February 25, 2008,
A.S. asks from Chesapeake Beach, MD on February 20, 2008
Grandparents Treating Each Child Equally
I am not sure how to begin this. I have a beautiful almost 3yr old. Mike has an older daughter from a previous relationship who will be 10 this year. I am finding that Mike's parents are favoring the older child who doesn't not live with us. Sometimes it is like our 3yr old doesn't even exist or as if i brought him into this relationship from another relationship (like he is not mikes) they are always buying things for his daughter or spending much more quality time with her. Every summer they get her for 5-7 weeks (they live in Florida)-however right now they are up here visiting and I am finding they are spending more time with the granddaughter than their grandson. Brandon and I are home all week- with the exception for Wed and Thursday when he goes to daycare so I can get my work done (I work from home) They have not chosen at all to come over except one day when they spent an hour with Brandon. I find this very hurtful and very agrivating. They are always talking about how they spoiling the granddaughter. When she is in Florida with them she doesn't take a suitcase they buy her all new clothes to wear when they are down there (which is not necessary she has a ton of clothes which a lot have not even been worn some still have the tags on them) And when they come here have nothing for Brandon. For example they sent a package here for the granddaughter that contained items adding up to approx $20 with a note just to let you know you are special. NOTHING CAME FOR BRANDON - Brandon knows when packages come the are usually always from one set of grandparents or another. When Mike mentioned this to them - they said they didn't know what to get him! Then the sent him a .97 cent monster truck - for him is was great but was really hurtful to us it didn't make sense. It really bothers me because my parents who are not the daughters natural grandparents treat her as though she is (except birthdays) if My parents send something for one they send something for the other and are of equal value.Sometimes I want to tell my mom not to send anything for the daughter - but I don't want to be like that and I want her to feel part of my family -- how can I resolve this - so no one is getting hurt feelings. thanks for listening I am sure I rambled - but I don't have anyone else to really talk to about this. thanks again
So What Happened?™
Wow thank you to everyone who responded! I was totally surprised to see how many people have seen or been through this same thing. I will take all advice and try to get this resolved to best benefit Brandon. I have opened the door to the grandparents in letting them know they are always welcome and that we are always here and would love to have them come visit. Sadly they have not taken us up on this. I don't think us not being married is an issue because Mike was not married in the previous relationship. We are engaged and they seem to be happy about it. They have been actively involved in the daughter life since birth - she has been going to florida since as least 4yrs old- but I will not keep venting - I truly appreciate everyone who took time to read my story and to respond!! I am really liking this resource. Even though we don't meet face to face I feel like I have people I can talk to and being here in Maryland I don't have many of those. thank you to all!! I will try to let everyone know what happens. thank you
A.B. answers from Washington DC on February 21, 2008
If your future inlaws are not even acknowledging there's any favoritism, what do you think you will able to say or do to point it out to them? All you can do is make suggestions if they ask what he'd like. You can invite them to spend more time with him--and you--while they are visiting. Sounds like, even though Mike wasn't married to his daughter's mom, his parents established some type of bond that allowed them to have a lot of time raising this granddaughter. But, there are so many other reasons for their being aloof that you can make yourself crazy trying to guess them all. Frankly, your future inlaws just might not have the stamina for dealing with a strongwilled grandson who is still learning boundaries and behavior. Who knows? There are some people who just don't have the patience or energy to deal with children at all stages of life. Some are your greatest help when they are infants and toddlers; some can handle them throughout; some are useless until they are well out of diapers and ready ofr high school. You cannot compare a 10-year-old granddaughter to a 3-year-old grandson. They are different in their needs and their personalities. A 10-year-old is much more independent than a 3-year-old and you don't know when that 5-7 week visitation started or how. You can't get too distracted by the surface things like toys and such. Your future inlaws might be helping in other ways (like including him in a savings plan or estate plans) or they might be your greatest support in the future, like when your son is 10. Meanwhile, your parents are great and they are here for your grandson's emotional need right now. And, the fact that they include your stepdaughter shows they are just loving and giving people. Love them, in return, and appreciate the bonds they are building within your family. Keep the door open and inviting to your future inlaws and try not to take everything personally--even if it is an issue of favoritism. Be yourself. Let them get to know you and their grandson. Discuss things with Mike and let him address them. But, don't try to force it. It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to get some premarital counseling and decide now how you are going to manage the extended family issues.
