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A bit like Cinderella and her Stepsisters?

(9 Posts)
Earlybird Sun 12-Jul-09 17:12:50

Need a bit of outsider perspective here please.

Dd has no grandparents and no father. A close cousin has been a big presence in our lives, and has happily (for us and her) become 'default' grandmother to dd. Whenever anyone asks, this cousin will say something like 'oh yes, we love X (dd) very much, and think of her as a grandchild'.

The dilemma - this cousin doesn't treat dd in the same way she treats her own grandchildren. An example: we recently went to a small neighbourhood summer fair where the children decorated bicycles/scooters/wagons and paraded to a playground where they played and had ice cream. Our cousin brought her grandchildren balloons (to decorate their 'vehicles') but nothing for dd. She also brought her grandchildren toy noisemakers to use in the parade, but nothing for dd (May be relevant to say that dd is 8 and grandchildren range from 6 downward).

At Christmas, she always gets dd a few thoughtful presents, but her own grandchildren get more presents and ones that are noticeably more elaborate/expensive.

This cousin makes regular special efforts to see her grandchildren, but sees us mainly at my instigation (though she does include us in family events).

Our cousin does lovely things for dd, and our lives are definitely enriched by her presence in our lives. But, I have trouble getting past the 'double standard'. There are regular reminders that, even though she claims dd as a grandchild, dd is treated differently. DD doesn't seem to notice, though I'm sure she will as she gets older.

Your thoughts?

Twims Sun 12-Jul-09 17:21:30

YABtotally unreasonable even though this isn't in AIBU..

You say that your daughter has no real family but a cousin is a big presence in her life and has enriched it however she doesn't buy your daughter loads of expensive stuff and isn't treating her like a grandaughter. Remember that she is not your child's grandmother and that although she has chosen to be part of your life that she doesn't have to be in it or buy your dd anything.

I have several children in my life who like your daughter don't have much of an extended family and I would be devestated and throughly pissed off if I found out that their parent/s thought that I wasn't spending enough money on them. It is my choice to spoil them - and in fact I get into trouble for doing that a lot of the time but it's not my responsibility to do it.

Earlybird Sun 12-Jul-09 17:31:46

Oh dear - I didn't mean to give the impression that my concern is about my cousin not spending the same amount of money on dd. It's honestly not about the money, and perhaps my OP focused on that too much. Thanks for pointing that out so I could clarify.

My concern is more about our cousin saying dd is 'just like a grandchild' but then treating her differently - whether making an effort to see her, or other more tangible things.

As I said, I am grateful that she is in dd's life (and mine too). At the heart of this is I feel badly that dd doesn't have much chance to be loved and doted on by others due to our family situation.

Twims Sun 12-Jul-09 17:34:56

Could you make more of an effort to see them? Invite them round etc? Or get dd to write them letters or postcards just to say hi/or call them?

Earlybird Sun 12-Jul-09 17:50:05

We do make a real effort to see her. During term time, we have a 'regular' evening where we invite her for supper once a week, and she joins us maybe 50% of the time.

We also invite her to come to the beach with us. Our cousin will join us when she brings her daughter/grandchildren, but has so far, has not come just with us.

She frequently asks to do the school run for her grandchildren so she can spend time with them. She has never asked to do that for dd, though in fairness, has collected dd for me once or twice when I had a conflict.

I really don't mean to sound ungrateful. Perhaps I need to adjust my thinking and be happy for whatever is offered rather than being so painfully aware of the different treatment.

I suppose (as I said earlier), I wish more than anything that dd had adoring grandparents/aunties/uncles. I see my cousin doing that happily/unreservedly for her own grandchildren, and I wish dd was fully a part of that 'inner circle' rather than a sometime participant.

Twims Sun 12-Jul-09 19:03:37

I think that sadly that nothing will change and you need to just say well at least she does have someone else in her life.

HuffwardlyRudge Sun 12-Jul-09 19:15:41

Well she obviously doesn't think of your daughter as a grandchild. This doesnt mean that she isn't very fond of her though. I think you need to stop thinking of your cousin as a grandmother figure, and just appreciate her for what she is. As long as you clarify to your dd that cousin isn't a grandmother, there is no reason why dd would expect to be treated the same as the grandchildren. I think you need to be careful of dd picking up on all of your anxieties about this.

Earlybird Mon 13-Jul-09 01:11:19

I guess you both are right, but it is a mixed message.

She makes a point of saying (whenever it comes up) 'yes, we think of X as our 6th grandchild'. I love the sentiment, and the fact that she thinks of dd with real affection, but have trouble when the differentiation begins, because it always catches me short - especially when it is blatant. I don't think a child understands why her 'grandmother' buys everyone else a balloon for the parade, but leaves one child out because she isn't a 'true' grandchild.

Wouldn't it be far more honest all the way around for our cousin to say something like 'Yes, isn't X lovely. We're very fond of her'.

Somehow, I need to teach myself to be grateful for what comes, and learn to ignore the different treatment.

PortAndLemon Mon 13-Jul-09 02:19:27

She clearly doesn't think of her exactly as another grandchild. But she thinks of her as closer than a cousin.

Do you actually want her, whenever anybody asks, to say "oh yes, we love X quite a lot... more than 'a bit', but less than 'very much' and we think of her as... oooh... well, you know, sort of like a niece. Or possibly a great-niece. Closer than a cousin, anyway, but not quite a grandchild..."

Is your DD actually upset by the situation? If so you could say something like "DD is really devoted to you, but she's having a bit of a hard time at the moment coming to terms with not having any grandparents, so I wondered if you could avoid describing her as 'like a grandchild' when she's in earshot, because obviously she isn't quite the same as a grandchild and I think she's getting confused". Otherwise I really think you need to find something else to fret about.

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