How to deal with a MIL that plays favorites?

Julie - posted on 11/11/2008 ( 22 moms have responded )

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My mother-in-law has two grandchildren. My step-daughter age 7 1/2 and my son age 5. My daughter has her own bedroom including a ton of clothes and toys at her house. My son has a drawerful of clothes in the spare bedroom downstairs that I brought over for when he gets messy. He only has toys that I bring for him to play with. When she buys things for my daughter, she doesnt for my son. She bought a tye die kit and only two shirts one for her and my daughter. My son only got a shirt after he asked why he didnt have one. She went to my daughters halloween party, but didnt want to go to my sons. She has never missed one of my daughter's school or girl scout performances and has never gone to one of my sons. I want to tell her to piss off and stay away from both of my kids, but is that really fair to my daughter and son.

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Wanda - posted on 08/21/2012

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I, being a grandparent, would never play favorites. You should take her aside and explain to her how this hurts. Does it hurt the child or you???? It is a thoughtless thing for grandparents to play favorites, regardless, step or not... children do not understand. The husband should also get involved with this...if it is his parents, he should handle the situation, if it is your parents, then you should handle the situation! Regardless, no child should be left out, simply because they are step! Shame on you grandparents for being so thoughtless!

Wanda - posted on 08/21/2012

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I, being a grandparent, would never play favorites. You should take her aside and explain to her how this hurts. Does it hurt the child or you???? It is a thoughtless thing for grandparents to play favorites, regardless, step or not... children do not understand. The husband should also get involved with this...if it is his parents, he should handle the situation, if it is your parents, then you should handle the situation! Regardless, no child should be left out, simply because they are step! Shame on you grandparents for being so thoughtless!

Kim - posted on 11/11/2008

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Julie, you have a tough situation on your hands. I suggest that you pray about the situtation first. I would also suggest consulting with your husband to get his perspective on the matter. I pray all works out for you.

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Wanda - posted on 08/21/2012

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I, being a grandparent, would never play favorites. You should take her aside and explain to her how this hurts. Does it hurt the child or you???? It is a thoughtless thing for grandparents to play favorites, regardless, step or not... children do not understand. The husband should also get involved with this...if it is his parents, he should handle the situation, if it is your parents, then you should handle the situation! Regardless, no child should be left out, simply because they are step! Shame on you grandparents for being so thoughtless!

Libby - posted on 07/14/2009

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Yes, definetly talk to her about it. She is not being fair at all. They are both fully her grandchildren. It shouldn't matter if they have different mothers. Obviously she holds some sort of resentment towards you. How does she treat you? I would just tell her that she needs to be fair with both of them and if she can't then she will have limited time with them. Talk to your husband about this first though.

Laura - posted on 07/13/2009

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My parents are great and my mil is interested to only to a certain degree, I have to look for ways to get her involved and then she's in FL for half the year. My you can get your mil to retire to another place(hehe). Anyhow, my parents love the kids and don't play favorites. When we do see them it's as a family most of the time. The family goes to the kids activities or at least I'm also there if my hubby can make it he will. Maybe the sleep overs are too frequent. I know it's a nice break for you but maybe she just has gotten into this habit of relating more to your daughter. Maybe if you just do things as a family for awhile and talk up both children she'll kick the habit. We go to there house for family dinners or they'll come to ours. We'll go to fairs or other activities and I almost always there, mostly because we have 3 children and it helps to have me there. When you do this put her in charge of your son while you take your daughter to the bathroom or somewhere else for a couple minutes. He'll probably do something to win her over. But, if the problem is worse than what I understanding and something needs to be said make sure it comes from your husband first.

Julie - posted on 07/13/2009

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Quoting Terese:

im so sorry!!! i typically try to be very P.C. about these things, yet... though i'm not involved in similar circumstances, my first impression was,,,,,,, FUCK HER! (again, my apologies.) i know its not 100% your decision to let your step-daughter see this wretch of a woman, but; if you have ANY variety of relationship with the girls' mother, voice your concerns to her. see how it's percieved on the other side of the fence & go from there...


actually i have 100% of the decision on whether or not she sees my daughter. Her BM wants nothing to do with my MIL and refuses to even speak to her on the phone. It is at my discretion, not my husbands, as whether or not my husband's family sees our daughters its in our written agreement.

