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DS being treated differently to the other GC in the family. (Long)

(29 Posts)
QuizzicalCat Thu 10-Jan-13 22:50:43

I have NC for this.

DS is 5 and the youngest of six GC. He's a lovely little chap, happy, polite, generally well behaved etc. (Not me being PFB - I know I'm lucky - just hoping I'll be as lucky when he hits his teens --is anyone that lucky?!--).

I have often wondered if he is treated differently to the other GC in the family and having recently spent Christmas with the ILs I think he really is.

The other GC got two or three quite expensive Christmas presents each from the GP - DS got one joint present from the ILs - all of them, DHs two brothers and his parents. It's a nice present, admittedly, but cost the same as one of the presents the others got, and they also got seperate presents from their Uncles.

I know Christmas isn't about money, but when a child gets one present to everyone else getting five I just think it's unfair - it's not about monetary value - he doesn't see money, he sees parcels. Particularly as we were at the GPs for Christmas and he got to see the others presents and hear them say "This one is from Granny and Grampsy, and this one is from Uncle X and Auntie XX, and this one was from Granny and Grampsy too."

For his birthday DS got a £10 note in his card - nice to have a present - but the other GC got actual parcels, in the plural. And again, costing significantly more (by significantly I mean £50-£60 each).

In addition the GP often buy all the GC (except DS) books or pyjamas or whatever and say they will do the same for DS, but then nothing ever materialises. So many things have been promised over the years and not appeared. When I was pregnant with DS DH and I made a list of the things we needed to buy, and various family members offered to buy us things, including the ILs who even discussed specific brands and colours of the items etc with us. We then didn't buy or budget for those things which was unfortunate as we then had to buy them ourselves as they never materialised, and after the indepth discussions over a number of days involving the ILs doing a ton of research and bringing information round, were never mentioned again. This has happened more than once in the last five years, but after the first instance I haven't expected to get the things they say they are buying us - and so far I've been right. On the flip side the GPs bought quite a lot of the baby equipment for DH's brothers children and regularly buy bits for the other GC.

Until Christmas this year DS was too young to really notice the difference, but now he is starting to pick up on it. He does spend time with the ILs, and they are good with him when he is there, but when he comes home saying "Granny and Grampsy said they will buy me X,Y,Z" and it doesn't appear he doesn't really understand why. He has also asked me why cousin A got such and such a thing from Granny and Grampsy and he didn't.

At some point he is going to notice just how differently they treat him compared to his cousins, and he is potentially going to be really hurt by it. I am not sure why they do this, other than they treat DH differently to his brothers (they still get presents from their parents for Christmas and birthdays - DH hasn't got anything in years - not even a card, and it hurts him more than he would ever admit to).

I don't want DS to go through the same hurt as DH - what on earth can I do about it though? DS has a good relationship with his GPs and wider family, he loves them and likes seeing them and we want to maintain the relationships, but now he is starting to pick up on the fact that he is treated differently. At the moment he isn't really old enough to realise that he's being treated differently in a negative way, but he will do soon enough, and I want to try to do something so that it's sorted before he is able to understand and be hurt by it.

What would you do?

Thanks if you got this far - it's a little epic, but I've been sitting on it for nearly six years.

theoriginalandbestrookie Thu 10-Jan-13 22:55:32

Well I think its perfectly fair for you to say to ILs "DS said that you had said you would buy him a thingymjig. It is completely up to you what you spend on him, we are grateful whatever you choose to do, but please can you not say that you are going to buy a thingymjig if you don't intend to as he gets upset when that happens"

It's cruel to tell children you are going to buy them something and then not do it.

You or your DH could speak to them about the discrepancy in presents, but tbh I don't think that will change their behaviour. I would not be keen to spend much time in the company of grandparents who didn't value their son or their grandchild.

Tryharder Thu 10-Jan-13 22:59:42

Why don't you ask your ILs why they don't send your DH

Tryharder Thu 10-Jan-13 23:02:09

Sorry, posted too soon. Why not ask them why they treat your DH and subsequently your DS differently? I think so many people get away with shocking behaviour particularly in families because no one ever calls them up on it.

You might not like the answer but at least you'll know where you stand.

PureQuintessence Thu 10-Jan-13 23:03:33

They are horrible people, pure and simple. Remember this when they are old and need care/favours. Then turn your back and treat them like they treat your son.

Also, I would refuse to go and spend Christmas with them. You can say that it is hurtful to your son to see mountains of parcels for the other grandchildren, and you want to protect him from being treated so differently. By not spending time, he will not notice, and it wont spoil his Christmas.

