in-laws playing favorites?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by maxeygirls, Jul 27, 2010.

  1. maxeygirls

    maxeygirls New Member

    My in-laws have 5 grandkids; husband's son(7 years, lives with ex wife), our difficult child and easy child(almost 4 years old, 13 months old), and his sister's daughter(3 years) and new baby(6 months). We've seen the show of favoritism since difficult child was born, husband's son always got spoiled rotten during holidays and difficult child has never gotten more than a toy from the drugstore... ever. I had some pretty nasty problems with the in-laws while husband was deployed but was surprised when husband's sister actually bought my girls some pretty cute toys. She has only gotten things for difficult child twice but I've made sure to get her daughter something for every birthday and holiday. My real problem is with husband's parents though.
    Saturday was husband's niece's 3rd birthday party. We went, against my will and when it was time to open gifts, difficult child was sitting in her uncle's lap and watching with a terrible look on her face as her cousin opened huge, expensive toys from the family. I knew she was starting to see a difference at Christmas while husband was gone but now I know she really sees it. husband has noticed it but this time it was so blatant that he walked right out the back door, plopped down into a chair and hung his head. I of course hung around to witness difficult child's pained expression. Directly after that, she found me and asked if we could go home now.
    I'm fed up. My mother in law insisted she take easy child shopping for her 1st birthday present and showed up with my sis in law and her two kids. difficult child watched as she bought easy child some shoes on sale, crazy expensive shoes for sis in law's new baby, and anything and everything sis in law's daughter pointed to. I watched difficult child as she became more and more withdrawn. I noticed a huge difference on Saturday because she didn't run to my mother in law, just walked over and said hello.
    I know that difficult child is only 3, almost 4 but it's obvious she sees the difference in treatment. I work hard to teach her that it isn't material items that matter but a kid is still going to see a huge difference in how they are treated.
    I really want to say something to husband's family but what? How would you deal with this? Any time husband tried to talk to them about how they treated me while he was deployed(who other can of worms), they acted clueless and innocent. husband is all for saying something but what do we say? Aside from never going over there, I don't see ignoring the problem as a solution.
  2. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    MG - oh my. I was an only child/only grandchild on one side, so that was never an issue for me - and on the other side, my cousins lived too far away. With Onyxx and Jett, we try, but they're so different - well, last Christmas Onyxx got Guitar Hero - HUGE box - Jett got a DS package, several games, headphones, etc. His actually cost more. I try to keep the number of gifts even.

    My parents? Seem to do pretty well at this, too.

    father in law? Cards and money for all.

    mother in law? Spoils Jett rotten - because he visits her. Everyone else is old enough to be tired of her machinations. But she just buys and buys and buys, for everyone.

    Maybe your husband can say something like... "I know you don't get to see <grandson> as often as you'd like, but it's really starting to look like you're playing favorites. What can WE do to make it LOOK better?"

    Just me $0.02.
  3. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    I have had this problem with my mother in law favoring one of my girls over the other. Very blatant, even after we have explicitly said she must do the same for both. husband has had more than one conversation with her about this, and I think she may have gotten better. But, we don't see them very often, and I do my best to control the situation so it can't happen.

    I will not use her as a babysitter anymore when we travel because I don't trust her to treat them the same when we are not there. I will not let her take them shopping any more without a dollar limit set.

    Now that I think about it, she hasn't gotten better, there just haven't been any opportunities for her to do anything recently. When I set a dollar limit for birthday shopping for one girl, she spent that and then bought some other things that "were not part of the birthday gift". For just that girl. The other one was not included in this trip and didn't get a shopping trip then or later.

    If my daughter notices the favoritism, she hasn't made it clear. In the end, my mother in law will pay the price of not having a good relationship with her. I am trying to protect her from the worst of it, but there is only so much we can do.

    I think your husband should be the one to talk to them, but in our case, it didn't really do much good.
  4. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    What a trying situation and i wish I had good advice to offer. I would suggest that you and husband discuss what he thinks MIGHT work for him to say to his parents.