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J.S. answers from Washington DC on February 21, 2008
I know it is hard to watch unequal treatment, especially when your child is the one on the small end of the stick. You didn't mention if you have invited the GP over or they just haven't come. I agree with the previous post about letting the father of your child negotiate with the GPs about how much to share with each child. Also, remember the attention span of a 3 year old is much smaller than a 7 year old, so the shorter interactions may be more appropriate for now.
I would suggest: While the grandparent's are in town invite them along to some specific activities. If you think they aren't sure how to play/talk with a 3 year old, set up a specific activity for them to do with your son on a specific day. You could invite them to join you for something fun you have "planned" for Saturday afternoon... Then, for your son's sake do whatever you picked, regardless of their participation.
~Cookie/cupcake decorating, pre-bake cupcakes (or ask a local bakery if you can buy some un-iced cupcakes) and have icing and toppings ready to go. Along with aprons or play clothes to get sticky and then let the GP enjoy his creativity and energy.
~Chucky cheese or McDonald's play area where they can watch and intermittently interact with a energetic child as he comes down slides, ect.
~Grandparent read his favorite book to him for a story time. Make it special by eating or wearing something related, during or after the book. (Scramble eggs with green food coloring added, for green eggs and ham.)
~Make "dirt cake" Your 3 year old can mash Oreos in a Ziploc bag and grandparents can help assemble the layers of oreos alternating with pudding/yogurt/etc. There are actual recipes online. Include gummy worms in the layers... eat it together. Lots of silly fun.
<<<< Regardless of activity: Be sure to take photo/video of the event, especially since interactions are limited. Then in a month send the photo/video to them in Florida to remind them of the great time they had and how cute your boy is, strong willed or not. :) >>>>>
Personal note: My grandma got so into being even with her 8 grandkids, that there was no compensation for inflation (with a 20 year span in ages) and change was given if you didn't spend all your money when grandma took you shopping. Problems arose with gratitude when all my grandma got a particular group of my cousins was socks/underwear/uniform shirts. The kids weren't excited, so she wasn't excited to buy, so she only bought what their mom suggested, more boring uniforms. Just be careful not to let evenness go to the extreme. I try to by my nieces/nephews a similar number of packages even if the value varies because of their age, that is all they are aware of for now.
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C.S. answers from Colorado Springs on February 21, 2008
Is your husband an only child? It sounds like it. Is his daughter their only grandchild until you had your son? Sounds like she was. My husbands Dad and my husbands step mom are both only children and because of that they both grew up very selfish and to where everything was just for them and that is what they are used to. My husband is one of 3 and among the 3 there are 4 grandchildren. His stepMom has one child and her one child has one son who is 14. The other 4 grandchildren are all 8 and under. Anyway because they were only children and my husbands step sister is an only child and so is her son they don't know how to act or give if there is more than one child. My husbands step sister gets all the attention from her Mom and my husbands Dad and her Son also gets all the attention and gifts. The other 4 grandchildren that are on my husbands side are all put off and given nothing. At Christmas they give the other grandson tons of stuff, clothes and so on where my son who is 8 gets a DVD or maybe a $20 gift card and that is it. The other 3 grandchildren get nothing. It's the same way at Birthdays. It's really sad. We stopped going to their house for Christmas because of this because the one who gets hurt are the children especially my 8 year old. They just don't know what to do or how to do anything for more than one child at a time because of all their up bringings. My son knows this and so we have had many talks with him and have explained a few things so he knows and so he also knows not to expect anything but to be thankful when he does. It's really hard to be around them and seeing the other grandson getting everything and all the attention so we limit what we do with them and limit our visits with them and we really supervise most everything with them. There was even a Christmas a few years ago that we were with them that year visiting for Christmas. Well they had gone way out on the other grandson and on Christmas Eve after we went to bed they brought out all of the other grandsons presents and let him open most of them so that way we or my son won't see how many he has. After he opened them they had him put them away. Then on Christmas morning they left a few more for him to open so it looked like to us and my son that they got equal. My son got some cheap stuff, a DVD and some hot wheel cars that are 97 cents each and that was it. We were hurt and furious and have never gone to their house for Christmas again and never will. My son was too young to understand then, but he's not now and we will never do that to our son or put him in that situation again. My parents have 4 grandchildren, too and each one of the kids gets equally at Birthdays, Christmas and all during the year. What my Mom does for my son she also does for my sister's kids, too. My husbands Dad, Step Mom and Step Sister aren't cacable because of the way they were brought up. They don't know how to do this like my parents do. It's really sad, but we're raising our son to understand this so he doesn't get hurt or expect anything from them. Your son is too young to understand all this now, but I would start talking to him about things pertaining to this situation and as he ages he will understand and when he gets to my sons age he'll then be ok with it all. Not sure if this is your situation or not, but your story is exactly as mine is, too. Hope this helps a little. Good luck.