2aminthemorning Thu 10-Jan-13 23:06:57

In an ideal world, I'd do the following:

* Raise the issue with your husband in the most diplomatic way you know. He should be the person to address it with your ILs, if anyone. You could stress how much you don't want to appear critical by pointing out that your care and concern is purely for DS - it's not that you're personally miffed about it. Even so, if your DP has hurts so deep that he doesn't even share them with you (regarding the lack of birthday card, for example), talking to his parents about their behaviour to DS might be something he's just not ready to do. In which case you would probably have to ask yourself how much you want to resolve this situation. Your going over DH's head could be explosive and shaming.

* In a terribly ideal world, this would initiate a conversation between yourself and your DH where he feels loved and strong enough to raise these issues with his DD and DM in an affirming way, e.g. "You're both so important to me, and your relationship with DS is so important to me, that I have to talk this over with you to make sure I'm getting the full picture. Would be so sad to carry hurt where there is simply a misunderstanding.'

* I can't think of anything else to do. Unless you have a good relationship with either MIL or a SIL (pref also an inlaw) and (with DH's permission) just say you're afraid DS is going to start getting hurt by the disparity. Not that you're not very grateful, just trying to avoid a situation that might build jealousy etc. etc.

Sorry I can't be of more help. It's a tricky one.

2aminthemorning Thu 10-Jan-13 23:07:36

purequintessence You sound charming.

deleted203 Thu 10-Jan-13 23:08:39

Playing Devil's Advocate slightly, as it does seem very unfair on first reading, but what ages are the other GC? You say DS is the youngest. I can slightly get my head around it if the other GC are a fair bit older. Perhaps (being as charitable as I can to the GPs) they think that £10 will buy something decent for a 5 yo, whereas a 15 yo may need £50 for whatever they want.

PureQuintessence Thu 10-Jan-13 23:12:10

Whether I am charming or not is quite besides the point.

But I dont believe people like that ever change. OP will just be setting herself up for further hurt and disappointment for her family, in my opinion, by trying to address it. They are deliberately singling out one child, and treat him differently. In fact, they all club together in their treatment of this little boy.

Btw, note, I am not commenting on any posters here on the thread, or giving judgement on their characters, I am calling the |inlaws behaviour horrible, so I am not sure why assessing my charm is necessary.

QuizzicalCat Thu 10-Jan-13 23:13:53

TBH I really am not keen to spend time with them, but DS asks to see them, and he adores his cousins. As the GP are literally in the middle geographically of all of us we end up going there to see the cousins because DHs brothers tend to go there most weekends anyway. Part of me wonders whether DH is treated differently because he doesn't live his life around his parents, and if so whether DS is getting the same treatment because he isn't there all the time, whereas the other GC are there every weekend, sleep over etc.

We only see them a couple of times a month as it is but we want DS to have good relationships with his cousins so we don't want to cut it down more unless it's the only way. As DS is an only child and my sister doesn't want children we would like him to have good relationships with family members around his age its the adults that are the problem

If it was just the GPs then we would just limit contact more than we already do, but DS gets so excited to see his cousins it would be unfair to cut that back because of the adults.

Feeling very rock and hard place at the moment, it's either stop DS doing something he enjoys to stop him being hurt, which will actually hurt him. Or wait for him to get hurt.

If we reduce contact then DS will see us as the ones hurting him, but if he gets hurt by the GPs at least he has us to turn to, and will know that we are always there. Hobsons Choice though as I don't want my little boy hurt at all.


PureQuintessence Thu 10-Jan-13 23:17:49

Or you could throw in a quizzical "When Ds is older and begins to realize how differently he is treated from the other grandchildren, do you reckon he will be hurt or angry with you?"

DoctorAnge Thu 10-Jan-13 23:18:39

That is really awful actually. Really snidey, manipulative, cruel
towards your son. I would have to confront and get it out in the open.

moajab Thu 10-Jan-13 23:21:43

I would agree sowornout about the cost. I know my parents do not spend the same amount on my youngest DS as they do for the others. And nor to we for that matter. But I don't think that excuses the amount of presents. it's not hard to buy a big impressive looking pile for a 5 year old. And the uncles and aunts not buying is wierd, as presumably you buy for their DC? Perhaps time to stop that and ask if you can just add your name to your PIL's present? wink

Is there anything different about your DH? Is he adopted or not the biological son of both? Not that this would excuse it at all, but there have been some threads on MN recently with GPs not wishing to treat adoptive GC the same as their biological ones. Like i say no excuse, but at least you'd know the reason.

or is your DH the middle child? This happens in my DH's family. Although to be fair to MIL she is totally fair with presents, but visits and phones the older and yonger DC far more than the middle one, even though they all live a similar distance away. Also seems less close to the children of the middle one than the other GC.

