Please Don’t Say ‘Life’s Not Fair’ to Your Kids


As some point in your journey through parenthood, you’ll lay down the law with your kid, and he’ll say it.

“But it’s not fair!”

I know how you’ll be tempted to respond.

“Life’s not fair.”

“It’s just the way it is.”

Or even: “You get what you get and you don’t get upset!”


I understand why you’ll respond this way. Honestly, we just can’t make everything fair and perfectly equal. So often we need to use our parental authority to do what is fastest, easiest, or purposeful over the long term. But have you ever thought about what really comes across? 

Your kids hear:

“You don’t matter.” 

“Your feelings aren’t important.” 

“The bigger and stronger person gets to do what she wants.” 

Just because we can’t balance all the scales doesn’t mean we get to disrespect our children’s inherent sense of justice. After all, fighting for equity is a virtue! It’s really important that we model reverence for fair treatment. But don’t worry, we don’t have to do that by weighing slices of cake or keeping elaborate logs of how many minutes each child has played with the newest Hatchimal today. 

We can just use our language. We can just tell our children that we hear them. We feel their disappointment. We can let them know that we are doing our best to make things right because that does matter. We can reassure them that we have their rights in mind as we come to the final decisions that we make, even if they can’t always get exactly what they feel they deserve. 

So think before you speak when your child whines that you aren’t being fair. Maybe you aren’t. 



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