I remember one of the most annoying and frustrating things my parents would say to me when I was growing up was “Life is not fair.” Usually, I would be whining or complaining about some injustice or my siblings and I would be in the midst of a rivalrous battle. The fact was, it was an incredibly important lesson and one that I certainly benefited from learning.
Life isn’t fair. It is not what anyone really wants to hear, especially not a young child whose thinking and reasoning is very much governed by black and white categorizing, but when children are able to learn that there are things in the world that do not make sense to us and do not necessarily appear to be fair or just, they are better able to cope with life’s ambiguities.
This does not excuse us from trying to do the right thing and make the world a better place. I am not advocating using “Life is not fair” as a justification or excuse for why there is poverty and illness and violence in the world (and our children really wouldn’t let us if we tried!) but it is an important lesson in helping us and our children see beyond our little black and white world and start to get a grasp of the big picture. Even if we found it very annoying when we were kids to be told and taught that life doesn’t always present itself as fair and just, we benefited from learning the important lesson. It helped us to see the places where we could work to make things MORE fair, and it also helped us learn where we needed to just let go and not get hung up trying to make sure everything turned out absolutely equal by comparison.
It may sound rough, but we can give our children the same gift by gently and caringly teaching them that life is not always fair.
See Also: Helping Your Child Find Joy