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Those of you whose parents treat you differently to your sibling(s): Do they treat your children differently too?

(13 Posts)
AnneDoverfist Mon 18-Aug-08 17:13:38

I'm coming at this as the sibling who is treated less favourably than the others but would also be interested in what it's like for those of you on the opposite side of the fence.

I am one of 6 children and it's no secret that I am mum's least liked child. I won't bore you with a long list of examples but it includes things like being left out of family stuff and generally being made to feel very unwelcome. Even at our dad's funeral they left the church together to travel to the wake and left me to make my own way there. I couldn't drive so my dad's sister and her family took me under their wing for the rest of the day.

The funeral incident was something of a turning point for me. I realised that if they couldn't be there for me on that day of all days then they probably wouldn't be there for me at any other time either. I came to terms with this and now accept that this is the way things are. I get on with my life and let them get on with theirs. I've been careful not to say anything bad about my family in front of my own children and have encouraged the friendship between my children and their cousin (my sister's child) who is a similar age to them. They only see each other a couple of times a year but get on well whenever they meet up.

After their cousin's latest visit though my children have started to ask some awkward questions. Their cousin has innocently mentioned some of the things she does with her grandma (my mum), things like visiting grandma's house, staying overnight, going on trips to the park or into town. Now mine are asking why they don't get to do any of those things. I lied and said that grandma was busy but my 8yr old asked how come grandma still had time for their cousin. I'm afraid I took the coward's way out and changed the subject and now I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that they will soon forget all about it.

I'm fairly certain though that the issue is going to come up again at some point. What do I tell them? I like the fact that they do at least have some contact with their relatives so am loathe to stop it all together.

Am I risking damage to their self-esteem or do you think it's possible that like me they will eventually just see it as being one of those things and get used to it?

(I've changed names for this thread so have been deliberately vague with some of the details)

lilacclaire Mon 18-Aug-08 17:21:46

I don't know if it will damage self esteem, but in answer to the title, yes, my ds does get treated differently to my brothers children.

Obviously I was treated less favourably as a child than my brother.

Sad, but it won't directly effect to the same degree as it did me, as my mother is not his mother.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 18-Aug-08 17:44:04


When do you think this all started?.
I think this is a very long standing issue and that you have always felt "left out" by your Mother (for her own reasons, these btw you did not cause her to have). I think you've been made her scapegoat and act as such in this family (its the role you've been given by them).

Are you a family unit where your siblings go along with whatever your Mum says/does but you at times challenge them or wonder why they go along with her?. Do you feel you've acted like this family's "scapegoat" even when your late father was alive. Do you think your Dad had any inkling that you were treated less favourably?.

How do you get along with your siblings and where are you along this family line (eldest, middle child, youngest?). Have any of them directly talked to you about their Mother's treatment of you?. My guess is they have not out of fear of "upsetting" your Mother This is perhaps also why no-one wanted to ask her why you had to make your own way to your late Dad's wake.

You may want to read the "well we took you to Stately homes" part 4 thread.

Is your Mother also a very controlling person by nature?. I would also think you find it extremely difficult to talk to your Mother because she always wants the last word and makes everything out to be everyone else's fault except hers.

I think your 8 year old is very perceptive, he will likely forget this time but the issues will still be there.

You've been rejected many times by your Mum and now they are too and that can over time hurt them. My counsel for what it is worth as a less favoured sibling too (I was the "good" one and thus trusted i.e left to get on with it) is to say that living well is the best revenge. Give your children a good life with lots of good role models. Blood is not always thicker than water.

AnnVan Tue 19-Aug-08 03:49:25

ADF - I'm soon going to be finding this out myself. I'm a middle child, and the least favoured of us. PG with first child now. I'm already seeing a difference. When my sister had her DD, my parents stayed at a campsite so that sister and BIL wouldn't have to deal with having houseguests while adjusting to having a baby. Of course, for me, they are coming to stay over. SO on top of having a new baby, Ill be having to worry about cooking gluten-free food for mum and diabetic food for dad right after the birth of first child angry
I don't think it will affect their treatment of my child though, because it will be another grandchild to spoil in my mum's eyes. I'm just glad I don't live close to my parents.

Emma789 Tue 19-Aug-08 08:38:40

short answer is yes and yes.
I lie to my dc about how much their nan cares for them (e.g. I buy birthday cards and presents on her behalf when I think she won't bother).

I had a similar problem around the time of my dad's death - I was told to stay away one weekend when Dad had only a few weeks left. I worked away from home but was coming back every weekend. My mother wanted some of her cousins to visit - their first visit ever - and so she told me the guest room was not available and the sofa was not an option.

AnneDoverfist, did you also find that your mother tried to re-write your relationship with your father after his death (to make it less than it was)?

Upwind Tue 19-Aug-08 08:54:38

Don't worry about damage to their self esteem - it sounds like you won't make the mistakes your mother made and that her influence on their life is minimal. They will just get used to the idea that Granny sees more of their cousin than them. In your shoes, I might be more honest about Granny being a strange old lady.

dollius Tue 19-Aug-08 09:06:12

I have experience of both. My DH is the favoured child and, yes, our DS1 is golden boy in MIL's eyes over and above his cousins, even though they are older. It is hideously embarrassing and my DH is always intervening to stop his mum showing it - eg having her camera glued to our DSs and not their cousins - DH will say 'For god's sake mum, take some pictures of the other kids will you'. That's why I can't understand why your sister just stands by and lets it happen. The funeral incident sounds vile and you must be very forgiving to get past it the way you have.