QuizzicalCat Thu 10-Jan-13 23:29:53

PureQuintessence - this was the first only Christmas we have spent with them. We won't be doing it again, that has already been decided.

sowornout - I wish you were right! DS is 5, the others are 6, 7, 8, 8 (twins) and 10, so age doesn't seem to be a factor.

I have talked to DH about it, but he struggles as he has tried to just accept that he is treated differently as "the way it is" just to avoid feeling hurt by it (doesn't work) and generally tries to keep the peace. But only to a point. If DS does get hurt I know he will go see his parents and go ballistic and the fallout will be massive - but I'd rather avoid that if possible, as he then feels guilty even though he knows he shouldn't and it will cause him pain too. I would describe my ILs as lovely in some ways, but totally toxic in others.

I think I'm going to have to face up to the fact that either DH or I are going to end up raising this one and that it's not going to be pleasant. I'm not worried about offending them, couldn't personally give two hoots what they think of me but knowing that DH will get the fallout is currently holding me back. The fact that I've posted at all is telling me that I am reaching the end of my tether and that we are going to have to get our hard hats out.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 10-Jan-13 23:30:52

I think the link is DH. It's clear that he's regarded as 'other' to his siblings and that's being extended to your DS. He's moved away from them and that may be all it takes. Is there anything else that sets him apart? Do you seem to have a fancier lifestyle, for example?

deleted203 Thu 10-Jan-13 23:38:12

OK...well I just lost sympathy with the GPs and In laws given the age of the GC. And I totally agree with moajab with the fact that you can buy a lot of presents for very little. My eldest DCs occasionally moan about the wee one in that 'oh he's so spoilt!' but actually, he's quite happy with a plastic sword from Poundland whereas they get more money (they are all in their teens).

I think theoriginal had it right with speaking to them about 'DS has said you will buy X. And I think I would have a private word with the GPs and say that it isn't that you are money-orientated but that DS is beginning to notice that the other grandchildren appear to get given a lot more things and you are worried he is going to feel hurt and left out as he gets older. Ask them if they are meaning to do this and tell them you don't want to fall out about it, but you felt you had to bring it up before it becomes a major issue.

QuizzicalCat Thu 10-Jan-13 23:48:36

moajab yes we buy for the DN - birthdays and Christmas without fail. It does irritate me when we spend time and money finding something they will like and DS doesn't get a present from his Uncles/wives (that happened on his birthday last year - he got a card from one, and nothing at all from the other even though his cousins were at his party and went home with party bags grr ). We can't not buy for them though - they are children, not their fault their parents are mean. Just to be clear - they do buy for each other's children.

DH isn't adopted and is the biological son of both of his parents. He is the oldest - two years older than one brother, four years older than the other. He once said to me that we were never having three children - because one always gets left out...

From what I can gather he went without a lot as a child so the "younger ones" could have things. It's fine and right for parents to go without so their children can have - but IMO totally wrong for a child to go without so that the "younger ones" can have stuff - especially with a two year age gap, as he was just a child and "young" too. Absolutely heartbreaking - and more so to think the pattern is now being repeated with DS, except he is the younger one but the child of the eldest - iykwim?

The more I think about this the more it is hitting how truly toxic this is. I've known about the past for a long time, but we don't really discuss it a lot. It's only now that it's starting to be an issue that it's all coming together in my head. Poor DS, and poor DH.

It's going to have to be dealt with - and if the end result is a bad one, then so be it. We are not going to be putting DS through the same as DH even if it means not seeing as much of his cousins. That won't be as damaging as this will be if it's not sorted.

Fridgedooropen Thu 10-Jan-13 23:56:11

Definitely call them on it. Tryharder is right. They don't think you will.

SamSmalaidh Fri 11-Jan-13 00:05:41

I think you have to tackle them on it - or at least say they need to stop promising him things they aren't going to give him as he's starting to notice.

TheUnsinkableTitanic Fri 11-Jan-13 06:12:43

sorry, read this last night and had to come back to it this morning quizzical

i can't get my head around your DH's siblings

i don't think you have to buy for their children if they don't buy for yours - they only have 1 child to buy for.

bring it up now - well before christmas/birthdays in a very friendly way ie this year we weren't going to buy for the children ??

