Fairness is a “hot button” topic between kids and parents. “That’s not fair,” your child cries in protest to a situation at home or school. You may respond, “Life’s not fair,” because that’s what your parents said. And, we know we can’t treat two children exactly same.
The “Unfair” Vineyard Owner
Jesus told a parable about the concept of fairness (Matthew 20:1-16). He told the story of a landowner who hired workers early in the morning for a standard day’s wages. Throughout the day, he hired more workers. He even hired some when there was only an hour left to work. When those who’d been hired first realized that the latecomers were being paid a full day’s wages, they protested. The landowner reminded them that they’d agreed with him early in the morning what their wages would be. He’d kept his bargain. He told them that his generosity with the other workers did not affect his agreement with them.
The “Unfair” Teacher
High school students often told me that a teacher was unfair. Perhaps they’d been disciplined for talking in class while another student didn’t get caught. I always asked them if they ever talked without getting caught. Strict fairness (or sameness from their viewpoint), probably would have resulted in more, not less discipline.
Many Factors Affect Fair Decisions
As you talk to your children about fairness, help them see that many considerations enter into a parent’s or a teacher’s decision about how to treat children. In the case of the workers in the parable, the landowner probably saw that each worker needed a full day’s wages in order to feed his family. In the example of a student talking in class, the student who talks constantly or argues when corrected is usually disciplined more strictly.
Sometimes Fair Is Different
Tell your children that parents must decide what discipline children need to become mature adults who love God and their neighbors. Sometimes that must be different for different children.