Darcy - posted on 07/10/2009

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As far as grandma seeing our kids...she has never once mad an attempt to apologize to my son for slapping him open handed 3 times and putting her hands around his neck twice. I honestly don't blame my children for not wanting to see or even speak to her. In fact, the deputy sheriff told me that she doesn't deserve to have those children with her at any time. She admitted to him that she hit my son. I should have filed charges against her, but I didn't know what the would do to my marriage. So now it's been 7 years and she doesn't ask about my son what so ever. Neither one of the kids want to see her or speak to her. They have made their decision, they only have one grandma and that's my mother.

Marilyn - posted on 11/12/2008

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I worked in a school for years and I can tell you, the teachers hate having someone come in to eat lunch with a student on a regular basis. You should be able to say no to this. She is your child. Grandparents do not have the same rights as parents.

This lady needs to be put in her place. Now.

Brooke - posted on 11/12/2008

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ok ok, i know my postings before were way long so i will try and make this brief..... my mil plays fav to my step daughter jalyn and her mother lynda just recently wrote them in detail and told them they are not to have any contact with her per my husband because of her playing favorites. she also told her she was protecting her children. the mil made the comment that she was gonna go to school and eat lunch with jalyn so lynda sent a note to school advising the teachers and office that jalyn is to have NO VISITORS!!!!! i don't know what is wrong with these people, geez!!!

Shiloh - posted on 11/12/2008

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You should write her a letter to tell her exactly how you feel. Tell her what you need her to do differently (be specific) and tell her what will happen if she doesn't. If it is important to you or your husband that she have a relationship with your children, make sure the letter centers on your love for your children and isn't an attack, but a letter of concern. If a relationship isn't important, then say whatever horrible thing comes to mind (heh heh, just kidding).

Darcy - posted on 11/11/2008

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My mother in law smothered my son after he was born. Then I had my daughter and my son was pushed out of the favorite zone. It all came down 5 yrs ago when she did some terrible things to my son that my daughter witnessed. To make a long story short...my MIL was sending my daughter birthday and christmas cards with checks it them. Nothing for my son. After the christmas card, I sent her a very stern letter telling her that she does have only 2 grandchildren and that if she sends 1 of them a card, she needs to be sending both. No more favorites. Needless to say, she hasn't sent any cards or even seen either of them in 5 years. Not my choice....my childrens. They are 18 yrs and 14 yrs. Good luck!! Make sure your husband is on your side and sees the obvious favoritism. If you are uncomfortable talking to her, have your husband mention something.

Julie - posted on 11/11/2008

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I thought I would go through some of the questions in your replies and answer.



My husband and his mother do not really have a relationship. He has tolerated her since he was in jr. high. He has tried talking to her to no avail. Then I tried talking to her around xmas last year. explaining that if she couldn't play fair, she couldn't play at all. she told me she didn't know what I was talking about. the things I listed earlier are the most recent things she has done.



His ex and he were never married. His parents only saw her twice before our daughter was born and then not much afterwards. She does not allow them to see our daughter on her time because we have joint custody because she did not like the attitude our daughter came back with. I am the one my inlaws must ask to see either of my kids because my husband does not handle the kids' schedules.



and my mil gets a school calendar and shows up to our daugther's things on her own.



my husband and I have been together since our daughter was nine months old, she does not remember her mom and dad being together. they have very few pictures to prove it. so I have always been there since our daughter was crawling. I can't imagine that this is to make up for any shortcomings because of her mom and dad's seperation. she doesn't remember.



I think it is all about the MIL. she had three sons and went crazy on our daughter. but what I find ironic is she buys all these clothes toys etc. and leaves them at her own house. Right now, my kids together go over there twice a month from saturday night until sunday afternoon. So they can take the kids to church and my hubby and i can have us time. so our daughter has brand new outfits she never gets to wear before they are outgrown and she won't send them to my house or the other moms. My son goes over there on a regular basis on his own so that she can't play favorites( i thought). then I was over there once and heard her say now thats Kasi's, dont play with it. OK HE HAS NO TOYS WHAT THE HELL IS HE SUPPOSE TO PLAY WITH!! so I took toys for him and his Papaw to play with. Now I think his grandpa sees the favortism because he plays extra hard with Calvin trying to make it up to him.



