In laws playing favorites

Nikki - posted on 04/20/2016 ( 3 moms have responded )




My in laws are playing favorites big time and I am wondering if anyone has experience with this? My son is the first born grandchild for my in laws but as soon as my niece was born it was obvious she was their preferred grandchild. I also have a daughter who is the last and third born to them. They hardly acknowledge my daughter at all. There are so many scenarios to even list with things that they have done to show favoritism and my son is starting to notice. I don't want my son or my daughter's feelings getting hurt but my husband is worried that if we mention it that it will make waves. My son actually asked me the other day why they love my niece more and I didn't know what to say! I of course wanted to protect his feelings so I said, "oh no! they love you all the same." It made me upset though. He's smart and he picks up on stuff! They spend a lot more time with SIL'S daughter. They take her places, let her have sleep overs all the time while our kids are a "hassle." This past Christmas every grandchild was supposed to get 2 toys from them. My son got two, my daughter one and my niece got 4. It was so awkward!! I have been a stay at home mom since my son was born on and off because I have had to quit a job twice because they just up and decide they don't want to babysit. I've learned my lesson and put my kids in part time daycare but they won't even watch our kids if we ask in a pinch if they can't attend daycare or what not. They watch my niece for free no questions asked, drive 15 miles to pick her up and drop her off while they're working and whenever they need. My SIL and BIL really lay it on thick about everything going on in their life. We try not to make waves but it's getting out of hand as they took my niece somewhere special tonight when we actually needed them to babysit. Sorry needed to vent and would love to here your experiences!


Jessica - posted on 05/06/2016




I know exactly how you are feeling. Here's what I believe, for some reason when you enter a new family as say, the mother's son's girlfriend/wife you are not quite part of the family. So say this same mother has a daughter and both her son AND daughter have two children each. Regardless of ages the mother will almost always favor the daughter and her daughters children more than her son's. Or her son's wife's children. This is a huge problem for the Mom's who are married into the family (like you) and it's taken out on the children. It's cruel and completely unfair but I've been where you are. Twice actually, once with my ex of six years and now with my fiance of four years. I never married my ex but we had the first two grandchildren. Two boys, they were special at first and then my ex's sister's each had two of their own. Then...our two weren't so special anymore. They wouldn't treat them fairly or babysit. They would ask for money to watch them. Funny how thier daughter's didn't have to pay money for a sitter but their son and myself had to. I eventually got pushed to my breaking point at my ex's sister's wedding. I dealt with it best I could for a few years but as you put it, it was time to make waves. Time to stand up for my kids and myself. So I did just that. No one else would speak on our behalf so I had to. After I got my point across and called them out on the unfair treatment, it seemed to go away. They stopped treating the grandkids differently and began to treat my boys the way they deserved to be treated. I'm glad I stuck up for them. Lucky for me, my boys weren't old enough to catch on. Everything got straightened out. Just had to get through some drama and arguing. Sure they were mad with me but I did what was right and they knew it. I wish you the very best, my advice would be to stand up for your children and yourself. You'll feel so much better and it's what's right. If your children's grandparents cannot treat them fairly you should mention some possible consequences for their actions. Since it's hurting your children's feelings. Tell them what your kids are telling you. I'd speak directly to his mother, with or without your husband's consent. Your choice. Good luck!! & You are not alone

Raye - posted on 04/21/2016




I'm so sorry your in-laws can't try to make things fair. And sorry your husband is unwilling to have a conversation with them and ask them to be more considerate. What it boils down to, though, is you can't control them. If their actions are deliberate, even if your husband did talk to them, there's no guarantee they'd listen. Or, if they changed at all, it would probably be temporary and they would revert back to their old ways after a while. So, what you can do is just limit your contact with them, and limit your children's contact with them.

Why do they do it? There's one theory that seems it may have some validity regarding them favoring your niece over your son. That theory postulates that a grandmother will naturally prefer her granddaughters -- with whom she shares more DNA than her grandsons. There have been many studies that claim to prove that firstborns are most often given preferential treatment, and also firstborns of a particular gender receiving favored treatment. So, while your daughter would actually have more DNA in common with your husband's mother than your husband's sister's daughter, she would have two strikes against her... being the second girl, and the third born. If these theories of favoritism are true, it still would not excuse the grandparents behavior, because they should care about all their grandkid's well-being and try to treat all the grandkids as equally as possible, or at least try to do so in front of the others. But, sadly, you've had no such luck.

So, how to best handle it with your kids? If my kid asked me about the special treatment, I don't think I would tell such an obvious lie and say "they love everyone the same". Your kid knows the difference, and will know you're not being on the level with them. Of course you want to protect your child's feelings, but that kind of lie could be just as damaging to them. A less obvious lie would be to say that the other child/parents need the extra help/attention because they are less self-sufficient than your family... so the grandparents know they don't need to do as much for you and you'll still be okay. By pointing out that you/your kids are strong enough to get by without the special treatment is a valuable lesson. Your son may then feel sorry for his cousin instead of feeling jealous. Also, there are many times throughout our lives that other people get treated differently, and it's a good thing for the kid to realize that and be able to move on.

Another positive of the situation would be that you may be relieved of some larger family gathering obligations, freeing up your family's time to make memories together. This could also mean that your in-laws won't hover over you or question every decision you make as a parent. Having that kind of freedom is priceless! And maybe you're off the hook for caring for these people when they get too feeble to care for themselves. Leave that to the "favored" ones who got all the benefit of the grandparents attention, and should be obligated to return the favor (this last is petty and selfish, but hey, they brought it on themselves).

So, try not to spend too much of your energy on being concerned about that they do. They don't deserve to have that power over you. Just try to be the better person and get by without their involvement. If you show your kids love, then they won't be missing out on anything. You're a great mom... you so got this!!!


View replies by

Amy - posted on 05/03/2016




Hi Nikki,
I am so sorry that you and your children are going through this. I know this makes family dynamics very though. I think you are doing the right thing by shielding and reaffirming your children. Have you and your husband discussed going to your in laws to have a discussion about this? I know that may be tough but it might help to get things out in the open. I was recently on another blog and saw a similar situation. I will link it so you can see the advice that was given because it seemed to be really helpful.
I hope this helps!

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms