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Almost every mom is intimately familiar with the plaintive wail, “But, that’s not fair!”  Kids seem to come into this world knowing those dreaded words.  This phrase is the go-to complaint anytime something doesn’t go their way.


Mom won’t let me eat cake for breakfast? Unfair!

Dad says I can’t roll around in the dirt? Unfair!

I have to go to bed now? Definitely unfair!

If your tot hasn’t discovered this phrase yet, pat yourself on the back for proactively planning for the inevitable tirades soon to come.

The protests of a child may seem a long way from the ivory tower ruminations of philosophers and mathematicians. It turns out, a particular area of study, known as game theory, can help shed light on how kids learn about fairness.

Game theory is the science of strategic thinking and if parents stand a chance of keeping up with their wily kids, it’s exactly what they need.

Game theory started out in the 1940s as a theory of economic behavior.  But since its invention, game theory has been applied to a wide variety of human endeavors, from international intrigue to family dynamics.

And game theory has a lot to say about fairness.Although kids are likely to call almost anything “unfair,” these scholars have a more nuanced understanding of the term.

In the 1960s, a Columbia University professor, Sidney Morgenbesser, was arrested while at a protest. The police roughed up many of the protesters, including Morgenbesser.

When he was brought before a judge, the professor complained about his treatment. The judge asked Morgenbesser if he felt the physical violence was unfair. As an astute philosopher, Morgenbesser refused to call his treatment unfair because the police beat everyone; he said it was “unjust but not unfair.”

Try explaining this one to your crying two-year-old.  It’s sure to work.

Okay, maybe not.

Other game theory ideas are ready-to-use for little ones. From a young age,kids have one notion of fairness that closely relates with envy.  If young Suzie sees that Jamal got more time on the tablet than her, she’s sure to be upset. Jamal got more, that’s unfair!

Research from Peter Blake and Katherine McAuliffe found that kids as young as four were sensitive to this type of unfairness, but even younger kids can be, too!

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There’s another side to fairness: the unfairness of getting more than another.  So, while Suzie is unhappy that Jamal got more than her, Jamal may not view it that way. He’s content with all of his screen time. There’s nothing unfair in his eyes—until he gets a little older.

Blake and McAuliffe found that older kids became sensitive to this more nuanced type of unfairness.  These older children would be unhappy if they got a lot more than another child. They understood the receiving end of unfairness—even if they weren’t the ones receiving it.

Sensitivity to this type of unfairness seems to set in around eight years. (Although, you may know a few adults who haven’t yet reached this stage of development.) ?

An old parental standby can help parents teach their kids both sides of fairness.  Many parents know to use “I cut, you pick” to divide cookies or cakes between fighting siblings or friends.

Jamal cuts the cookie in half and then offers the choice of halves to Suzie. Game theorists have shown mathematically that this should always lead to an “envy-free” division of the cookie.

If Jamal divides the cookie into unequal pieces, then Suzie will choose the larger. To see this, Jamal has to think from both sides—what is fair to me and what is fair to Suzie.  When Jamal does, he cuts the cookie into equal pieces and neither child envies the other’s share.

But this strategy doesn’t need to be reserved for the rare sweet snack. Anything can be divided this way. Are your kids arguing about which toys they get to play with? Jamal can sort the toys into two piles and Suzie can pick the pile she prefers.

It may even solve a few tiffs between you and your partner!  Trying to decide how to divide parental duties this weekend? Have your partner divide the tasks into two batches and select the one you like the most—or dislike the least.

Armed with a few classic game theory strategies, you stand a chance at producing a kid who not only knows when she’s being treated unfairly but also sees the value in being kind to others.

For more ideas on parenting with game theory, check out The Game Theorist’s Guide to Parenting by Paul Raeburn and Kevin Zollman.

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Parents in New Jersey will soon get more money and more time for parental leave after welcoming a baby.

This week New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed off on legislation that extends New Jersey's paid family leave from six weeks to 12.

It also increases the benefit cap from 53% of the average weekly wage to 70%, meaning the maximum benefit for a parent on family leave will be $860 a week, up from $650.

It might not seem like a huge difference, but by raising the benefit from two-thirds of a parent's pay to 85%, lawmakers in New Jersey are hoping to encourage more parents to actually take leave, which is good for the parents, their baby and their family. "Especially for that new mom and dad, we know that more time spent bonding with a child can lead to a better long-term outcome for that child," Murphy said at a press conference this week.

The law will also make it easier for people to take time off when a family member is sick.

Because NJ's paid leave is funded through payroll deductions, workers could see an increase in those deductions, but Murphy is betting that workers and businesses will see the benefits in increasing paid leave benefits. "Morale goes up, productivity goes up, and more money goes into the system," Murphy said. "And increasingly, companies big and small realize that a happy workforce and a secure workforce is a key ingredient to their success."

The new benefits will go into effect in July 2020 (making next Halloween a good time to get pregnant in the Garden State).

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Whether you just need to stock up on diapers or you've had your eye on a specific piece of baby gear, you might want to swing by your local Walmart this Saturday, February 23rd.