    My mother always did this. My brother until adulthood (and no more contact between my mother and myself) always received multiple big ticket thoughtful presents while I always received a token gift that had zero thought. The very last Christmas gift I received from her was a 2 piece body wash/lotion set. They had been opened and used once each, and obviously were a gift to my mother that she didn't end up liking so threw in a gift bag and sent to me for Christmas morning. Despite my age, it hurt. Not so much the money but the extreme lack of thought or caring, which to me is the purpose of giving a gift. She did the same with my difficult child and easy child. difficult child was often given 4-5 gifts for birthday and christmas. She would ask what they both wanted, buy several nice things off difficult child's list, pick nothing off easy child's wish list but instead buy some discounted video at the grocery store that was wildly not age appropriate or a discounted teddy bear with the price still on. Why she managed to always leave price tags on my things or easy child's, but managed to remove from my bro's and difficult children? Well to prove her point more ;)

    I ended the madness years before I ended all contact, by refusing to allow more than $20 per child per occassion, max. Period. She really didn't like it. She'd never SPENT $20 on easy child for a gift. But she'd never spent less than a hundred and up on difficult child. So she was at first trying to sneak around it, but I refused to allow her to. I ended up telling her the $20 limit was because I was teaching them that a grandparents love isn't in form of presents, but in form of demonstrated love and togetherness. So the $20 gift was a token gesture and nothing more and that they'd find it more special when she had to hunt to find a really special gift within the assigned budget. The first few years I even unwrapped the gifts to ensure she followed the rules, then wrapped the back up again. Sad, but I didn't believe she would honor the whole concept. It ended up being the only way easy child wasn't hurt by her grandmother over and over. It is not always about the material aspect that makes kids hurt so bad in this situation. It is for sure ALL about them feeling they hold no value and someone else is "better than them" or "More deserving" etc. What a horrible way for a child to feel!

    Maybe you and husband could pick a limit and spin it the same way? You could always tell your kids it was YOUR idea, so that in future at cousins parties when they see big ticket gifts being given, they will not feel rejected or "less than" their cousins? You could tell your kids that you asked inlaws to limit it to x amount of dollars because you are trying to teach them (insert lesson here). It would remove stigma that your kids might feel, trump the inlaws favoritism by controlling the situation. You may never be able to get the inlaws to treat all the grands equally. So if that won't happen, at least your kids can be spared the hurt every time they might have seen favoritism. And heck, maybe the other siblings will see what you and husband have done about presents from the grands, be a bit embarassed about how spoiled their kids are by the grands, and implement something of the like for themselves too??
  5. maxeygirls

    maxeygirls New Member

    Mattsmom- how I wish that would work! They started a system like that 3 years ago, we could all spend $10-20 on birthday gifts, no more, no less. For Christmas we drew names out of a hat for adults and the limit was $40-50, but the $20 limit still stood for the kids and each adult could get each kid a present... My stepson and niece had tons of gifts that first Christmas while difficult child sat there with one Elmo book, sale tag still on it. Even at 18 months old, she knew something was amiss as she looked at the other two kids stashes but she smiled brightly and played with her single toy since her brother yelled at her any time she touched his stuff. It's been that way ever since.
    My sis in law really seems to be changing, she got both of my girls a few very nice (not expensive but well thought out and age appropriate) toys for Christmas. The toys she bought are the girls favorites and I'd say she spent at least $100 total on both of them. I wouldn't care if she spent $5, she got age appropriate toys which she really thought about, which is huge for her.
    I'm leaving my brother in law out of this, he has helped us out many times(financially and with jobs, moving, etc) and doesn't have kids of his own so he may not understand it as well.
    Our big problem is husband's parents. husband wants to be the one to talk to them and I'm thinking maybe his best approach is to explain why we don't come out there or invite them to the girls parties, instead of asking them why they treat our kids this way or telling them to change. That way, we aren't demanding anything from them but at least they know why we aren't around.
    I also don't want husband to get angry and go into the fact that they're ignoring my birthday, a pretty big "oops" considering easy child and I have the same birthday (most awesome birthday present ever!) and my mother in law actually brought me a birthday cake in the hospital last year when I had easy child. This is about the kids and frankly I was overjoyed when easy child was born on my birthday because it takes the focus off of me.
    I'm still up in the air about inviting them to difficult child's party after we talk to them, I guess we'll have to see how the little talk goes. They still don't even realize we had a party for easy child's first birthday, they weren't invited.
  6. joneshockey

