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What Do You Think of This Phrase...

post #1 of 53
Thread Starter 

..."sometimes life just isn't fair"??  Do you say this to your children, did your parents (or someone else) say it to you?  I am finding, quite recently, that I have strong opinions on this, and I'm kind of angry about something that happened with DD at school, and this phrase plays a big part.  I was just wondering what others thought before I jump into my rant.

 

Mods:  I put this here because it's not specific to a certain age child, or even school in general.  Just a question about societal attitudes.

post #2 of 53

My mom used to say it, and I say it sometimes. I don't want my kids to think that life is fair, because I think that sets them up for a gigantic kick in the teeth. OTOH, I don't like it when people use it as a justification for being mean, and I've seen that quite a bit.

post #3 of 53
I don't ever say it.
post #4 of 53

I agree with Storm Bride. I often tell my kids that sometimes life is hard or unfair, because it's the truth. But we don't use it as an excuse to treat others unkindly.

post #5 of 53
I don't care for the word "fair" in general. I don't use it. Unless we're going to the fair smile.gif
post #6 of 53

I use a variation of that phrase. "Life is hard" or 'we don't always get what we want'. I don't like the term 'fair' since it often gives a sort of hopeless feel to a situation. If I've been wronged, telling me 'life isn't fair' seems to absolve the wrongdoer of fixing the situation and reads to me as 'suck it up, nothing you can do about it'. Changing it to 'hard' makes it something that acknowledges that something is wrong and difficult, but that it's still worth it to fight back/fix it.

 

And I believe in the colloquial understanding of karma. What comes around goes around. So, in my personal belief, I feel like life is, in the end, fair. Just because it seems like some people are 'getting away' with doing bad things, doesn't mean they are. Who knows what's happening inside them/family/friends/etc.

 

Ami

post #7 of 53

Life isn't "fair" and that is a fact. However, it bugs me highly when people use it in a way to excuse them from sympathy, empathy, whatever. I see this said a lot online.  It appears to be a catch-all for people who fail to offer solutions.  It is one thing that life isn't "fair", it is another thing that people use the phrase to excuse themselves of basic kindness and empathy.  Maybe it is cynical of me to say this but I really do think that people take a certain satisfaction in others' failures and hardships.  It puffs one up when one isn't on the receiving end of said the unfairness.  I also think that when people "suffer" they take a certain satisfaction in the concept that others suffer too.  It is messed up but there's a lot of bitterness out there.

post #8 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post

Maybe it is cynical of me to say this but I really do think that people take a certain satisfaction in others' failures and hardships.  It puffs one up when one isn't on the receiving end of said the unfairness.  I also think that when people "suffer" they take a certain satisfaction in the concept that others suffer too.  It is messed up but there's a lot of bitterness out there.


It's called Shadenfreude. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schadenfreude

Which makes you very observant, not cynical.

Ami
post #9 of 53

I've never said it to my kid, but it's basically true. Life isn't always fair.

post #10 of 53
We do say it, or a variation. Not about serious issues, but about the little "that's not faaaaiiiir" whining that kids do over nothing. The family saying is "a fair is a place you take pigs to win ribbons."

Life isn't fair. I agree it's not an excuse for bad behavior or unkindness, but it is true.
post #11 of 53
i say it sometimes. and my dad used to say it, though he denies that.
it isn't fair. i agree with stormbride about it.
post #12 of 53
Thread Starter 

Okay, here's my thing...I think that the use of the phrase "life isn't fair" is kind of dismissive and teaches children to be complacent and take what is dealt.  It also seems to be used most in a situation where one person is actively and presently being treated unfairly.  With DD, she was accused by the lunch lady of doing something that she didn't do (please don't challenge me on this, I know she didn't do it, even her classroom teacher knows she didn't do it).  DD insisted that she didn't do it, and pleaded her case to the lunch lady, who took it as "talking back."  Basically, the teacher (who I otherwise adore) deemed that "sometimes life isn't fair" and punished DD, not for doing what the lunch lady said she did (which even the teacher knows she didn't do, remember), but because she argued and "talked back" instead of accepting the accusation, even though it wasn't a fair one.