C.- married 11 years and one 8 year old son
S.C. answers from Washington DC on February 21, 2008
I feel at times I'm in the same situation. My husband has a child from a previous marriage and my husband has a brother who has twin girls who I feel my mother in-law does way more for them then my 2 kids with my husband. She will get the twins every 2 weeks and buy them way more then mine. I think your fiance's parents may feel that Brandon has both parents at home and you all may be more financially stabled then his ex-wife and they probably feel she needs way more attention then Brandon. I decided to stop taking it personal and to move on feel the in-laws are doing this because they feel she needs them more then your son. Luckily he is still young and really doesn't understand but hopefully it will get better. Take care!
S.C. answers from Washington DC on February 25, 2008
First and foremost, pray. Only Heavenly FATHER can change people's hearts. I faced something simialr when I married my ex-husband, who's mom really didn't like me, and I had a child from a previous relationship. When we had her first grandchild, I explained to my husband first that while this was his mom's first grandchild, she couldn't treat them differently and then I explained it to her. I was very afraid but she listened and she never sent a present for her grandchild without sending one to my first child. Even on my daughter's birthday, she remembered. But again, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY and continue being strong for your son. If they don't know what Brandon likes, then send them a list. Ask them if you've offended them in any form or manner. I know it's painful but not hopeless.
K.C. answers from Washington DC on February 21, 2008
I am really sorry to hear about your in-laws, their behavior is deplorable.
But please try to understand, they are no doubt over-compensating for the fact that their granddaughter is from a broken home and doesn't live with her father.
This is very dangerous to the granddaughter, it is always bad for a child to be spoiled, and I'll bet her mother is not thrilled with the grandparent's either, they are setting up problems with unrealistic expectations later.
It could also be hurtful to your son as he gets old enough to understand, but only if he percieves it that way, so I would be careful to not mention it in his hearing, if you are hurt (and of course you are) he will be hurt too.
It is up to your husband to speak to his parents and explain he doesn't want his daughter or son involved in their need to "compensate" and that they need to show more equal treatment of both his children.
Whatever else you do, I would strongly recommend you ignore this behavior, it can only cause friction in your family if you focus on it.
C.K. answers from Washington DC on February 21, 2008
i understand that this is a difficult situation for you. but here's a possible perspective....maybe the grandparents were not that interested in the granddaughter when she was younger.
here's my current grandparent situation. my inlaws are getting better with our son. he will be 3 in march. they see him in person once a year (their choice as we invite them and they say no). when we have seen them over the last 3 years for other family events. they are great with my husband's cousins who have kids. they interact more with the older children. it infuriated me since our son is their only grandchild. but growing up, i had grandparents similar to my inlaws (my dad's folks). my grandparents preferred my older sister and younger brother as they favored my dad's side of the family though they were always treated us equally. i had a much better relationship with my mom's mom.
my mom and my husband have been great in this respect as they have been my sounding board. my husband grew up with his folks so nothing that they do is too surprising for him.
we just returned from visiting them. and the first day, his mom took a couple of naps. during breakfast (the first day), they were reading the paper as my son tried to talk to them. finally on day 3 and 4 they were playing with him, talking to him, reading him books, and then we left the following day.
A.V. answers from Washington DC on February 21, 2008
I think that your husband needs to talk to his parents about the disparity. Not everything will be equal, but if the unequality is in the kids' faces, it's not good for either of them. The less favored one feels bad and the more favored one can either get an attitude or feel badly for his/her sibling.
