what to do about in-laws with a child preference?

[deleted account] ( 1 mom has responded )

Hi all,

I need some advice. Just an idea of what other moms would do in my situation.

I have 3 wonderful boys - all bright, energetic, funny, and happy. One is 6, one is 4, and one it 1. I have been trying to raise them well, with equal treatment and treats for all.

But an issue has arisen that I did not expect. My in-laws and my husband's sister visit us, occasionally, and I have noticed that, when given the chance to interact with all three boys, my relatives seem to always end up playing and praising my oldest, while leaving the two younger ones to fend for themselves. At first, I thought it was just circumstance, but it has become worse over time. If they interact with the younger ones at all, it is brief, and usually involves them trying to get pictures with the child. For example, today the baby will toddled up to show his grandma a new block. She grabbed the camera, flashed it in his face, and then walked away. Poor baby didn't understand. And my four year old's only interactions are to be chastised for "interrupting" their activities with his older brother. Another problem is my husband's sister tells bad jokes, and frequently they are subtly at the expense of my younger children. My boys are too young to comprehend that one, thank heaven.

Well, I am trying to be a gracious host, and be warm and welcoming, but I cannot have this sort of preferential treatment in our family. I'm not even sure they are conscious of it. It would seem like it is an unconscious preference for the oldest male child. I have seen hints of this type of thinking in a few of the extended family on that side too.

So, what can I do? They are sensitive and easily offended people, and I am treading on eggshells already as it is. I feel like I am too young to have much authority with my husband's family. Can I change this without completely alienating my husband and boys from his family? It is hurting relations already.

Thank you very much for your advice.

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Venesia - posted on 12/31/2012

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Maybe you could talk to your husband about this and ask him, to talk to them, with out mentioning your name. They possible think that the younger ones doesn't understand, so they interact with the older one.
There are some people that prefer boy children than girls which I find very upsetting, these sort of behaviour comes in all form.

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