I came across another mom who wonders what to do when some well-meaning and unthinking soul gives just one of her children a treat – often without suggesting that it be shared amongst the onlooking siblings.
We have one rule that covers such situations very neatly:
Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
Sound familiar? In Kidspeak, it sounds more like, Don’t purposely make your sisters sad.
This means that if you have a sweet and delicious treat that they don’t have (never mind how you came by said treasure), don’t eat it in front of them without sharing. You wouldn’t want to stand by and watch your sister do the same.
You – the lucky owner of said treasure – have three obvious choices:
- Share. This is the preferred choice, and usually works out quite well. Sharing doesn’t have to mean everyone gets one-for-one tastes, but it does mean to share as you would have others share with you: cheerfully and generously.
- Wait. Save your treat for later – when hungry little eyes aren’t fixed on you, or better yet when hungry little mouths have treats of their own.
- Hide. Or, to put it more subtly, Be discreet. Enjoy your treasure, but do so privately. If somebody knows what you are up to and finds you, share cheerfully. If you received and enjoyed a privilege or treat while you were away from the others (for example, at Grandma’s house), then you did this by default. Continue being discreet by not flaunting each privilege you enjoyed. Be courteous.
Of course, there is an entirely separate issue to deal with: that of coveting. The Have-nots may not covet what the Haves have. If a sister gets a treat or a privilege, the others may drool a little, but they may not show signs of covetousness. This is sin and is dealt with as such. Rather, they should be happy for the blessings that their loved ones receive. Like the right-of-way for a driver, shared portions are to be given not taken. They are to be graciously received as a gift, not claimed as a right.
I think our children benefit from the “unfairness” in our house: one or two children very often can enjoy privileges that must be denied the milling masses. The milling masses willingly wait, realizing that their turn will come around far more often than if privileges would only be extended on a massive scale or not at all.
This may mean that somebody stays up late and has the last bowl of ice cream. Would you rather it sat in the freezer until it was frost bitten?
A lucky child might get to go with me on a quick errand when Dad is home. If I had to take everyone, I might not go at all.
The first one up in the morning might enjoy a sausage sandwich for breakfast with Dad. This is not our normal breakfast – mornings would be expensive if we all ate that way everyday. But just a couple, now and then…no problem.
Our children learn early that life is not fair: if it were, we would all go to hell and Nobody Else would take the penalty for our sins. We’re glad life isn’t fair.