January 9, 2014

Make Life Fair In One Easy Step

An article came across my Facebook news feed this afternoon that I couldn't ignore: How To Raise A Kid Who Isn't Whiny and Annoying. Yes, please! Sign me up.

Quick Recap: The article by Lyz Lenz basically tells us that most of our stresses in life are "First. World. Problems." that we shouldn't get so emotionally invested in. She tells a story from her youth about whining to her parents because they said she could go to a movie and then changed their minds. "That is so unfair!" [she] whined. "At least have the decency to live up to your promises." Her Dad railed into her that making funeral arrangements for her 17 year old sister when they were grief-stricken wasn't fair either. She made a retort and he sent her to her room.

What? That's it? I wanted more out of this article. I've got some pretty great children, but at times they are definitely whiny and annoying. 

Like Ms. Lenz's father, I have pulled out the dead child card on occasion. Life wasn't fair when we had to bury Evan. Or plan his funeral. Unfortunately, using my experience with heartache didn't work. Like Ms. Lenz, my kids didn't shut up, either. I didn't expect that. So I tried using my line a couple more times - always without success.

Most of you don't have a dead child card to use. But you do have other cards. Forget about using them. Telling your children that life hasn't been fair to you, either and they just need to suck it up doesn't work. They don't care that their parent's lives aren't fair. Only that theirs isn't.

So what does work? A young child who shall remain nameless but may be in the photo below was whining and I mean whining about I don't know what. Honestly, I wasn't even paying attention. I was reading a book and annoyed he was even interrupting me about his first world problem.

It's not fair that most kids don't know how to swim...in Christmas wrapping paper.
In a moment of inspiration, the next thing that came out of my mouth was a complete surprise to me. And the thought developed a bit deeper as I went along.

Me: You want life to be fair?

Son: Yeah.
Me: Okay, I'll make it fair. Do you know how many kids there are on the planet?
Son: No
Me: Billions. With a B. Like a thousand times a thousand times a thousand times more. And do you know that most of them don't have an iPad or tablet or computer or whatever it is that you want? (I'm still unsure as to whether or not he wanted a turn watching a show or what.)
Son: (silent)
Me: (gaining momentum) Not only do they not have electronics, lots of them don't have bicycles, toys, have their own beds, or even have a winter coat, shoes or enough food to eat.
Son: (still silent)
Me: Do you want life to be fair?
Son: Yeah (more hesitant this time).
Me: It seems to me like I should be taking things away from you so that your life is more in line with other kids.

After this episode, I didn't hear anything about life being fair for 3 days. That's a new record. Then one afternoon the aforementioned son comes out again with something not being fair and Graeden (not me) starts in on him with almost the exact tirade mentioned above. Ha ha ha. Yes! He was listening in when I didn't know it. It's so simple. Make life fairer by taking away the privilege.

After Graeden was done with lecturing his brother, he turned to me and said something like he was glad that life wasn't fair. Not that some kids go without. Just that he's recognizing the bounty that he enjoys. I don't know if "that's not fair" will be eradicated from our family's vocabulary, but I haven't heard it in the last week. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

2 Riveting COMMENTS:

  1. Yes! I like this technique much better than the other article (which I have read). I'll have to remember this one... :)


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