I have also considered that this could be my fault because I refused to let them keep my son overnight when he was an infant and waited until he was two years old and ready to stay away from me. And even now he will tell them no he doesn't want to stay because he would rather be with me.





So if the talking to her does nothing, should I limit the meager time she has with my daughter now. I mean she doesnt get the kids until suppertime, which we usually stay for and then while they are bathing we leave. so they bath and head for bed shortly after, go to church the next day, and we come and get them shortly after church usually about 1-2 in the afternoon. this is every other sunday. That is more time than I or my husband ever spent with our grandparents. I think it is more than enough time and yet my mil goes and eats lunch with my daughter every week at school. It used to be more like 3+days a week, but her mom threatened to file a restraining order because that was the only way the school would stop letting my mil come to lunch. all of kasi's teachers no my MIL usually before her mom and I even get a chance to see them.



My MIL and I together when my daughter is not concerned get along pretty good. we go shopping together, talk on the phone, and even do a hobby of making cards together. My children both love and adore her. Her and Calvin sometimes play games together on his days all by himself. They giggle a lot and have special jokes between the toy of them. Its just this moments are few and far between and she is always about Kasi.

Marilyn - posted on 11/11/2008

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If I am reading this correctly, your step daughter is your husband's first child with another woman. Could it be that his mother is still upset at the divorce from his first wife and shows extra attention to her first grandchild to offset the worry she has for her? Whew...that sentence barely made sense...let me try again. Maybe your MIL is worried about the little girl because her parents split up, so MIL shows step daughter extra attention to make up for the split of her parents.

After 20 years of marriage, I finally figured out that my MIL just does not like me. There is nothing I can do to change that. I spent 20 years trying to be her friend and daughter...but for the past 10 years, I have given up on building a relationship with her. I have to say, it has been much better since I realized that MIL does not like me and I should not waste my time with her. When my inlaws retired, they moved to the town we live in...that was nearly the end of my marriage because she went out of her way to drive a wedge between my husband and myself. We finally got past all that...and now I simply avoid her at all cost.

My two youngest children would love to have a relationship with her, but they were not raised with constant criticism, so they don't know how to deal with their grandmother. I'm proud of the fact that my children are respectful of their grandmother, even though in my eyes she does not deserve it. My youngest, age 20, told her grandmother recently that she loves her and her grandmother looked surprised and answered with, "Oh well, bye now." Real nice, huh?

I guess my point to all this is that sometimes there is just nothing you can do about it. When the kids are old enough to understand, explain to them that grandma doesn't mean any harm, that she is just different and was raised differently than you were. Trust me, it won't really harm them in any way...it hurts you more than it does them. Grandparents are just icing on the cake for children. It's the parents who raise the child. They won't be warped or need therapy to get over grandma's slights.

As for what I would do...I think I would stop initiating contact with grandma. If she wants to see them, she can come to them. Stop telling her about all the kid's activities and parties. You don't have to tell her to piss off, even though that might feel great in the moment. Just stop telling her about things she could attend. If she asks, pretend you don't know the details and tell her you will get back to her about it. Then, don't get back to her. She probably won't take the hint...people lilke that never realize they are doing anything wrong. Cut her out of activities involving the kids. If she does call and demand to know when things are going to be, only tell her about your son's events at first.
I KNOW no one is going to think my ideas are good. We live in a "let's talk about it" world where honesty is the best policy. Well, that might be true on lifetime movies, but in real life, we deal with flawed people. Life is not a television show that can be wrapped up in 60 minutes with a happy ending. Cut her out. It's not worth the stress it is causing you.

