There was a nice little article in the Wall Street Journal under the Personal Finance section that had nothing to do with Wall Street or with Personal Finance, but still was worth the trouble of reading.

It dealt with the perils of treating siblings differently.  Here’s an excerpt:

The result: He’s now accustomed to playing as long as he wants and disregarding time limits. And I’m kicking myself because I helped fuel both his addiction and his defiance.

Now we’re seeing our daughter starting to exhibit similar behavior — and we’re determined to stop it before it goes too far. We’re placing real limits on her playing, and forcing her to stop when it’s time to stop.

The upshot, though, is that we’re catching grief from her. She, for good reason, thinks we’re being unfair, not letting her do things that she knows we let her brother do.

In some ways, the problem Amy and I are dealing with is the flip side of another common problem parents deal with: being strict with a first child and becoming increasingly lenient with the second.

I can almost hear the little sister yelling now, “You’re not being fair.  You don’t love me!” 

Why? Because I’ve got a thirteen year-old daughter that tries to pull that stunt all the time.   Or did until recently.  A few months back, she got mad because her sixteen year-old brother was basically getting to do whatever he wanted.   Which we had allowed, by design.  When she claimed it wasn’t fair, I shot back,

“Yeah, you’re right.  Life isn’t fair.  If life were fair, you’d have gotten leukemia twice like your brother.”

He was recovering from arguably the most brutal of medical procedures–a bone marrow transplant–and his second one.   That shut her up. 

There’s more than just siblings that don’t get that “being fair” might just mean everyone’s life sucks as bad as the worst.  Thank god that life isn’t always fair.

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