Also, is your stepdaughter the oldest of all the grandkids? Is she favored above others? Do they feel like they have to do these things to maintain a relationship via the mother (since she doesn't live with you)? Or feel like they need to support the child who lives with the mother more than the one that lives with the father? Or maybe trying to make up for not having parents together?
I was the less-favored child on one side of the family and I know that it's no fun being in your son's place. Has your husband tried telling them what his son is into right now and making suggestions for what to buy? Or are they just refusing to deal with the kid at all?
D.T. answers from Washington DC on February 20, 2008
A., A.. Wow!
To me, it sounds like there is a deeper issue that these people have. Them saying they don't know what to get is BS: clothes, toys (they come "age-coded). It's not that difficult. What is their relationship like with the girl's mother? I would say your husband needs to approach them again and tell them FIRMLY that he does not appreciate favoritism to one child or another. If they are not going to buy for one, the other gets nothing as well. If the stuff gets shipped to your house, return it with a note that says, "Sorry, we can't accept this. Brandon is just as special."
I really don't know what else to say, but it needs to stop. I wish you the best of luck with that!
J.B. answers from Washington DC on February 21, 2008
Hi A. -
What you have described is indeed frustrating. I just wanted to chime in in response to what someone posted about the grandparents behavior being in some way or another the result of someone being an only child. I personally am an only child, as was my mother, and her mother. My best friend is also an only child. All of us certainly know how to be considerate and fair when it comes to gift-giving for neices, nephews, grandchildren, etc. My husband comes from a huge family and is one of 5 siblings, many of whom have children, and we are very mindful of giving equally to each child at Christmas, birthdays, etc. The idea that someone "doesn't know how to act or give if there is more than one child" simply because they themselves are an only child is completely ridiculous. There are millions of kind, generous, thoughtful people out there without siblings, just like there are millions of inconsiderate, thoughtless, and ignorant people out there WITH siblings.
Whatever is going on with your in-laws and their treatment of Brandon seems to have something more to do with them than with either you or your son - maybe it is over-compensating for the granddaughter, as some folks on the site have suggested. Even if they do favor the granddaughter over your son, it is completely unacceptable for them to be so blatantly obvious and inconsiderate about it. Your husband needs to address this with them immediately. Not only is their thoughtlessness hurting you and your son, it's also potentially harming the granddaughter and definitely not teaching her to be thoughtful or giving. By letting them get away with their behavior, your husband is essentially condoning it - and if they think he is okay with it, they are most certainly going to continue in this manner.
Best of luck to you - this is definitely a tough situation!
S.O. answers from Washington DC on February 21, 2008
I understand completely how you feel -- I went thru this with my in-laws treating my neice and nephew differently than my own two kids. These grandparents wouldn't even call my boys on their birthdays because they were "just kids," but they showered the other two with gifts, parties, etc. All I can say is, OF COURSE it is going to bother you, but you have to see that it is THEIR loss. You just have to suck it up and try and arrange for the kids to have the best relationship possible with this set of grandparents. My boys never mentioned the preferential treatment, so it may be that they never noticed it and of course I never said anything in their presence about it. You have already taken the only approach possible by having your husband talk to his parents about this issue, and if they do nothing then that is all that you can expect from them. You are also right not to take it out on the little girl, she certainly is not responsible for the bad behavior of these adults. Good luck and take up a stress relieving hobby like running or kick boxing, that will help!
C.H. answers from Washington DC on February 21, 2008
Please don't put the 10 year old in the middle. She didn't ask for the divorce, for you or for the baby. She has gone through a good bit and it's great to see the grandparents being so kind to her. Some people just gravitate to older children. My mother buys my older two children lots of things. She has bought one or two items for the younger one. She loves them all the same, but I think she feels as though he has so much because of all of the hand-me-downs from the other two. I think your situation is different and I would be hurt, too. It's not the dollar amount that matters, it's the thought. The grandparents don't seem to know your son. Maybe when you talk to them you can mention the types of things he likes - general ideas like he's really into dinosaurs right now and you've been watching the Land Before Time so much that you can quote the movie. 3 year olds can be tough, so maybe as he gets older he'll be able to communicate with them better and they can have a better relationship. (On the sneaky side, I've also found that the more you compare your children to their side of the family, the more they latch on!)