 

Now, I totally realize that there comes a time in a person's life when wailing "that's unfair" no longer works, and we're expected to articulate ourselves better, but I'm not sure that squelching a child's natural obsession with fairness is a good thing to do.  I mean, don't people "overly" concerned with fairness become labor organizers, human rights activists, and community organizers?  Isn't there a place in society for them too?  Does the "life isn't fair" mentality contribute, even a little bit, to people not even going to the ballot boxes to vote on issues that don't directly concern them?  (Gay people can't get married?  Life isn't fair!  Poor people can't get free birth control?  Well, life isn't fair!)  I don't know if DD is overly concerned with fairness, but she certainly is deeply emotionally invested in it.  And it generally isn't actually about her, and whether she is being treated fairly, but about the bigger picture.  They are having a book swap at school, where kids bring in a used book and get to take home a new-to-them book in return.  DD thinks it's unfair because not all children have books, or extra books, and that they should get to take home books too.  So, she has resolved to bring in extras (I tried explaining to her that the school has already taken care of this, and that everyone will get to take home a book, but she doesn't believe me LOL).  She also thinks it's unfair that polar bears are going to go extinct because we drive her to school (well, we walk now LOL, in all sorts of weather cold.gif).  But when something unfair happens to her, she takes it very personally, not in a temper-tantrum-until-I-get-what-I-want way, but weeping inconsolably for hours, and her feelings remain wounded for days, or more.  Literally.  Yes, I try to teach her about picking her battles, but I just can't bring myself to tell her that life simply isn't fair, or to suffer anyone else saying it to her either.  I am actually more upset about this than I expected, and we haven't even touched on the subject of "talking back" to an adult who is unfairly accusing you of something LOL!  I just honestly cannot think of a situation where I would be so dismissive of another adult to say to them "sometimes life isn't fair!"  I would never say something like, "sorry, DH, I spent $100 on xyz, now you have no spending money!  Life's not fair, so suck it up!"

post #13 of 53

I hate it, and I never say it. Sure life it's always fair, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try to at least make it more fair than it is. Most of the people I have heard this from are just people who don't have any desire to treat the person they are talking about like they are equal to them.

post #14 of 53

Yep, life is not fair.

 

But when someone is feeling awful about a situation is hardly the time to point it out. It sure as heck as never made me feel better about a situation.

post #15 of 53
I think that there are situations where life really isn't fair. And I would agree with others that the "life isn't fair" phrase is thrown out far too often in situations where things are unbalanced, or one party isn't being nice.

Maybe what would help your DD is to point out that fairness is more situational, and less "life." One situation is not all of life! And in those situations it's a chance to learn and plan for the future. Yes, a situation might not have been fair, but how can that be changed in the future? Can it be changed? If it can't be changed, is it worth holding onto the sadness or anger? Could the unfair situation have been avoided, and how? Etc.
post #16 of 53

I've never said it... but then again, dd has never said, "But that's not fair!" 

 

Like ramamama, I would challenge the kind of lack of "fairness" that happened to her dd.  That challenge may not result in anything, but I think that children need to learn to not accept things as it just not being fair.  Everyone has a right to be their own advocate.  Sometimes the fight is enough, even if it doesn't result in victory.

post #17 of 53

I don't believe in "fair" for the most part.  Things can't always be fair and equal, that's just life.  I think that in our house there is a balance, everyone gets what they need and sometimes they get what they want.  It certainly isn't fair, because we all have different wants and needs.

 

OP I think it's complete bs that your dd got in trouble for sticking up for herself.  That's different than unfair, it's just wrong.  If she didn't do it, she didn't and she has a right to speak up about it and defend herself.

 

But then there is also the issue of picking your battles, which is something we've really had to work with ds on.  He is a very black and white person.  Things are as they should be, or they are not.  I remember a specific lunch incident where he was at a table where some stuff got dropped on the floor and the lunch ladies were on them to clean it up.  He insisted it wasn't his mess so he shouldn't have to clean it up.  He came home pretty pissed off about the whole thing.  We had to explain that at that point it's just smarter/easier/better to just clean the junk up and move on.  It doesn't matter if it wasn't your mess.  So sure, it's not "fair" that you have to clean up someone else's mess, but it's not worth the battle.

 

My 5 year old has decided that the whole world is against her and that we are NEVER fair.  It's exhausting so fair is a pretty touchy subject for me right now.  

post #18 of 53
Quote:


..."sometimes life just isn't fair"??  Do you say this to your children, did your parents (or someone else) say it to you?  I am finding, quite recently, that I have strong opinions on this, and I'm kind of angry about something that happened with DD at school, and this phrase plays a big part.  I was just wondering what others thought before I jump into my rant.



 



Mods:  I put this here because it's not specific to a certain age child, or even school in general.  Just a question about societal attitudes.