I am my parents least favourite child for a variety of reasons - mostly my mother has an irrational resentment about my closeness to my father when I was little and my dad goes along with this. But my parents adore my boys and are very loving towards them. Even though my other siblings are yet to have children, I do not think for a moment that their children will be favoured over mine when they do.

So my point is that even if your mother feels justified in dis-favouring you (ridiculous of course), she shouldn't extend it to your children. Ultimately if she does, then your mother doesn't deserve you or them.

sarah293 Tue 19-Aug-08 09:10:14

Message withdrawn

AnneDoverfist Tue 19-Aug-08 12:40:12

Thank you all so much for your replies. I'll try to answer the questions but apologise in advance if I miss anyone out.

When did it start? I used to think that the big shift happened when I got married and was able to get away from their influence. They no longer had the same control over me IYSWIM. Now that I've managed to distance myself from it a little more though I can see that there was a similar pattern throughout childhood. Mum would always swear blind that she treated us all the same but even then there was a definite pecking order. I think she tried to hide it better back then but now just doesn't care.

I'm second youngest of her children but my dad's youngest child. They divorced not long after and I suspect that she resented my coming along when I did. I was also very bright as a child and it was made clear that I wasn't to get any big ideas about myself. So the other siblings who passed their exams were given money as a reward. I didn't even get a congratulations even though my results were the highest of all of my classmates.

After the divorce I had very little contact with my dad. Later my mum also separated from my youngest sibling's father too. He tried to stay in contact with all of us but my mum actively discouraged this for some reason and so only the youngest was allowed to visit him. I think that this fits in with Emma789's question about re-writing relationships. I only ever heard the bad things about my dad. If I did anything wrong the phrase trotted out for the occasion was "You're as bad as your father - and I divorced him!"

Typing this I can see just how controlling she really could be. Attila's description is very accurate. If anyone were to question these things my mum would deny that they ever happened.

My siblings go along with whatever she does although I know they feel guilty about it and will even sometimes try to spare my feelings by pretending that they all coincidentally decided to turn up at mum's house at the same time and all decided to stay over for a few days rather than admit that they were invited and I wasn't. They don't feel guilty enough to stand up to her though. I used to pretend to believe it but these days I must admit that I almost enjoy seeing them get so flustered about it and ask them awkward questions with a very innocent expression on my face. I don't think it's a coincidence that the sibling I relate best to is the second least favourite of the family.

Riven, that's horrendous. These people should feel ashamed of themselves and their behaviour but I'll bet they don't.

I will have a look at the Stately Homes thread. Thankyou so much for the link.

drivinmecrazy Tue 19-Aug-08 12:52:39

I am definately least popular out of my brother and I. until recently it really didn't matter because I was my dads 'favourite', so were my 2 DDs. Now my dad has died, i feel really cast adrift in my family. I was pushed out of all the decisions regarding his funeral, any suggestions i made were completely disregarded. It even got to the point that my brother (who had very little time for him while he was battling cancer) has been given all of my dads personal effects because he is a son and I am not.
My Mums relationship with my Dad was so bad at then end, but now she is loving playing the grieving widow, soaking up all the sympathy and getting all the comments about how well she looked after him. She was in Spain for the last 6 months of his life, only returning for the last (terrible) 6 weeks. i was there for him every day. It's so hard not to feel bitter, but i am trying to rise above it and let them get on with it. One day i am sure I will say something, but feel that now would not be the right time. I would definately say something we would all regret.

sweetkitty Tue 19-Aug-08 13:06:34

My mother has this crazy thing that boys are better than girls who are second class (honestly) anyway my brother has always been the apple of her eye. Now I have 3 DDs she hardly sees and my brother so far has no DC my mother is straining at the bit for him to have children and I know for a fact if he has a boy especially he will be utterly doted on and my DDs left out, I have accepted this sad as it is.

As far as my DDs go I hardly mention my mother we don't go to see her and she comes here about twice a year so they don't have any kind of relationship with her, as they get older and say "why don't we stay with gran etc" I will be open and honest with them. Her loss not ours.

Elf Tue 19-Aug-08 14:14:45

Annedoverfist - I think there are some sad stories here but it seems not many people have answered your question about what to say to your children about why they don't see their grandmother.

I think 8 is quite a good age for him to understand just enough while the whole truth slowly dawns. I feel he is owed some explanation - I'm not in favour of leaving kids in the dark to make up their own answers.

We have had a similar situation so I know how hard it is. My advice would be to tell him straight that his Granny sometimes doesn't behave very nicely or fairly and that is sad and a shame but it means she doesn't see you or him very often. I guess the main thing is to tell him enough so that he doesn't blame himself. But I would strongly advise you to say something, not to just hope it will go away.

happyhoney Tue 19-Aug-08 15:21:58

I am also the 'least' favourite sbling - middle child of 3. My parents openly favoured my siblings - with material things and by siding with them over everything/anything. I was 'back in favour' when I had my first child but when I had my second child my mother became distant and verbally abusive towards me. I think that I gradually became less and less dependant on her and she lost her grip over me. I don't speak to any of my family anymore partly because of this but there are also other issues. TBH I am happier now than I've ever been and I feel that the only effect they were having on our lives was negative.sad

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