Parenting question - why should you promote fairness when that's not how to succeed?

It’s clear to me that playing by the rules, those of which were written by the incumbents in power, is not the way to succeed.

For example, we have Trump as president, pretty much every successful athlete is juiced, and and many billionaires got to where they were by not just breaking the rules but breaking them and then rewriting them to protect their interests.

So when it comes to parenting, why should you tell your kids to follow the rules and play fair if it’ll only lead to their inevitable failure and servitude towards those who don’t? William Rockefeller Sr. said that he cheated his sons every chance he got, and as a result John D. Rockefeller became the richest person on the planet with a lasting legacy. Therefore, shouldn’t we tell our children that power is what they need, might is right, and they need enough of it to bend the rules to their own will?

I guess it depends on what your end goal is (either for yourself or for your kids). Do you want them to be kind people who help others, or do you want them to hurt others for gain? Or something else?

I want to teach my children to be kind to others, and to value relation and happiness above money and power. That’s just me though, and I’m going to die without ever being mentioned on national news!


Survivorship bias. For every juiced pro athlete there are hundreds if not thousands of burn outs with debilitating health issues.

Following the rules does not necessarily lead to failure and servitude. You just need to be aware of which rules to follow. Most games in the real world are rigged for you to lose, even if you cheat. Question authority. If you can’t win the game, change the rules. Respect yourself, respect others.

A cheater thinks all winners cheat. It is the lazy way to the goal. It short changes the cheater leaving them no skills but those they need to cheat. If the goal is all important, cheating is the last resort since it always leaves you vulnerable.

pretty sure they grow up to both be kind to some and hurt others whether you teach them to cheat or not.

Pretty sure the distributions are different, though.

Pretty sure we’re not sure if we’re pretty sure about this

Where is “promoting fairness” listed as a “good” parenting quality?

IME, “fairness” shouldn’t be promoted at all. Rather, “equity” (in the sense of justice) is the quality to teach your kids.

To clarify, kids will see “fairness” as “being treated equally” . . . so if one kids gets to do something, each kid should get to do it, too. We ran into this issue with our two kids (~4 years apart) when we allowed the oldest to do some things but not the younger one. The expression used? “That’s not FAIR!”

“Equity” is the aspect that each kid receives what they need at that time. We pointed out to our younger child that the older sibling had additional responsibilities around the house, so they were afforded additional privileges. When the younger child is older, he’ll be afforded the same situation–although it’ll likely look different because we’ll work with the character/interests of that child, not what we did with the older child.

Test case:

  • Kid has record of intellectual superiority based on past grades.
  • Kid did not study for this upcoming test
  • Kid has flawless plan (>99% of success which you objectively agree) to sneak cheat sheet into test
  • If Kid fails said test, kid will get B instead of A which might impact his future
  • Should you allow kid to cheat? Encourage? Keep a blind eye?

If you’re so selfish that you’re willing to cheat (or create unfair rules) then you probably don’t want a kid in the first place? Kids have a bad ROI.

Hard to say exactly, but at least for some people, the desire to raise a family and the desire to help strangers comes from the same heart.

That said I know at least 1? Maybe 2? Dad’s who strongly encouraged lying during job interviews.

i was never taught to cheat or lie.

I still lie on interviews. That seems to be the standard way to interviewing. If they don’t learn from parents, they’ll learn from friends or eventually, from life.

Might as well teach them early to get a jump start

Trump is immoral both business wise and personally. Doesn’t have to be both.

I’ve a good friend who’s a billionaire. He’s a good person, and moral. He’s got similiar views on family, employees, society, etc that I do (one of the reasons we’re friends).

But when it comes to business, this guy is a slaughterhouse. The stories he tells me about how he operates business are jaw dropping. I asked him once whether what he did to a competitor was a good thing. His response? In business, the law defines morality. if it’s legal, it’s moral. He doesn’t do anything illegal or bend the rules - he stays perfectly within the law. But he doesn’t necessarily do stuff that suggests he cares about his competitors. He’s in it to win it.

But he restricts that to business. He’s not like that personally at all, with friends, family, or employees.

And that’s a lot different than trump.

Is this what you’ll teach your kids? Or what you find acceptable to teach? Be ruthless in business, but kind in your personal life?

Sounds like a rationalization to justify his behavior. But I’m not a billionaire, so what do I know?

How trump acts in his personal time seems pretty irrelevant here. It seems like your friend’s character is very similar to that of Trump, or any successful businessman, which basically substantiates CS’s claim that cheating (in business) gets you far.

Depends on what you call ruthless. It’s more like he’s astute.

I guess the question is: would you sacrifice an empoyee’s wellbeing for the sake for your (the company’s) growth and profitability?

I think most successful CEOs will say yes, albeit not out loud. If this is the case, why aren’t we teaching our kids this important value to get them ahead in life?


How is SpaceLobster’s billionaire cheating? At worst, one might make an accusation of unethical behavior (because you can be unethical but still legal), but even then, it’d be unsubstantiated w/o additional info.

well, cheating in its broadest definition, as in, cheating in life.

If someone gives me an expensive gift in good will, and I sell that gift. I would say that’s cheating in life, since it betrays normal human behavior to get ahead. Extrapolate into whatever more evil doings you can imagine.