The fairness conundrum

The fairness conundrum

Raising two very different kids

Growing up in my house was all about fair. My sister and I had the same amount of clothing, the same amount of toys, and my parents spent the same amount on each of us for holidays on the same amount of things. As the oldest, I think I had the hardest time when that had to change and it seemed like my sister was getting more things as I got less, even though it was my tastes that had become more expensive and my mom was still spending the same amount on both of us.

I tried to avoid this with my kids, but it's difficult. Kids tend to notice any small difference between themselves and their siblings. If you give one child more gifts at Christmas than the other, they notice. We try to say we aren't raising greedy kids, and we're not, but it still seems like such a fine line to walk.

My problem is one of my kids is simply more expensive than the other. My youngest has a short Christmas list this year, only three items, yet each item cost more than $100. My eldest also has a fairly short list, with only about five items on it, yet all these items together barely equals $100. My eldest is well aware of how much things cost, so I can't hide that information. What to do?

Part of the issue is drastically diverging interest. While my youngest wants a solar filter for his telescope, a radio telescope building kit and the Make: Electronics book and components, my eldest wants some clothes, Mp3 gift cards, several Lego minifigures, a new camp stove and a large magnetic white board. I did the math and younger's gift list easily reaches $800 to get it all, while elder's is only $125. Naturally, we can't spend $800 on younger, so he'll probably get one thing and a few little extras.

The problem is, this stretches to everything. Younger belongs to more expensive extracurricular activities. He will likely go to a more expensive school, and require more schooling for his career goals. The summer camps he chooses are more expensive. Even his hobbies are more expensive. While we try to explain this to elder and do what we can to nurture his interests, I can see it sometimes hurts his feelings that we spend more on younger.

I don't have any answers. What would you do?