As the parent of an eleven, fourteen and seventeen year old, it is not uncommon to find myself mediating over arguments, bickering and fights. UN peacekeepers could learn a lot from parents of teenagers!
A common theme often relates to the perception of ‘fairness’ and one young person’s sense of injustice related to expectations or supports given to another sibling. During the phase, I will call ‘establishing the facts,’ it is often stated that you did this for him but I only got or received ………… In this space you can insert time, attention, money or objects.
This phase usually takes a natural progression onto the next phase, which, I will call ‘establishing the emotions’. At this point it is common to hear statements like ‘you always do more for him/her, you like/love him more than me. It is, in my view, critical not to underestimate the weight of these emotions to a young person so I also try to respond sensitively and reassuringly. In the Mandt System training we talk about fairness not necessarily being about your getting the same as everyone else but getting what you need to ‘feel safe’ ‘be successful’ ‘feel valued’ etc…
I find his is a good rule to apply with my kids. They are all different personalities with different skills and interests, emotional and psychological makeup. Therefore, their needs are different and as such, what they need to receive should be informed by these individual factors, not a blanket measure of equity.
Simon Kemp – CEO