Has anyone been in a situation where your in-laws (or other close family member) favour one of your children over the other?
My mil clearly favours DD(5) over DS(2). I know she wanted a daughter, and in her own words 'only got sons'.
It started even before DS was born (we didn't find out the sex for for either pregnancy) where she was not interested in the pregnancy at all and was spiteful at times, and she booked a holiday for just after he was born so didn't spend much time with him as a tiny baby. She had been super excited about my pregnancy with DD and couldn't get enough baby cuddles.
She doesn't respond well to us setting boundaries with her so I doubt a 'chat' is going to help much. She's never been nice towards me (don't get me started) but now she's doing it to my children I'm not prepared to put up with it.
Has anyone got any advice?
Not personally, but my ex-H (eldest of four) was born to a boyfriend/fling his mum has just before she married his stepfather. His stepfather's family treated my ex-H like crap, to the point they'd have their other three grandchildren's photos all over their house and not one of him. Christmas presents for the rest and none for him.
His mother should not have allowed it but she was a bit strange herself and my ex-H was estranged from both parents in adulthood.
There is no doubt in my mind that many of my ex-H's problems were created by growing up in that toxic mess.
I am glad you are going to protect your children from that. What's your DH's take on it all?
I have two brothers, my mother and my grandmother favouritised the boys over me, it did hurt but I got used to it.
This may sound harsh but my only advice to you is to keep them away from her because children do pick up on these things.
It's awful when a relative favours one child over another. Try to put some distance between her and the children if you can and explain how you feel to DH.
I've seen first hand the damage favouritism can do to a person (DH being that person) Don't let her affect your children in that way
My grandmother favoured the boys in the family over me. She did it with her own children, then her grandchildren. It made me feel closer to my other grandmother; though in the years before her death, when she was ill, we got closer.
It's not fair and you should limit contact, especially if she's not nice to you either
What does your DH say about it?
I can't imagine this, and I don't understand the thinking behind it. Is she trying to drive you away?
Watching with interest. My inlaws dote on my 20 month old dd. Look after her regularly and even ask to have her but show virtually no interest at all in 4 month old ds.
I have grown up always feeling in competition with my siblings and they know this. Dh is on my side but hasn't got the guts to tackle them over it. I think he's hoping they'll be better when ds is mobile and more entertaining!
The thing is, it's hard to challenge if it's not favouritism that's outright material unfairness, but a feeling that they like one child more than another
It's just occurred to me that my MIL clearly liked one of mine more than the other when they were younger. It was the one who was less obviously winning, smiley and social. I felt it very deeply, and it was in contrast to my own mum who manages to find the best in every child.
Now they are teens, things have improved massively.
Sorry, in my post above I meant she preferred the one who was more social
Thank you for your replies! Such sad stories, I can't imagine playing favourites like that My parents always tried very hard to make sure my siblings and I were loved equally and do the same for my children.
Theyoncesaid, I would cut off all contact if DH would agree to it but can't see it happening.
Dowager, given her toxic behaviour before we had children, I do wonder whether she is doing this to spite me and dh.
She likes to try and physically separate DD from us every time we see them (take her off to another room or the park etc). We are trying to put a stop to it. We are in a constant power struggle with her.
Notyoda, yes it's hard because it isn't always material favouritism, often very subtle. Very hard to challenge as she will make BS excuses.
We only see them once a month which is more than enough.
DH is getting better at calling her out on her bad behaviour but it's hard as her behaviour is subtle and she always has excuses ready for everything.
Also, if you believe everything she says, her parents favoured her brother over her, so favouritism and sexism are fairly normal for her.
I'm worried she'll try to turn my children against one another
What an awful situation for you, OP!
You really, really need to get DH on board with this. It's good that he is noticing and calling her out on stuff. It's a great start, but this is so important and serious, that you need him to pick up on problems 100% of the time. I wonder if you could show him information/studies from child psychologists that show just how damaging this stuff can be. Being a loving father, he won't want his kids to be hurt and suffer in this way.
The PA stuff from your MIL often gets missed by men (I had my own problems with a PA MIL) so you need to maybe show him examples and articles on how subtle and sneaky this behaviour can be. It's DESIGNED to fly under the radar so they don't get called on it.
You need to start discussing with your DH stuff like does MIL ever get to be alone with your kids when they are older? Sounds like she couldn't be trusted. Are you both ready to present a united front on unsupervised visits/stays?
Has your DH got siblings? What was the family dynamic like there?
<Disclaimer: I have not got children of my own>
Thanks fatty, you have made some good points, and have some great ideas. You are right, we need to sort this before it gets worse. Now you say it, it seems obvious that her behaviour is designed to fly under the radar and that's scary.
We don't allow mil to babysit or have alone time with the children any more. I know it's going to be harder to enforce when the children get older so we need to be on the ball.
Their family dynamic is strange. DH has a brother. They are close in age but never really got along. I have my suspicious that MIL had a lot to do with it. She is very competitive and also enjoys pitting people against one another (she's tried to do it with me and my DH) When we visit the brother, mil likes to muscle in and be there too, dominating the conversation. She talks negatively about the brother and his wife to us behind their backs and I expect she is unpleasant about us to them. They don't seem to care or look out for one another as a family in the same way as many families do.