Brooke - posted on 11/11/2008

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i am very close to her mother, i would call her one of my bestfriends. some people dont get it but she respects me and knows that she can count on me for anything. especially considering that jalyn has cystic fibrosis. the grandmother has said before that she would take jalyn's mother to court for grand parents rights but she wouldn't have any ground to stand on considering that since the 2 years that she has been diagnosed she has only been to the hospital once and that is when she was initially diagnosed. she has not been to any doctor visits since. what's so bad is jalyn was hospitalized in Atlanta once where she lives and she didn't even go and see her. She actually told my husband (while he was still with jalyn's mother) that he didn't need to stay at the hospital cause he didn't need to miss any work, wtf? she's gone 6 months without even calling her and it's always about her not anyone else. anytime she introduces jalyn to anyone this is her exact quote.."this is my granddaughter Jalyn, she has cystic fibrosis". Lynda her mother isn't answering any of her phone calls or text messages because she told her earlier this week how she felt about the entire situation. they are still trying to call her. another thing that is so bad is that my monster n law doesn't work...she lives in Atlanta in a 550,000.00 house. All she does is meet her husband for lunch and shops and stirs up crap constantly. everytime anyone calls her on it, she always turns it back around on poor little pitiful her........ugh!!! honestly i'm glad that she is not currently in our lives because i want to protect my children, i just don't know how she can do that to her son. if she ever does want to have anything to do with us me and her will have a TALK!!!

Andrea - posted on 11/11/2008

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You should not be the one to confront your MIL. It is your husband's responsibility to talk to his mother and defend his family. If you bring it up, you'll be the "bad daughter in law". Mothers and sons have a special relationship, and he needs to use that to his advantage. Talk to your husband and ask him how he is going to handle it.

Terese - posted on 11/11/2008

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im so sorry!!! i typically try to be very P.C. about these things, yet... though i'm not involved in similar circumstances, my first impression was,,,,,,, FUCK HER! (again, my apologies.) i know its not 100% your decision to let your step-daughter see this wretch of a woman, but; if you have ANY variety of relationship with the girls' mother, voice your concerns to her. see how it's percieved on the other side of the fence & go from there... if you need to vent, feel free to e mail me directly @ teresestefan76@hotmail.com

Melissa - posted on 11/11/2008

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Jes,



It's the same for us. It's MY mother who plays favorites, and our son isn't even 3 months old yet. My daughter, who is 4, is mine from a previous relationship. My mom dotes on her and she could get away with murder. It's so irritating. My mom helped me out at lot when i had my daughter, and seems to think that no that I'm married and have a son that we're ignoring our daughter. My husband thinks of her as his own, and is a better dad to her than her biological father would've been. He's never been in her life at all. My daughter has her own room at my mom's that she got to pick the paint for and everything. It's like my mom could careless about her grandson. She never wants to hold him when we see her, or even really pay ANY attention to him. It's all about her granddaughter. And there are times when i've heard my mom call herself mom to MY daughter. We've almost hit the point where my mom's not going to see either of her grandkids till she smartens up and wants to see both of them and not just her granddaughter. It's not really fair to the kids, but we don't see it as fair to Keifer. If she's this bad now, how much worse is it going to get as they get older. We want to stop it before it progresses too far to be undone. We're going to be sitting down and having a talk about it soon. Hopefully it goes well. Talking to her about it is the best advice I have at the moment.

