My kids have it a little differently than most, having an autistic sibling – he tends to come first in his needs and wants. In general, because he has been around longer than they have, they just accept that this is the way things are in our family. Sometimes things get a bit heated, but the other kids back off and let him have his way.
Are we doing the right thing? Should we let the needs/wants of the few outweigh the needs/wants of the many? (apologies to all the Star Trek fans :) )
I was the secretary of the local P&C for a year, a few years back, when our school decided to introduce the PBC "Personal Best Child" reward system. The discussion got quite heated when I asked why it wasn't called "Personal Best Club", people got up in arms because of that word "Club". Obviously, little Johnny, if he didn't make an effort and improve himself, couldn't be a member of the club; but miss Sally, who worked hard and improved herself greatly, could.
Why? Why is it so important for children to go through life finding things fair and equal, without learning things the hard way? Are parents wrapping their kids in cotton wool (or bubble wrap – that's more fun :) ) and then letting them come crashing down to reality when they hit adulthood or leave home?
In our own family, E was a single mum for a long time before I came along and her (our) daughter S, had all things fair and equal. Once I came along (she was 9ish), I was very careful at least in the beginning to keep things at the status quo. Pregnancies and kids came along, and life began to get a little bit more unfair for S, but she being the oldest, tended to get her way in most things.
When she left home to go and live with her father, life suddenly became unfair and hard. Many conversations were had between her and I about life and that it's not fair. I am thankful that we have a good relationship and can discuss these sort of things without falling into name calling – although that does happen in fun. :)
Back to the "PBC"; the committee's main issue was with the word 'club'. It (apparently) intimates exclusiveness, that I am better then you, that we are a better class of kid. Bollocks. Yes, there may be a little bit of that there, but for heavens sake, it's a group of school kids, who's achievement to get into the club might well have been they attended school for 80% of the year. Obviously the kids that work hard and improve themselves will get in, and those that don't put the effort in will not make it in.
I gave up at that point, obviously because I am a terrible father. Perhaps I want my kids to fail at things, to learn from that failure, to do better next time – and perhaps get into the club, and have a reward at the end of the year for their effort.
The school have a "Personal Best Child" system now, that rewards kids with a badge/lapel pin they can wear to school, but they have stopped the end of year reward now.
I don't understand, really. There's no reward, nothing to look forward too at the end of the year, and the self improvement they have to achieve makes Ghandi look like a train robber.
Well, maybe not a train robber, but you get the idea.
Having said that, I think that it's important that the unfairness is shared by all the kids and not directed at one kid all the time. They do need to experience the positive side of unfairness as well :)
Do you let your children fail, find things unfair or let them get hurt?
Can you stand by and watch them learn from those experiences?
What do you think?