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Grandparents and favouritism

(7 Posts)
Catsdontcare Tue 16-Aug-11 13:22:45

I've seen a few threads about this and I didn't want to hijack one that is currently running.

Basically MIL favours BIL children over ours. It was less noticable to me when they were smaller but now it is becoming more and more obvious and I am starting to feel resentful to the point of wanting little to do with her. Question is am I being extreme?

It's more about the time and effort she put in with BIL children rather than the way she acts around them. Examples being

Taking BIL children away every year for a week
looks after them after school every day (I'm a sahm so I don't need this sort of help but it irks me because she has to walk past our house after school pick up and NEVER pops in to see my dc on the way back)
Takes them on days out
Has promised DS a couple of time that she is going to take him somewhere and the not done but has taken BIL children.
Spends unequal amounts on them at birthdays.

I don't know how to tackle it. DH acknowledges it and is happy to pull back from her and see her less but they are a very "involved" family in someways and there always seems to be a reason why we need to see her.

Any advice?

venusandmars Tue 16-Aug-11 13:51:45

My own experience has been that there is nothing you can do about it that is not destructive to other wider family relationships sad

Pulling back from grandparents because of this only creates distance between you and your dcs, and the rest of the family. If you get on OK with the rest of the family then it can be counterproductive.

In my case, we pointed it out to the GPs, just in case they hadn't noticed that it was happening, or they didn't know the effect it was having on other dc. But after that we just worked around it. In my case GM had a very close attachment to one dc - that dc loved to do all the things that GM was interested in, and the relationship seemed rather special. Disrupting that would have felt unfair to both of them. In retrospect I can see that favoured dc was very like GM's younger sibling who had died in childhood.

Other dc was different - more 'difficut', rather bookish. We used the time that favoured dc was with GM to spend special time with other dc. Both dc's knew that WE loved them equally and they knew that GM and favoured dc liked to spend time on projects that other dc would have hated.

My friend is GP to 5 dGC. She looks after 2 of them after school/nursery 4 days per week. She is exhausted by it. She loves them, but she would rather that she didn't have to do it. When they go back to their dm (single parent) the last thing my friend has the energy for is going to visit the other 3 GC. However much she loves them, the circumstances of each family and her life are such that she spends huge amounts of time with 2 GC, and little time with the others.

It would be lovely if everything in the world was equal, but sometimes it isn't and we have to work our way around that.

Catsdontcare Tue 16-Aug-11 15:01:04

Thank you for your reply. You are right that it would cause problems on a wider family level so I feel that I do have to keep things civil. It is very disappointing though to watch this happen.

Mil is a complex character anyway so confronting her would probably cause a major row.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 16-Aug-11 15:12:41

Why are these children more favoured exactly?. Do you know the reasons why?.

Does your DH notice this favouritism and if so how does he comment on it to you?.

Whatever you decide presenting a united front with regards to these people is critical.

Your son may or may not notice; problem is too that this sort of thing can cause divisions that are not healed between the children particularly in later life if one lot of children are more favoured.

I would actually adopt the attitude that your DH has; i.e being happy to pull back from her and seeing her less.

Your MIL sounds bloody difficult dare I say toxic to be honest. Is it always her way or no way?. Is this actually what you mean by them being a very "involved" family?.

Catsdontcare Tue 16-Aug-11 15:20:36

I have no idea why there is favouritism tbh. You are spot on though she likes to be in controll and openly sulks if you don't take her advice or do it her way. Actually this may be where the problem lies as dh and I are very independent and don't invite her input and opinions as much as the rest of the family do.
Dh only notices it because I point it out he just doesn't give much thought to it I guess.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 16-Aug-11 15:26:34

Also your DH has grown up with her so this familial style of dysfunctional behaviour is normalised to him. Easier too for him not to confront her directly as it is very painful to actually deal with.

MILs favouritism may be because in her eyes their parents are more "compliant" with regards to her overbearing wishes and agree more to doing things her way.

You carry on as you are and concentrate primarily on making your own family unit as happy as possible for you all. I would limit all contact with toxic MIL as much as humanely possible. BTW her favouritism too shown towards the other children is actually not without price.

Is FIL around, if so what is he like?.

Catsdontcare Tue 16-Aug-11 15:35:14

I'm relating to everything you are saying. Even when she does something helPful it feels like it comes with strings.

Fil is very nice I suspect if he came on mumsnet and posted as a woman he would be told he was being emotionally abused and that he should head for the hills! I often wonder if he'll pop out for milk one day and not come back

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