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 11-Jan-13 07:02:11

Your DH and by turn his son are the scapegoats for the ILs inherent ills. They did this with their own children; the eldest i.e your DH missed out at the expense of the younger two. Your DH unsurprisingly decided to make a life of his own away from the bosom of his parents "loving" home; his parents really do not like this and thus show their displeasure like this as well. Your DS is already beginning to feel the same type of hurts his Dad did as a child (and still does as an adult now he is seeing his own son being the scapegoat). Your son may well like his cousins but they may also start telling or showing him that they received more stuff than he did.

FOG - fear, obligation and guilt are three legacies that such toxic people leave to their adult children.

By the way it is neither your DHs or your fault they are like this; you did not make them this way. Their own families unleashed that damage onto them.

Not at all surprised to note that you regard the ILs as toxic; they truly are.I would read "Toxic Inlaws" written by Susan Forward, your DH should read "Toxic Parents" written by the same author.

You sound really nice and also someone who has fortunately come from a family where this sort of toxic dysfunction does not go on. Very hard for you to deal with it. Such favouritism however, should not be tolerated. "Normal" rules of dealing with family members are not applicable here due to the ILs dysfunctional way of doing things. Both of you need to present a united front to his parents; you need to work together on this. If contact with all these people needs to be reduced then so be it. You cannot afford to keep exposing yourselves to such awful people.

TheDemonShedMaster Fri 11-Jan-13 10:06:24

You can absolutely not buy for your nieces and nephews - yes, they are children and it's not their fault, but this thinking has clearly passed by your ILs...

ArseyKwa Fri 11-Jan-13 10:31:48

I'm a bit astonished at your dh's sil's. I have this right, they are 3 brothers? In our family, and as far as I can make out in most families, it ends up that the wives do the present buying/organising/sending. So this means your dh's sil's, who were not part of the family when dh was young, are not buying Christmas/birthday presents for your child. That's just weird! That surely doesn't happen by accident, it needs to have been a decision...

Rock/hard place indeed. How is your relationship with the sil's? Could you ask them about pil's attitude? Without having a go about their own lack of presents? Something like "do you know if pils are annoyed with us?".

theoriginalandbestrookie Fri 11-Jan-13 10:36:56

Agree with demonshed, how dare they not buy presents for your DS when they buy for theirs. You could bring it up all friendly "We've noticed that you don't buy DS presents, so we thought we would make it a family policy not to buy presents for any neices or nephews"

You can talk to the GPs until you are blue in the face, its not really going to make much difference. I'd also be wary of getting your DH to confront them. They are obviously toxic and have labelled him as the black sheep. You are not so emotionally attached so its a lot easier for you to talk about it and if they want to start demonising you well so be it.

I'd stop leaving your DS along with the GPs so they don't have an opportunity to make promises that they don't deliver on. If they do say something in front of you I would take them aside and say
" Oh remember when you promised DS a CC and didn't buy it. I think its very mean if you say that you are going to buy something and don't buy it it makes DS feel very upset. I hope you are intending to get him the CC that you promised this time"

If they then don't deliver I would absolutely cut down on the amount of time you spend with them. You say DS loves his cousins, I'm sure he does but you could make your own nuclear family by using the time you have saved from not visiting these people to spend more time with people you like with children close in age to DS, I'm sure he will be just as happy over time to hang out with them.

mouses Fri 11-Jan-13 10:59:20

havent read all the replies but your not alone in this situation.

I have 3 DC's, 2 from ex Dp. DD with current Dp and he also has a Ds.
any way, my mum will buy the same present or of same value for all 4 of them. but the Dp's mum, sisters, nan put money in a card for our DD and DPs DS but nothing for my DS's and it really hurts me.

of course they ask why they dont have money as kids do have emotions!

this christmas gone my DD and SS got £10 in a card (each) plus plenty of presents while my boys got a fiver. nothing from DP nan and what looked like a pound shop colouring book from the SIL!

im not ungrateful, the thought would be nice - if they actually thought about their feelings. not impressed!

same for birthdays no cards for my 3 (even our DD) but Dp's ds and sil 3 girls get cards. my family always sends birthday cards for dp's birthday.
its not helped by the smug attitude of SS knowing he's treated better and rubbing it in!!!!

Ive told my dp im not happy with the situation but his reply is ''i cant tell them what to do!''

for sure if my mum or sis was to do this with kids id be having a word in their ear! letting them know its causing trouble and upset.

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