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“IT’S NOT FAIR!”

By: Tammy Sassoon

Parents often ask how they should respond when their children declare, “It’s not fair!” Even though they try so hard to treat all of their children fairly, somehow someone always feels shortchanged.

Whenever I ask a class of children what they think “fair” means, they always give the same answers. They say that fair means “equal” or that fair means “the same.” This is a very big misconception that many adults have as well – and the effects of that misconception are extremely harmful. Fair does not mean the same. Fair means, simply, that everybody gets what they need.

Let’s think about this on an adult level before scrutinizing how this idea would apply to children. Take the example of two next-door neighbors – Mrs. Cohen and Mrs. Levy. Mrs. Cohen is a mother of four children. Two have learning disabilities and one has a challenging temperament. Mrs. Cohen is a working mother; together with her husband’s salary, they are able to just make ends meet. Mrs. Cohen’s husband pitches in a lot at home, and is very supportive of his wife’s vocation. In fact, he is extremely kind and complimentary to his
whole family.

Next door, Mrs. Levy is a mother of five children – all of whom excel in school, and most of whom have easy temperaments. Her husband has a booming business and she does not work outside the home. She rarely sees her husband because he travels often, and when he is home he is very critical of Mrs. Levy and the children. As we can see from these juxtaposing living situations, everyone is equipped with different gifts and challenges.

Mrs. Cohen and Mrs. Levy see (or thinkthey see) the kind of lifestyle her neighbor is leading. We live in 2017 after all, a time where what used to be private information is displayed publiclyon social media. Because it’s so accessible, one may be quick to think it is okay to look at and evaluate someone else’s life. We must realize, though, that this has become the norm only in the last few decades. Thousands of years ago, it was forbidden toeven look into someone else’s tent! If we apply that value to our lives today – the value of sanctity and privacy – we would never look at what other people have so shamelessly. More than that, we would innately understand that looking at what other people have is futile. It doesn’t pay to compare ourselves to others, because what’s important is that “everyone gets what they need.” Hashem really sees to it that every human being has exactly what he or she needs at any given moment to be successful.

How do we assure our children of this truth? I encourage you to implement the strategies listed on the right to help raise your children to be happy with anythingthat comes their way in life.

Parenting Strategies

Model it.Show them that you are not looking at ortalking about what other people have, because of your confidence that Hashem has given you what you need.

 

Discuss the definition of “fair” with your kids.Ask them to tell you what they think “fair” means. If they say “the same,” tell them, no – that is notactually the case. “Fair” means that everyone gets what they need.

Find opportunities to praise your childrenwhen they show evidence of being happy with their lot. It is in these moments that they’ve come to truly understand the meaning of the word “fair.”

Tell your kidsthat they are not even allowed to usethe phrase “It’s not fair” at home. You care way too much about them to allow them to use language that is so harmful to their perception.

Assure your kids that you will always try your best to give them what they need. If you are not sure if something they request would meet their needs, consult with someone you consider a role model.

Do not try to give the same exact things to each child.Assess each child separately so that you can provide for them according to their needs. Slowly, you’ll see your children move away from comparisons and towards appreciation of what they’ve been given.

Tammy Sassoon is a behavioral therapist and parenting coach. She gives live workshops as well as “train by phone” telecourses to teachers, principals, therapists, and parents,
in order to help them gain compliance from even the most oppositional children.
She can be contacted through her website, www.tammysassoon.com.