Walmart's big "Baby Savings Day" is happening from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at participating Walmarts (but more deals can be found online at Walmart.com already and the website deals are happening for the rest of the month).

About 3,000 of the 3,570 Supercenter locations are participating in the sale (check here to see if your local Walmart is).

The deals vary, but in general you can expect up to 30% off on items like cribs, strollers, car seats, wipes, diapers and formula.

Some items, like this Graco Modes 3 Lite Travel System have been marked down by more than $100. Other hot items include this Lille Baby Complete Carrier (It's usually $119, going for $99 during the sale) and the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (for as low as $199).

So if you're in need of baby gear, you should check out this sale. Travel gear isn't the only category that's been marked down, there are some steep discounts on breast pumps, too.

Many of the Walmart locations will also be offering samples and expert demos of certain products on Saturday so it's worth checking out!

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Any Schumer has not had an easy pregnancy. She intended to keep working, but if you follow her on social media you know she's been very sick through each trimester.

And now in her final trimester she's had to cancel her tour due to hyperemesis gravidarum, also known as HG. It's a rare but very serious form of extreme morning sickness, and on Friday evening Schumer announced she is canceling the rest of her tour because of it.

“I vomit every time [I] ride in a car even for 5 minutes," Schumer explained in an Instagram post.

Due to the constant vomiting she's not cleared to fly and just can't continue to the tour.

This is not the first time Schumer has had to make an announcement about HG. Back in November, just weeks after announcing her pregnancy, she had to cancel shows and again broke the news via Instagram.

She posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed with her little dog Tati, and spelled out the details of her health issues in the caption. "I have hyperemesis and it blows," Schumer wrote.

Poor Amy. Hyperemesis gravidarum is really tough.

Kate Middleton, Ayesha Curry and Motherly co-founder Elizabeth Tenety are among those who, like Schumer, have suffered from this form of severe morning sickness that can be totally debilitating.

As she previously wrote for Motherly, Tenety remembers becoming desperately ill, being confined to her apartment (mostly her bed) and never being far from a trash can, "I lost 10% of my body weight. I became severely dehydrated. I couldn't work. I couldn't even get out of bed. I could barely talk on the phone to tell my doctor how sick I was—begging them to please give me something, anything—to help."

Thankfully, she found relief through a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea drug.


Schumer probably knows all about that drug. It looks she is getting the medical help she obviously needs, and she was totally right to cancel the tour in order to stay as healthy as possible.

We're glad to see Schumer is getting help, and totally understand why she would have to cancel her shows. Any mama who has been through HG will tell you, that wouldn't be a show you'd want front row seats for anyway.

Get well soon, Amy!

[A version of this post was published November 15, 2018. It has been updated.]

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As a military spouse, Cydney Cooper is used to doing things alone. But when she delivered her twin daughters early after complications due to Influenza A, she was missing her husband Skylar more than ever.

Recovering from the flu and an emergency C-section, and trying to parent the couple's two older boys and be with her new infant daughters in the NICU, Cydney was exhausted and scared and just wanted her husband who was deployed in Kuwait with the Army and wasn't expected home for weeks.

Alone in the NICU 12 days after giving birth, Cydney was texting an update on the twins to her husband when he walked through the door to shoulder some of the massive burden this mama was carrying.

"I was typing up their summary as best I could and trying to remember every detail to tell him when I looked up and saw him standing there. Shock, relief, and the feeling that everything was just alright hit me at once. I just finally let go," she explains in a statement to Motherly.

The moment was captured on video thanks to a family member who was in on Skylar's surprise and the reunion has now gone viral, having been viewed millions of times. It's an incredible moment for the couple who hadn't seen each other since Skylar had a three-day pass in seven months earlier.

Cydney had been caring for the couple's two boys and progressing in her pregnancy when, just over a week before the viral video was taken, she tested positive for Influenza A and went into preterm labor. "My husband was gone, my babies were early, I had the flu, and I was terrified," she tells Motherly.

"Over the next 48 hours they were able to stop my labor and I was discharged from the hospital. It only lasted two days and I went right back up and was in full on labor that was too far to stop."

Cydney needed an emergency C-section due to the babies' positioning, and her medical team could not allow anyone who had previously been around her into the operating room because anyone close to Cydney had been exposed to the flu.

"So I went in alone. The nurses and doctors were wonderful and held my hand through the entire thing but at the same time, I felt very very alone and scared. [Skylar] had been present for our first two and he was my rock and I didn't have him when I wanted him the most. But I did it! He was messaging me the second they wheeled me to recovery. Little did I know he was already working on being on his way."

When he found out his baby girls were coming early Skylar did everything he could to get home, and seeing him walk into the NICU is a moment Cydney will hold in her heart and her memory forever. "I had been having to hop back and forth from our sons to our daughters and felt guilty constantly because I couldn't be with all of them especially with their dad gone. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life and I won't be forgetting it."

It's so hard for a military spouse to do everything alone after a baby comes, and the military does recognize this. Just last month the Army doubled the amount of leave qualifying secondary caregivers (most often dads) can take after a birth or adoption, from 10 days to 21 so that moms like Cydney don't have to do it all alone.

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