Fairness: What it means to be fair or unfair

We have all heard it and all of us have said it and some time in our life.  “The words almost always precede an argument or fight amongst siblings or even friends.  They are, “THAT’S NOT FAIR.”  When it is a young child saying those words it is usually about someone getting more than them or someone getting to do something that they cannot do.  When it is an older child it could be about something very childish or it may be not being allowed to do something that they feel they have the right and need to do.  Still further along on the age continuum as an adult we may feel that something is not fair when we see or feel an injustice being committed in the legal or political system.  Or on a more personal level, an adult may feel the unfair treatment from an employer or even a friend.

Those words, that’s not fair, carry with them some very intense emotions.  So what is it that makes something unfair?  First as an adult we understand that the word fairness can mean different things in different situations.  It may have to do with a group project that all must  contribute equally for the best results. On the other hand we would not expect to provide equal amounts of help on a project to an experienced team member as we would an inexperienced one.

As a parent though, dealing with those words from younger children certainly does not carry with it the same emotions as being accused by a teen of not being fair.  This month I hope to discuss this subject on a number of different levels including when we are being accused and when we can act as a mediator.  The meaning we are working with is, treating others according to what’s needed, deserved, and appropriate.

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