K.C. answers from Norfolk on February 21, 2008
I would suggest that you tell the grandparents that the thought is nice but please don't send anything if it is not equal. Please STOP this now...it's better to hurt the grandparents feelings than to have your child hurt forever. I have two children (24 & 21) and a wonderful 11 mon. old grandson. This same type of thing has happened with my mother-in-law and my kids. One of my husband's sisters had twins 18 years ago. Since then we have heard nothing except the twins this and the twins that. My children know exactly where they stand and it is not of level ground with the girls. This has caused so much resentment with my daughter that she will not even let the great-grandmother of her son do so much as hold him. He is 11 months and she has maybe held him 5 times and we are together at least every other week. My daughter feels like she is protecting her son. I can't blame her because she has been hurt so many times. I beg you to hurt the grandparents now rather than have to deal with your son for the rest of his life. I am now going to have to explain to my mother-in-law about how much she has hurt my daughter and that is why my daughter is so protective.
D.T. answers from Norfolk on February 21, 2008
You need to have you boy friend talk to his parent and tell them they have two grandkids and if they can buy for both of them they can't but for eighter. You are right don't ask your mom to do that no one need to hurt a chil like they are for someday they will realize what happen and would be hurt i give your parent praise for treating them both the same. God bless you and i hope thing change soon
C.C. answers from Washington DC on February 22, 2008
I hear your pain and frustration. Living in a steprelationship is not easy and requires patience. I am a mother and stepmother as well as a stepgrandmother (it can get complicated with years ;) )and have experinced some of these issues that you are talking about.
May I suggest that you and your husband sit together and discuss how you feel and what you would like to see different. I would go as far as to write it down so that both of you have a clear focus on what it is you would like to see.
I would then suggest that you have Mike talk with his parents. In steprelationships, it is always best to have biological parent/siblings have the "difficult" conversations. Although this is a grandparent issue, their are very good resources to help parents deal with step issues. Mike's parents may have no clue as to how to deal with this situation mind you that it is Mike's child also.
Jeannette Lofas wrote a book called "Living in Step" that I would recommend reading. You can also get more advice from www.stepfamily.org as well as her other books.
I hope this will be helpful and good luck.
L.M. answers from Washington DC on February 21, 2008
Seems like a sticky situation, but I would make sure your husband talks to his parents about this, not you. Make sure he reiterates that this is his child too and he feels that he is being slighted.
Hope you future inlaws see the light on this one. Good luck!
J.G. answers from Washington DC on February 22, 2008
I am sorry that you are feeling badly, but I want to speak from the standpoint of the granddaughter. I am the apple of my grandparent's eye, and much more like a child to them than a grandchild. This stems from many factors, not the least of which is that my mother (their daughter) raised me as a single parent. All of their other grandchildren had the benefit of two parents (and sets of grandparents), that I didn't-----so they compensated for what they felt I may be missing. I think that it's entirely possible that your fiancee's parents may be thinking along the same lines. They have a grandchild whose mother is no longer with their son. I'm sure that they don't want to lose touch with her, which is a much more immediate threat in their eyes. You and your son are in the "permanent picture" and therefore your leaving is NOT in the back of their minds. It's a compliment to you in a way. Unfortunately, what are probably good intentions on their part (toward the granddaughter) are ending up hurting your feelings and maybe making you feel a little insecure. I highly recommend that you NOT speak to them about this issue yourself. These are Mike's parents and he should talk to them about how HE is feeling (and add that you agree----you don't want them thinking he is fighting your battles). Also, make a large effort not to focus on "gifts" and their monetary value. Then it seems like you are being a bit shallow and wanting things (which will make you look bad and most likely anger them in the process), when the real issue is about the children feeling equally loved (which can come from time spent, notes, calls----not necessarily gifts). Do your best to avoid letting these feelings take over because your son WILL pick up on them, even if you think you are hiding them well. Inadvertantly, you may contribute to your son feeling badly and/or having bad feelings about his grandparents. When he gets older (and IF he mentions to you that he feels slighted by the grandparents), that's the time when you should try to explain to him that maybe they work a little harder at keeping the granddaughter's love because they are afraid she'll forget them or feel neglected because her dad is not around the way he is for your son. Also, make sure he realizes (and you as well) that it is probably NOT purposeful, as I am sure these grandparents don't want a resentful grandchild or daughter-in-law. Good luck, and please try not to take this so personally. I am sure that the issue is much more obvious to you than it is to them.