Having thought about it more, I think the only option is very low supervised contact for the foreseeable future. She's shown her true colours and I don't trust her. Grandmother or not, she doesn't get to ruin my children's relationships with each other (and probably us too)
FIL favours DD over DS. He takes DD out every Sunday and leaves DS with us. I don't know how to handle it as DS is too young to understand properly yet but the time is coming.
The reason FIL favours DD is he had a daughter and she died of cot death and DD is the first female child born in his family since then...so its a really delicate subject
Yes, both sets of grandparents have always favoured DD over DS,maybe because she was the first GC on one side and the first girl on the other? Either way, it has been very hurtful for DS and for me. XH never did anything about it, but I went NC with DM (over other similar issues) and only DD stays in contact with her now they are both teens.
If DH won't back you up this could turn into a serious issue. If they are not pleasant to you, why do you see them so often?
My mother massively favours my sister's children over mine. It's quite obvious and my eldest has noticed. I don't have any advice. I've tried remonstrating politely, remonstrating firmly, having it out with them but it only led to arguments and sulks. I wouldn't really care about them having favourites if they made a bit of effort to hide it. It's horrid and we are now low contact with them.
I've never been in the situation myself but my pils very clearly favour their daughter over their sons. My dp has grown to realise this in recent years, though to me as an outsider it was clear from the start. It is such blatant favouritism, I think it wasn't picked up by him sooner because he has three brothers and the four were all treated alike and they were taught that girls are very different. If I were in your situation I'd make dh have a word and tell her if she didn't treat them the same you would be limiting contact - and see it through.
My Paternal grandmother favoured me I was her first GC and as she had three boys finally having a baby girl in the family was her dream come true. It was evident to my siblings and cousins, and my parents and other grandparents tried to compensate for it. She was loving and generous to her other GCs, but I was singled out for special attention all the time and as a result my siblings/cousins could get quite resentful towards me. I'd try to deny it to everyone but as she got older and less bothered about people's opinions she even told me to my face I was her favourite although I'm sure she didn't say it to anyone else, she knew it was wrong. It used to upset me no end to be singled out but at the same time to be loved like that was incredible and I miss her every day. I know it upset my parents tho, especially my Mum who'd never been considered quite 'good enough' in the first place (although thankfully Grandma revised that opinion over time) She didn't favour me in her will thank goodness as that would have been painful for all concerned.
So I sympathise with you- I'm now about to have the first GC in my generation & I would hate for my DD to be overlooked or singled out. With hindsight as an adult it's hard to know how my parents could have handled it any differently. It seems however your MIL is not just favouring one child but being dismissive of the other and that's got to be damaging. I would reduce contact in that situation as your children will pick up on this and it will affect them. Best of luck x
My GM, who brought me up, accused me of hitting DS1's head off the floor when he was 2. By way of apology, when things had calmed down, she said she'd always preferred little boys. That made me feel lovely. I never forgave her.
My aunt definitely favours DD2 over DS2, she often has her to stay and takes her for holidays on her houseboat. DS2's started noticing now, and I don't know what to say to him. We can't afford holidays.
As a child, I was my paternal grandmother's least favourite grandchild. How do I know? Because she told me!
I'd always known deep down and one day asked her outright who her favourite GC was. She then started with her favourite and gave reasons why and then went through a list with me being last. At such a young age, I couldn't believe my ears! I knew it deep down but I never thought she would openly admit it to my face with explanations!
After that, I lost a lot of respect for her and, as soon as I was old enough, I stopped visiting. When my parents asked me why I no longer wanted to go, I told them the truth. My mum was completely behind me but I don't think anything was ever said. If this was my poor child, I would have gone steaming in there pointing out how deeply unkind this favouritism was.
It has affected me into adulthood. I resent my dad for never challenging his mother about her behaviour towards me. I also feel resentment towards my cousins (who are all male, FWIW) for being somehow better and more likeable than me. For years I wondered what was wrong with me an what I had done wrong to illicit this response. I think it simply boiled down to the fact I was a girl. I grew up hating my grandmother after this.
MIL favours my SIL's children over ours. She isn't unkind to mine but has never taken even half the interest in ours that she does over SIL's. I've just learnt to keep a peaceful distance over the years and as a consequence dc's can pretty much take or leave seeing them.
Fortunately they are the only grandchildren on my side so they do all right for attention from my parents. My mum is definately closer to ds1 and my dad is closer to ds2 but they treat them equally.
We have almost the exact same problem with a relative and are handling it in a similar way - no time alone with DC or babysitting duties (thankfully with DH on the same page as me). We are kind of on hold at the moment - keeping an eye on the situation because it is currently manageable and the DC are little, but with a threshold of 'if we think it's having a palpable influence on the DC' as a cut-off to consider reluctantly reducing contact.
We don't want to be mean, but ultimately our DC's well-being is way more important than their feelings. We have decided not to have any sort of warning conversation about favouritist behaviour though, and just to challenge it as it arises. The reason for this is that our relative can be manipulative and bloody-minded and we fear they might change their angle of approach to hide the fact that are favouring one child - we absolutely want to witness it when it happens and not give them a heads up. It is difficult though; we're not wanting to bait them into a trap either, so we do say if with we're not happy with something and hope they get the message.
I'm one of three girls and my grandfather used to take the middle one (she was the 'naughty' one) out for special trips to the theatre, get her presents etc. Looking back I don't know why my parents allowed if. To be fair though generally my grandmother tried to do something with me and the other one when a special thing had been arranged but it was never as 'good'. It's totally wrong for anyone to show they have a favourite! Could your do have a word with her?
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