I’m not kidding! From a young age, I’ve taught my children to not expect equal treatment at any given moment. I would intentionally go out of my way to get a small gift for one and not the other when I would come home at the end of the day. It might be the boy this time… or it might be the girl. It was an exercise I would practice in order to avoid unhealthy behavior in the future. I suppose I could have just shown them this image and avoided the potential scars just in case my plan backfired:
The result? My children have learned to rejoice when good things happen to the other ones. It’s given me the freedom as a parent to plan a trip with my son for his birthday without my other children wondering things like, “Does daddy love me as much?” I get to take my daughter rollerskating this weekend without my son sulking in the corner. They know that I love them all equally and are able to lean into that truth without insecurity. They’ll never receive a gift or privilege and have to assume, “He only gave me this because he HAD to be fair.” Also, guess what happens the one time you literally aren’t ABLE to be fair. My children are content in my love and I couldn’t be prouder.
TL;DR – Don’t let your children associate LOVE with FAIRNESS. Love will be cheapened and fairness will eventually fail.