S.C. answers from Norfolk on February 21, 2008
You mention that you are engaged. Is there a date set? That kind of follow through on commitment may make a difference to your future in laws. they may just be compensating for the fact that this little girl could be absorbed into another family if her mom marries and they may be trying to buy a permanent place in her life. I would not take it personally or bring it up to them. They know where they spend their time and money. You can provide for your child just fine. I would not make a big deal to your child as he gets older either. It would just encourage a victim attitude. If you feel he will feel slighted keep a stash of small fun gifts and pull one out for him when she gets a box. Don't lie and say it is from the grandparents just give him a little gift from you. If he is secure in the fact that his parents love him he won't worry about it.
J.W. answers from Washington DC on February 21, 2008
I know you have received several replies to your question, but...If your husband has let his parents know how they are hurting their grandson with their actions, then I would do this...when presents are sent to the daughter, I would open them find anything appropriate for the son and give it to him. There is no reason to even give more than the card to her if they are already sending things to where she is the rest of the time. It seems that this is just a way to make sure you know they are sending her things and nothing to Brandon.
You might send them a copy of your letter.
Next, I would pray. And this really should be first. God can heal many hurts and hearts. This may be the hardest to do, but pray for a change in your heart toward them. God may allow you to see and reach out to the grandparents to change the situation. It may be caused by something you can't even imagine.
It could well be that they are ignoring your son because you and your boyfriend had this child out of wedlock. They may not be willing to acknowledge him until you are married. There are many consequences to our actions.
My sister's husband was a policeman killed in the line of duty. Their son was born a few days after his death. His parents treated this child like a stranger. They never came to visit him when they would come to visit their son's grave (they lived in a different town). They seldom acknowledged J even existed, though my sister make a point of taking him to visit them often. After a while my sister just stopped trying to include them in their lives. To their death, the grandparents ignored him. He is a wonderful young man now, who has taken the name of his step-father. Those grandparents cut themselves off from a lot of love and the chance to be very proud of their grandson. It was their loss.
A.H. answers from Lynchburg on February 21, 2008
It's good that you are noticing the problem right now, when Brandon's 2 1/2 yrs old. Because right now he can only kinda understand that the girl gets more packages, but it will be more apparent as he gets older.
You mentioned that Mike asked his parents why they do not treat them the same, and their response was they don't know what to get him....maybe you should talk to them face to face about it. Maybe it's time for a family trip to visit his grandparents. You can be HONEST about it and say you are hurt and feel like they don't love Brandon and her the same. Then THINK THE BEST OF THEM and say that maybe they don't spend enough time with him to get to know him. Take some of the blame for that part. Tell them you'd like Brandon to have a good relationship with his grandparents and so you'd like to plan an family trip to spend more time together. Maybe start with a short trip, not to overwhelm either sides. Then work your way into longer trips. You both can make an effort.
Those 5-7 weeks that the girl spends with her grandparents are times that they really get to know each other and really connect. Think about your own life...when you have a lot of experiences with someone, you grow closer together. You begin to care for the person more deeply, b/c of those times. That's what's happening, maybe unintentionally.
Tell them that you are jealous of the relationship that she has with them. Say that they are being great grandparents to her (PRAISING THEIR EFFORTS), and would love for Brandon and them to have that close relationship as time goes on.
Also, some people really connect with older kids rather than younger kids. That could be another reason. Some people connect with girls more than boys or vice versa.
So, being honest up front (in love). Thinking the best of them. Then being willing to be a part of the solution.
Have Brandon make cards for them and send his "drawing," papers, and recent pictures of him. Suggest they put his picture on the fridge. When they see his picture, they will think of him more often.
I hope this helps in some way. Keep us updated :)
J.D. answers from Washington DC on February 21, 2008
How frustrating. Give Brandon an extra big squeeze. I don't think your in-laws are being fair, but maybe they're not intending to be unfair. Some things to consider: are they threatened by the fact that Mike's daughter does not live with him and want to make sure to make the extra effort to stay in her life; are they thinking that Brandon is still too young to recognize when he does or does not receive a gift; is there something about your relationship w/ Mike that they don't like and are taking it out on Brandon? Regardless, could Mike just have a direct, candid discussion with his parents? Good luck.
