Years ago, two sisters had written in to "Dear Abby", asking for advice about something that was destroying their close relationship. The mother of these sisters had died suddenly and she had left a lifetime collection of valuable jewelry. The daughters were trying to decide which of them got what, and they were finding it impossible to divide these emotional and valuable items fairly. Their emotions were raw to start with, and trying to decide who got each lovely thing, one piece at a time, was just too difficult. Their crying was spiraling down into anger and harsh words. Their mother would not have wanted them to act or feel this way about her jewelry and each other. What to do?
I do not have a sister and my mother does not have a vast jewelry collection. This exact question did not apply to me. But wisdom knocks at our door in all ways and that day my door was open. "Dear Abby" had a wise answer, and I added the essence of this answer to who I am as I live my life. To me, this answer was a diamond.
-Take the entire collection and give it to one sister. Have this first sister divide all the jewelry up into two piles.
-The second sister gets first choice of piles.
D-A-2-P-R. The "Dear Abby 2 Pile Rule". DA2PR made me a better parent, spouse, and friend. DA2PR was my ticket to the fair ground, but not the kind with ferris wheels and games of chance. This is a much more important kind of fair ground. A happier life is one grounded in fairness.
Think about that a minute. Imagine the care the first sister would take, knowing she would want to be happy with the pile she was left with. And for her to be happy, her sister had to be happy. She would be weighing all the different ways we value things, wanting it to be fair to both of them. She would be weighing both tangible financial value and intangible sentimental meaning.
I used this with my boys when they were little, taught them this was the way to divide things, when choosing toys "one by one" was not working. It always added some fairness to conflict.
DA2PR is a great way to split that last slice of pie. The one that divides it will be so careful to make the portions even, as the last bite left is the one they get. There is pressure on the slicer to get it just right. There would be three heads bent over that pie plate or that last ice cream sandwich, watching the chosen slicer do this delicate work. No one rushed the slicer! Accuracy and integrity cannot be rushed!
It also taught them that sometimes, picking "one by one" was what they wanted. I want THIS pirate and you choose that pirate, I want this hat for my pirate and you choose THAT sword for yours... step by step to a fair afternoon of play. They did not fight about it because they did not want to choose a ready made pile. At times they wanted more control over small things. Their favorite action figure might be in one pile and their favorite sword in another, and that would be no fun at all. So instead, step by step they would find a balance.
This is how I taught "the art of the deal" at home. This is how I taught partnership and companionship and relationship and stewardship. All these life values began at pirate ship. This is how we create a generation of honest business owners and politicians and leaders and workers. One tiny child at a time at home, learning how to get along as well as possible with whoever is in the house. Life in the world is just more of THAT.