Brooke - posted on 11/11/2008

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GIRL!!!! Let me just tell you that I have the monster n law from hell. i know she has horns, no lol. It really helps if your husband is on your side. My husband has 2 daughters (1 is six) from two diff relationships....one that we just found out for sure is his (she is 2). I have 2 children from a previous marriage 14 yr old boy and six yr old girl) and my husband and I have 1 son together. Alot I know, lol. We have been married for 1 1/2 years and all was good to begin with until she started to see that i made him become a man and more responsible as a parent, as he should be. Well she is an alpha female and so am I. Although I have always been respectful because that is his mother, until our two 6 yr old daughters went to stay with her over the summer and when they came back slowly my daughter started telling me little things here and there about her playing the favorite game....i do not tolerate this. she's tried to do this before and i put my foot down and stood my ground. i made arrangements for Thanksgiving last year and told her we were all coming up together as a family and she tried to go behind my back and pick her biological granddaughter up a day early....first of all this would have devistated both of the girls because they are so close. she flipped her lid, as usual and finally came out and told my husband that she wanted to spend one on one time with HER granddaughter but she guessed she wouldn't be able to. Sorry, back to the week long visit this summer i found out that she did play favorites and also when she brought them back and told my husbands ex...whom i am very close to...that she would never get both of them at the same time again because it was just too demanding, and my child has psycological issues....ok, my child is one of the most normal polite kid you will ever meet. she always has her manners and i can always correct her with a look i will give her. that was one of the last straws for my husband i. not to mention that she has only seen our son 1 time the weekend after he was born, she held him for 5 minutes and was too busy showing off her pics from their vacation to Italy. she also got ticked off at me that day because i got onto my stepdaughter for spitting at the dinner table(i only say that to try not to confuse you, i always call her MY daughter). Our son is now 4 1/2 months old and she has yet to call and ask how he is doing. She also said she would no longer go through us to make arrangements to pick Jalyn up she would go straight to her mother. My husband informed his ex that when she calls to let her know she needed to call him for any future contact with her. When we just recently met with his 2 yr old daughter's family, i informed them to have absolutely NO contact with her, everything should go through my husband. It's very important to voice your opinion, but let your husband maybe approach it first to maybe ease the cituation. If it doesn't help by all means let the claws come out, you have that right as a mother to protect your children. All of our kids are equal. From my experience with this, it does effect the children involved...my daughter brought it up just the other day and expressed how much it hurt her feelings and she didn't understand why she would act that way towards her when she didn't do anything wrong. oh, i could go on and on with this. sorry such a long response, lol. just needed to vent

Jes - posted on 11/11/2008

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I know just what you mean, except It's not my mother-in-law It's MY mother. I have 3 kids all boys, ages 4, 2, and 1 and my mother is always playing favorites with my 4 yr. old. She lets him get away with EVERYTHING and goes out and buys him clothes and shoes, candy and toys and gets NOTHING for the other 2. She even takes him everywhere with her and won't take any of the other boys. I'm always telling her that whats fair for 1 is fair for the others but she doesn't see it that way and because of that I'm finding myself spoiling the other 2 just to make seem fair to them. It's hard cause you can't keep them from seeing their Grandmother and punish them for something she's doing but at the same time you can't keep letting your son get hurt when he sees his sister get all this stuff and he gets nothing. Try talking to her and explain that it really does hurt him to see that and if she really cares about her Grandson (like she should and probably does) then she'll stop otherwise, yeah I would tell her to piss off like I've told my mother a few times. Good Luck and I hope everything works out

Angela - posted on 11/11/2008

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This is a very touchy subject and I'm sure everyone has their own take. I know what I would do, but it might not be good for you. There are so many conditions that play on this. Is she nice? Is she easy to talk to? If you questioned her about this in a positive way would she get defensive right away? Ultimately if you and the children are going to continue to be a part of her life, then at some point you will need to have a conversation with her. It's not right or healthy to keep your feelings bottled up. The tension will only build until you blow up. If you think you can freely talk to her maybe invite her to lunch, but without the children. The one thing to keep in mind & to remind her is that it is all about the children. Just remember to have a babysitter when and if you have a talk with her. I wish you the best of luck and my prayers. Remember this is just my opinion and I am not a professional. Go with your heart. Best Wishes to you.

Lisa - posted on 11/11/2008

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I know it would be a heck of a conversation, but have you talked to her about it? Maybe since it's your step-daughter the grandma thinks she needs to go above and beyond what she would normally do in order to 'win' the step-granddaughter's affection? Maybe they just bonded better or she feels more comfortable with the girl. No excuse for obvious favoritism.
Growing up my grandma favored my cousin over my siblings and I and when we were little it hurt us so bad. Now that we are older and understand that my cousin's parents were into drugs, alcohol, and just bad stuff and all she had was my grandma it's a little easier for us to understand. I remember one Christmas when my cousin had 10 times as many presents as the rest of us did, my aunt let her choose 4 (the same # the rest of us had) and the rest weren't even opened and donated to charity.
Hopefully, you can salvage the relationship between you and your mil and help her have a better relationship with her grandson, it would be sad to put a fork in the road over something that can definitely be helped!
If you don't want to talk to her, maybe confide in your husband - I make mine handle all in law issues - and ask him to confront his mom about it. Or maybe you and your mil have a mutual friend that could breach the topic for you!

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