L.J. answers from Washington DC on February 21, 2008
Hi A., I am in a similar situation and I really feel your frustration in your writing. I am really sorry people don't see what they are doing and actually I think they do see sometimes. I think from my opinion it is not your responsibility to say anything to his parents. It is your husbands job to set his parents straight. When my mom says things out of line to my husband I instantly handle it and he doesn't have to say a word. I think your husband needs to say something before you blow up and say the wrong thing. Does he get upset about this or are you just frustrated all by yourself? My husbands mother was showing favortism with her other grandchildren and my husband actually really let her have it and now she sees that it is not right. I hope this helps you a little bit. It really is not good for you to let these people ruin your day or steal your joy. Sit your husband down and tell him to handle it or you are going to have to let these people know how you feel otherwise they are going to continue to do what they are doing. I think sometimes men are scared to approach their parents with confrontation so they say nothing and except it. And no I do not think you should just let it go and take it. Some people feel like nothing is gonna change so why say anything and that does nothing but leave you all angry inside. Let them know since your husband has brought it up, they should have thought about then. You teach people how to treat you (As Dr. Phil says daily). here is my email address ____@____.com if you want to talk. take care L.
K.B. answers from Washington DC on February 21, 2008
Ah, the life of a blended family! Sometimes it truly sucks. I am a mother of 4. Two of which are from a previous marriage of mine, then one is from my husband's previous relationship (this child lives with us) and then together we have one child. My in laws are constantly doing for the daughter of my husband. Our son together is the only one to carry on the family's last name so I would think they would be thrilled but alas....The granddaughter can do no wrong. I know exactly how you feel. It is frustrating as a parent to watch one being treated different than the other. I have just come to learn to leave it alone. I have tried having my husband talk to his parents but it leaves tension, I have tried talking to them myself but they don't listen to me. At this point (9 years later) I have just come to overlook it. It does not make the hurt go away but at least there is no viable tension during family gatherings. I wish you the best of luck. Just constantly remind your son that he is loved. The grandparents lose out in the end.
L.S. answers from Washington DC on February 21, 2008
Unfortunately, you can not make the grandparents treat your child equally. They may not consider your son a grandchild as you and their son are not married. This may change when you get married and it may not. You or your fiance need to have a conversation with them. Don't accuse them, but gently point out that you feel they treat your son differently, and ask why. It may simply be an age thing. My father-in-law appeared to favor our older boy (6-8) when our daughter was little (2-3) but really just didn't have a clue as to how to interact with a child of that age. Especially one that didn't talk very much.
If it doesn't appear that things will change, you may have to just come to terms with the situation and take steps to minimize the impact on your son. Start by telling the grandparents that they may no longer send presents to their granddaughter at your home, make sure that your son's father will back you up on this. Provide them with the address of her mother and refuse to accept any packages that are delivered to your home for her. As for the time issue, again you can not require that they spend time with your son. Make the most of the time that they do spend with him. Most importantly don't make comparisons or complaints about them in the presence of your son. Children are very accepting of what love is given to them and at age three he won't realize that he is being treated differently unless is is pointed out to him.
A.P. answers from Washington DC on February 21, 2008
I have this same issue with my daughter and step-daughter. My husband's family is always favoring step-daughter and so far my daughter has not noticed. I spoke to my husband about it and he feels like our daughter has a great life, with a mom that stays home and a dad that is here with her everyday while step-daughter has a crappy life with a bad mom. They feel like they need to make up for that with extravagant gifts and spending time with her. So maybe when they slight your child, it is a compliment to you! They need to stop sending those packages to your house though if they are not going to include your child. Have them ship it to the mother's house.
