If you’ve been around children, you’ve likely heard “no fair!” shouted in anger or frustration or whispered with tears running down the child’s face.
“No fair” is only six letters, but when uttered in pain reads more like,
“why me?” or “why not me?”
“why am I the one who’s left out?”
“why didn’t I get that chance (or thing or experience)?”
“No fair” translates into “I don’t like it, and I don’t understand it.”
As adults, we often don’t understand why something happens.
Children want to feel that they’re as important as everyone else. In some families, one child is favored over another. Maybe that youngster is more outgoing, intelligent, or fun. Perhaps the child has special needs—or simply different needs. However, the child, who isn’t getting what seems fair, only knows that they feel “less than.”
As adults, we want the same thing to feel like we’re “just as important.”
Children compare themselves to their siblings, cousins, and friends. You might hear, “it’s not fair that Mike has a brand-new baseball bat, and I’m using his old one.”
As adults, we compare ourselves to others too.|
For some, the answer to a child’s “not fair” is, “life’s not fair, so get used to it!” or “life isn’t fair to me either.” We may try to explain fairness, but unless the child is old enough to clearly hear what’s being said, the message is, simply, “something doesn’t feel right.”
As adults, when we’re upset, hearing “life isn’t fair” doesn’t help us either. We, too, don’t “feel right.”
Children often believe that fair and equal are the same thing, but that’s not true. Fair is freedom from injustice or bias, while equality is alike in degree or quantity.
As adults, we may understand those differences, but we still want to feel like we’re treated fairly and equally.
Many of us get to adulthood still believing that life should be fair. We may have heard “what goes around, comes around” but may not have ever witnessed the “coming around.”
As adults, we yell “no fair”—but not necessarily using those two words. Instead, we say, “how could someone treat me that way?” or “what did I do to deserve that?” And, if explaining our feelings gets swept under the proverbial rug, the pain is compounded. (Some people actually define themselves by how unfair life has been to them.)
We don’t want our children to feel like they’re “victims,” nor should we. Let’s acknowledge and honor our feelings, then move forward, recognizing that we have different values and different “rules of life.” If you live in the “Land of No Fair,” come back to your life—not unscathed or unaffected, but with a resolve that you do matter, that your life has value and that you are worthwhile.
“On Monday, a man was walking down a road. Suddenly, he found himself at the bottom of a dark place and was scared. After several hours, he realized that he had fallen into a huge pothole. He wasn’t able to get out on his own—it required a lot of help, and it was awful.
On Tuesday, the man was walking down the road and fell into the pothole again! This time he immediately knew where he was, but he still couldn’t get out alone.
On Wednesday, when he fell into the pothole for the third time, he remembered how to get out and did it on his own even though it was tough.
On Thursday, as the man approached the pothole, he remembered the last three falls. He even saw the pothole but fell in anyway. This time he knew exactly how to get out quickly.
On Friday, the man saw the pothole from a good distance away. He felt proud of himself for recognizing it. It took a lot of concentration, but he managed to walk around it safely and didn’t fall in.
On Saturday…..the man took a different road.”
This guy could have thought, “this sure isn’t fair—all I’m trying to do is walk down the road and I keep falling into a hole”. Instead, he learned that he had to make the “unfairness” go away by taking a different route—by taking a road that was a little less fraught with personal harm.
So, let’s avoid the potholes. Let’s walk another way. Let’s recognize what’s in front of us, then take the road that honors our spirits.
May your day be “pothole free”, filled with light, and overflowing with love and joy.
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