 



I have said it to dd.



Usually it is after much talking reasonably and trying to be considerate of her feelings about something but after hours or days or weeks of her fixating about something that truly can't be changed I say something along the lines of life isn't always fair. Sometimes we just need to get over things and move on.



 



OP- I would be very angry that my child was punished for such a situation and told life isn't fair. I think that while it is true that not everything in the world is going to be fair this is a case of the teacher deciding it was more important to avoid conflict with the lunch lady than do what was right. The teacher could have stood up for your dd and been fair to both parties but chose not to be.

post #19 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

My mom used to say it, and I say it sometimes. I don't want my kids to think that life is fair, because I think that sets them up for a gigantic kick in the teeth. OTOH, I don't like it when people use it as a justification for being mean, and I've seen that quite a bit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ramama View Post

Okay, here's my thing...I think that the use of the phrase "life isn't fair" is kind of dismissive and teaches children to be complacent and take what is dealt.  It also seems to be used most in a situation where one person is actively and presently being treated unfairly.  With DD, she was accused by the lunch lady of doing something that she didn't do (please don't challenge me on this, I know she didn't do it, even her classroom teacher knows she didn't do it).  DD insisted that she didn't do it, and pleaded her case to the lunch lady, who took it as "talking back."  Basically, the teacher (who I otherwise adore) deemed that "sometimes life isn't fair" and punished DD, not for doing what the lunch lady said she did (which even the teacher knows she didn't do, remember), but because she argued and "talked back" instead of accepting the accusation, even though it wasn't a fair one.

 

Now, I totally realize that there comes a time in a person's life when wailing "that's unfair" no longer works, and we're expected to articulate ourselves better, but I'm not sure that squelching a child's natural obsession with fairness is a good thing to do.  I mean, don't people "overly" concerned with fairness become labor organizers, human rights activists, and community organizers?  Isn't there a place in society for them too?  Does the "life isn't fair" mentality contribute, even a little bit, to people not even going to the ballot boxes to vote on issues that don't directly concern them?  (Gay people can't get married?  Life isn't fair!  Poor people can't get free birth control?  Well, life isn't fair!)  I don't know if DD is overly concerned with fairness, but she certainly is deeply emotionally invested in it.  And it generally isn't actually about her, and whether she is being treated fairly, but about the bigger picture.  They are having a book swap at school, where kids bring in a used book and get to take home a new-to-them book in return.  DD thinks it's unfair because not all children have books, or extra books, and that they should get to take home books too.  So, she has resolved to bring in extras (I tried explaining to her that the school has already taken care of this, and that everyone will get to take home a book, but she doesn't believe me LOL).  She also thinks it's unfair that polar bears are going to go extinct because we drive her to school (well, we walk now LOL, in all sorts of weather cold.gif).  But when something unfair happens to her, she takes it very personally, not in a temper-tantrum-until-I-get-what-I-want way, but weeping inconsolably for hours, and her feelings remain wounded for days, or more.  Literally.  Yes, I try to teach her about picking her battles, but I just can't bring myself to tell her that life simply isn't fair, or to suffer anyone else saying it to her either.  I am actually more upset about this than I expected, and we haven't even touched on the subject of "talking back" to an adult who is unfairly accusing you of something LOL!  I just honestly cannot think of a situation where I would be so dismissive of another adult to say to them "sometimes life isn't fair!"  I would never say something like, "sorry, DH, I spent $100 on xyz, now you have no spending money!  Life's not fair, so suck it up!"


I think these two statements go hand in hand. There are times that life simply isn't fair, and that really sucks. When it's something that's brought about my meaness of spirit, then you work to change it. It sounds like this was a moment in time when your dd hit a brick wall regarding, not necesarily meaness of spirti, but something similar to it.

But I have had to used the phrase a time or two with my oldest, For example, he was obsessed with a toy a friend had and he wanted me to buy it for him. But it wasn't a toy I wanted him to have. After a week of him complaining and carrying on, and me trying to explain my decsion to him, I finally turned about and said, "you're right. Sometimes life isn't fair." This actually seemed to make him feel better than all my reasoning with him, becaue I think he felt like I was acknowledging his feelings. I was shocked that he actually stopped complaingin about it then.joy.gif
post #20 of 53

Life isn't fair, but I would prefer it to be equal. Usually when kids talk about something being unfair, like within siblings, they are really talking about equality and I strive to make things equal when at all possible.

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