How does the Pareto principle, or the rule of 80/20, apply to parenthood? Named for the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who noticed that 20% of the population held 80% of the wealth, can this be applied to our families? Do 20% of the children get the most attention? Is 80% of the home less tidy than the rest? Are we good mothers if we are successful 20% of the time and really, isn't it true that 20% of our actions are responsible for 80% of the consequences?
As much as we try, as parents, to be fair, does this rule that explains clumping and a law of nature of uneven balance that happen anyway? Do children mind 20% of the time? Do 20% of the children excel in the classroom while 20% excel in the athletic arena? Is this why the gifted and talented programs are so sought-after, as teachers can teach to the top, rather than the middle?
The idea of dumbing down - teaching to the middle - and the idea of the cream rising to the top is a principle we've accepted. As a PTA officer, or organizational leader, a rule of leadership is to influence the top 20% and pay attention to that group in order to have the most impact and to get support for reaching the goals. If 20% of the group is naysayers and armchair critics, responding to the negative 20% will get a group nowhere. If you let the bottom 20% command all the attention, the goals will be diluted. Paying attention to the top 20% means the middle group will float in the wake. The middle is influenced by the Pareto 20% in any case.
Why is this hard for parenting and our attempts to be fair? Because we want the least of our children to succeed so we work hard to be fair and pay attention to all. Is unconditional parental love an exeption to the Pareto Principle?