that come with those actions. Good or bad. Regardless of what happens to someone else.