How Fair is Fair?

“None of you kids are allowed to _____ anymore!!!”

We’ve all done it… made a rule or policy for everyone to avoid a conversation with someone.

There are many things I love about Canadian culture, fairness being one of them. But can one be too fair? I mean are we talking about equal opportunity or levelling the playing field so everyone has to be mediocre to be accepted?

When I’ve been overlooked in an unfair way I tend be a little more sensitive to injustice in others, but is there another side to the story?

My fourth daughter just turned eight and that was a big deal for her. She spent her last family movie night doing weird impossible headstands just because she could. It was great exercise for my heart because she kept falling over backwards and nearly breaking her neck, and that always pushes my pulse into the danger zone.

You might say “You should stop her from doing dangerous things!!!”
I’ll respond with “How many kids do YOU have?”

The short answer is that Neela is an adrenaline junkie addicted to coffee because we ran out of energy after our third daughter. Whatever she does is spectacular, if not well thought out. She will excel simply because of her endless curiosity and bravery… IF she doesn’t break her neck first.

When I talk to parents who have only two children I often hear “You and Erin have FOUR? We can hardly manage two!”

That is because they are cowards.

They only have two kids so they can play man to man defence, which is for cowards. Erin and I are old hands at playing a zone. Sure, sometimes we lose a child in the store for a couple of frantic seconds, but at least we know where most of them are most of the time? Three aces out of four still beats two. Just sayin…

In all actuality our older girls are a huge help with the younger ones and we just like having four, but this is how things went down: I taught Arwen to ride a bike and Ailish, and they taught Katie.

Neela taught Neela.

By day two she was attempting wheelies and getting my pulse into optimal range for a quadruple heart attack… again.

But… Neela takes a little more parenting sometimes.
When she takes food downstairs to watch TV she leaves a tiny mess and her dishes don’t surface in the dishwasher. This drives us crazy. She doesn’t mean to but it’s not very adventuresome loading the dishwasher…

What is the easy way to deal with this?

“None of you girls are allowed to eat downstairs anymore!” Why? Because it’s FAIR. The other girls might have a perfect track record but now a penalty has been called against the whole team and…wait for it…


I could give you a hundred stories from my experience in family, business, and community but they all boil down to the same thing:

I don’t want to expend the energy to deal with one little girl.
I can play the “Fair” card, but I know deep down that the right thing to do is train Neela until she keeps mom’s rules.

One person complains or underachieves so we send the entire company a non-specific email and hope the one person “gets the memo”. It’s just the easiest thing to do in the moment but it leads to our company being mediocre and ineffective in the long run. I’ve been in companies where one squeaky wheel kept squeaking and cost all the best employees their jobs. Was that fair for anyone?

I don’t want mediocre children who aren’t allowed to stand up or stand out, I want effective ones who don’t keep their first job because everybody got to but because they worked hard and earned it.

But most of all, I want all the fire and spunk IN Neela when she grows up and not taken away from her because someone was being “Fair” to someone else or just…. Boring.

Now if only I could get her to take her dang dishes upstairs.
Hopefully I’m up for Round 87…


Corey lives in Airdrie with his lovely wife Erin and four lovely daughters. He pastors Venue Church and you can watch him at

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