Do parents really get more lax with the rules as they parent their younger children? I don’t ever remember thinking while growing up, “That’s not fair! My sister always has an easier time of it than I do!”
I’m the younger one, however.
I’ve heard, in my family and in countless others, the repeated phrase, “That’s not fair!” when a younger child gets a privilege granted or restriction removed earlier than it had been for the older child when they were the same age.
Though I didn’t live it, I completely see the point. It isn’t fair for a younger child to get something without going through the same hardship that the older child did before getting it. I can understand the anger of “They don’t deserve that! They didn’t have to go through what I went through! You can’t do that!”
My non-pastoral and not even that parental thought is to say, “Life isn’t fair. Get over it.”
I’m really glad that the father in this week’s Bible reading from Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 didn’t say that to the older, angry son. Instead, he heard the anger and responded by telling the son who was angry, “You are always with me – and everything I have is yours.”
I’m thinking that kind words and affirmation are a better response to anger than “Get over it.”
Are you with me?