Life’s unfair

IStock 000006472565Small“Fair is not everyone getting the same but everyone getting what they need”

“It’s not fair” must be the most well used phrase by children all over the world – along with “why”, “I’m bored” and “are we there yet?” of course. Whilst it’s annoying and our response very often is something like – “life’s not fair” which probably doesn’t satisfy their inbuilt need for equality, it does seem to shut them up for a while.

The phrase above ”Fair is not everyone getting the same but everyone getting what they need” was told to me recently at a workshop with schools. It’s a moto that a Catholic Primary School use and I think it’s really true and has great value in it. We seem to have this enate drive within us for what we believe to be fair – whether children or adults actually. Many times our dissatisfaction as adults I think is more to do with our belief that we all deserve and should have the same. We should all get on in life, have a good job, have a loving, respectful relationship with our spouse, have adorable, well behaved children and generally go through life unscathed skipping to our death at a very old age (although of course still very active and with it before we go).

When I look back on my life and many others around me I can say it’s not been like that – sometimes it has of course to some degree and I’m not complaining about my lot but I can say with all honesty that sometimes things have not seemed equal. However, without a shadow of a doubt I can say that I have more times than not received what I’ve needed in life. Sometimes of course it’s only with hindsight that we can say that but when I think about the most basic desire to have a family and the rocky road we had to achieve that I know that it was what we needed in life.

For those who have been through infertility and the decisions surrounding it the feelings of unfairness can be huge. When I think of my children and other children like them whose parents many times have lots of children that they struggle to care for and then the many couples who would love to have children and can’t – it seems not fair.

One thing that is definitely unfair is what happens to children who don’t receive what they need in their early years. The impact of not getting basic needs met in the first two years of life can be devastating. The attachment cycle that happens when baby has a need and they cry out for help – someone comes and meets that need – baby can then relax and the cycle continues – that process creates trust in babies. They understand that the world is a safe place and that they will be ok. For children who don’t get what they need i.e someone coming and meeting those basic needs in a loving and attentive way – they don’t develop trust but rage instead and a very intense deep feeling that they are bad.

When I see my children now and the daily impacts of not getting what they needed early in life it upsets me. To think that they did not get the same as all the lovely babies I see around me with my friends today upsets me. And I know that the result of them not getting the same has meant that their needs now are complex. It feels hard to please them. Things are never enough sometimes. They cannot articulate what their needs are and when they do get what they need they somehow sabotage that experience as if to say “I don’t deserve it anyway”.

One thing I have noticed very much with my children is their need for equality – it’s like a radar that beeps every time one of them gets something. If I say someone can have a sweet the other two appear in seconds. If we are sharing chocolates it has to be exactly the same numbers. We try to teach them that life just isn’t like that but it seems unbearable a lesson to learn, maybe even more so than with typical children. Maybe the fact that they’ve not received those basic needs early on means they are more acutely aware of their need and that if they don’t have that thing something really bad might happen.

In schools on the workshops I run we always get onto the subject of treating children the same – but they are not the same – all children from whatever background are not the same. Our system is not set up for treating children as individuals, I wish it was – then maybe we’d be able to give children what they need and not some vanilla approach across the board that actually meets no-ones needs.

So what can you take from these ramblings today?

Children need their basic needs met in early years or the long term impact is huge.

Whatever lot you have been given in life – there will be parts of it that are what you need in some way – however difficult that is to accept.

Finally ponder on this quote ”Fair is not everyone getting the same but everyone getting what they need” and read the other blogs on this subject from our blog buddies group:

Wendy Sims

Luke Strictland

Phil Thomas

If you want to join our blog buddies group contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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