D.R. answers from Norfolk on February 21, 2008
Boy, nothing hurts like somebody hurting or slighting our kids in any way does it? Mike's parents are obviously ignorant--sorry, but that's the truth. Keep in mind though, that when people get older, they often do not want to deal with very young children, they just don't have the energy anymore. It's been so long since their children were that age that they just can't relate anymore. The ten year old though is at an age where she can converse and pretty much take care of herself. She doesn't have to be watched every minute, doesn't have to be fed or changed and can ask for what she wants. In other words, just easier for grandparents to deal with. It doesn't excuse them from bringing gifts to your son, by any means, hence the ignorance. It's just an explanation. It's much easier to know what a ten year old girl would like than a three year old boy. Understand? I have 7 grandchildren, 2 of whom are 3 year old boys and I had to ask their parents for suggestions of what to get them for Christmas this past year. I don't even know what half the stuff is that is advertised for kids these days. I think that when your son gets older, Mike's parents will pay more attention to him. Or not. It could be that they just prefer girls. Unlike parents, grandparents can have favorites. If they don't come around--it's their loss. But don't stress yourself out over it. I think that you AND Mike should sit down with them and tell them how you feel--and then just let it go. You can't make them change or do the right thing if they don't want to. Good luck and God bless. Abuela
K.H. answers from Dover on February 21, 2008
I am wondering if all the spoiling is coming from them trying to "make up" for her parents no longer being together (her mom and dad), and maybe they assume she feels weird and out of place within your family, so they are trying to distract her and ease that in the only way they can think of...presents. Also, maybe they think that your parents might not treat the grandaughter as their own (some don't), and they are just givng giving giving to her so she wont notice or something. Maybe there is just misunderstandings and their intentions are to make her feel included....and they are just unaware that what they are doing is making brandon feel not included. I would seriously sit down with them and tell everything you want to them, all that is in this question...and tell them that they need to treat them both the same, or none of it will be allowed. But while the grandaughter and grandson are living under the same roof...they need to respect your request, and explain why you are requesting it. And stick to your guns...if presents show up for the daughter, and not the son...put it away...don't even give it out, and return it back to them or something. Sounds like they either don't get what it going on, or really need an eye opener to the idea that you are really serious and it is bothering you. Good luck!
S.H. answers from Washington DC on February 21, 2008
If Mike has already addressed his parents, then they are obviously doing this on purpose. They may have a problem with you,and taking it out on the child. I have a friend whose parents do not like her husband, and they do not treat her step children very nicely - and the 14-year-old girl has noticed! I don't really have advice on what to do, other than just know that there are many people in this world who lack kindness and graciousness. Perhaps when your son is older, the grandparents may find it easier to take him shopping. If you feel comfortable addressing them with your concern, you should do so. Maybe hearing it from you will make a difference. Many people continue a behavior, if they think they can get away with it! There is no excuse for sending a care package to one, and not the other. If you said, right away, that if they send the granddaughter a gift, then they need to send one to Brandon, they would think twice next time. There is nothing wrong by telling them that favoring one gradchild is mean, and it will be hard to explain to Brandon (as he gets older),why his paternal grandparents don't treat him the same. If they realize that Brandon may develop resentment toward them based on their actions, they may change. If they don't, he doesn't need that kind of peron in his life anyway. Since they live so far away, limiting their time together won't be so hard
A.F. answers from Norfolk on February 21, 2008
hey A.,i am sorry that you are going through this kinda stuff,it is soo hurtfull to us moms when we see someone who is sappossed to be loving our children to death falling short of our expectations. it isnt fare to your little guy and it shouldnt be happening. unfortunatly this is all too common. i see it all the time with myself and girlfriends and my sisters.both of my boys are from my husband and yet they both get very different treatment from there grandparents.my husbands father dotes sooo much on our oldest because it was his first grandchild but has made no effort to get to know our 2 1/2 year old. and my husbands mom is only a good grandma when she is right infront of my kds,the seconed she is gone we never hear from her.i am not telling you what you should do because everybody is defferent and every situatin is dfferent. but what i did with my husbands father is tell him that from now on if he sent a letter to our oldest he needed to send one to our youngest and that goes for everything. i let him know that if he didnt i would not allow my oldest to recieve his gifts. i was very direct and straight forward and to the point. he tryed to act like he didnt know what i was talking about and acted all defensive but i needed him to know that i was aware of what he was doing and i wasnt going to tollerate it.use as much force as you are willing to use to get your little guy the equal treatment that he deserves. also invite them over more. if you want them involved more in his life create the situations in wich this can happen. have him write them a sweet note and incourage them to write him back,have him call his grandma to say hi and encorage her to call him too. you might end up having to force this relationship at first but it might pay off in the end. you are such a good mom and wether or not they ever come around the way they should your little guy is sooo lucky to have a wonderful mom like you who is so conserned for his happyness. if you want to talk more my e mail adress is ____@____.com abby