Recently I was discussing some things a client would like to do for one of his children and the tension they were facing in that – how could they help out one particular child in a way that makes everything equal and fair among the rest of their kids? The assumption I want us to question today is this: is fair always equal, and is equal always fair?
Fair and Equal
Think back to when you were growing up, and you had birthdays or holidays that you celebrated with your family. When you were a kid, what thoughts did you have about fair and equal? How did your parents handle that?
Life is different for each of your kids, so the idea that you will spend the exact same amount of money in each circumstance on each child for each milestone is just setting yourself up for failure. Moreover, we need to challenge the assumption that, by default, it will always be fair.
What is fair? Is it equal? And is equal always fair? You might think that if you spend the same amount of money, it must be fair. However, the situations that your kids will be in are going to be different. Be more interested in fair than equal, and know that equal is not always fair. So how do you approach this?
Parenting Tips to Make Things Fair
Think about it this way: your target should be fair. When you think of your kids, what are you trying to achieve? Maybe your priorities are that they come out of school with a limited amount of student loans, or that they finish a certain level of degree. Maybe your target is that we help them establish a home, whether that is a down payment or it’s helping them cover some of the costs of moving – however that looks for your family.
If you’re aiming at the same general target, then it can still be perceived by your kids as fair. It doesn’t have to be equal, but if everyone experiences what you are trying to achieve, they’ve been placed in a stable, consistent community where they feel like they grow as a part of the family; that is what feels fair.
Do what feels right. Do what feels fair. It’s your money. You make those decisions, even if they are not equal.