    joneshockey Guest

    Sorry to hear that you are having so many issues with the grandparents. My inlaws are a lot like yours it sound like, except they are tactful at thier spoilings - They buy and buys and buys for my sisterlaws 2 kids, but hardly ever buy things for my 2 boys... I always hear about these giving of gift second hand weather from my sisterinlaw herself or the kids when I talk to them. When I say "tactfully" I mean theya re given to them on the side when know one else is around. My main issue with- both my parents and my inlaws are how they show favoritism between the kids. When my sisterinlaw comes into town for visits my inlaws take them all sorts of places (the museum, movies, chuck e cheese, you name it) and we NEVER get invited to go with them or anything. We live in the same town as the inlaws and I swear they see my sisterinlaws kids MORE (even though they live out of state) than they see mine. We often call and try to arrange visits, but my motherinlaw always seems to have some excuse (mostly that she is too tired). They just don't seem to have any interest in being a part of my kids daily/weekly lives. Sure we get together on holidays and birthdays, but never at any other time. As for my parents - My Mom severely has 1st grandchild syndrome. She has B1 up on this pedistal and he can do no wrong. He gets invited to go places with- her (like up to the cabin for weekends or to have sleepovers) when B2 has only stayed overnight 1 night in almost 4 years and that was only because FF1 had surgery that day. I even overheard her telling my Dad once that they would probably never take B2 to the cabin with-o me because of his behavior (which by the way wasn't that bad at the time because his medications had already started to work well)! B2 is now etting to the age where he is starting to notice the favoritism. He often asks me why he can't go ___ with- grandma. I am almost to the point of not allowing her to take B1 without alternating between the 2 boys. I am lucky however with the spending aspect of things though. She has always been straight 50/50 on everything even we I was growing up @ x-mas time both my sister and I knew we got X number of $ so we may or may not have the same number of gifts because of the cost factor. I would definately have your husband say something to the inlaws because difficult child will only continue to get more resentful as she gets older if you don't put a stop to it now!
  7. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Hmmm, Call me cold, but if I really felt nothing could change things I'd probably end up reallllly blacklisted. Because I'd buy a bunch of gifts, wrap them up and stash in the trunk of car. Next time it happened like that, after all the gifts were opened I'd sneak a card with my kids names under the tree. WHen opened it would read: Bet I fooled you! You thought ALL the other kids were getting nice thoughtful gifts and You weren't! How SILLY! You are just as special! Now run to mom/dad, get the trunk key for the car, and find your secret stash of special presents."

    Goal one: make kids feel the same as all the others
    Goal two: show the ADULTS that these kids would obviously feel like poopola for being always left behind so to speak

    I'd probably be uninvited to future gatherings ;) But I'd be okay with that because this kind of thing gets on my nerves lol

    I'm glad that some in laws are doing better, that has to be a good feeling and bodes well for a possibility of figuring out how to make sure your kids aren't ever feeling less important.

    Barring that, stock ye trunk ;)
  8. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I would either stop going or do what Mattsmom said and have gifts for my kids to open. It stinks they're feelings are hurt and you can only do so much to protect them. husband is hurting too - this is a rejection of him as much as the children.
  9. maxeygirls

    maxeygirls New Member

    Mattsmom, what a wonderful idea. And I have a minivan with only the captain's chairs being used, hmm. I think we'll combine ideas a bit. husband already wants to talk to them and Im going to convince him not to snap... somehow, even if I have to go buy 2 Rockstar energy drinks to calm him down first... Then I'll invite them to difficult child's party and if they don't show or make any effort to recognize her birthday in another way(invite us over for dinner, ask to stop by) or if they stop by the local drugstore for yet another $8 doll (difficult child hates dolls, give the girl a tool belt, spy glasses, something other than yet another doll from the drugstore), I think we'll just bring our own gifts for difficult child and easy child at Christmas but I don't think we'll hide them. I'm not worried about the other kids not getting spoiled and we'll bring just enough to make our girls feel special. Of course we'll always bring gifts for the other kids but this year I'll make things a little bit more even... hmm... I bet the in-laws will be grinning as we walk through the door with all those presents, thinking how spoiled the other kids will be.

    difficult child has been wanting a ok so thats a bit extreme... pony? I've transported those in a minivan before.... thinking, thinking.... maybe I'll just save up my $$$ and go on a shopping spree at Toys R Us. Even better, maybe we should just skip the in-laws gift this year? husband gets the same treatment as difficult child and easy child and has all of his life, why not save the money and use it for our kids?

    You know, thinking about this has honestly brought up all the insane things my mother in law has asked of me. "I know you saved every penny and bought your $600 double jogging stroller so you can get out of the house while husband is deployed but can I borrow it for husband's sister? What about your new breast pump? Can I have difficult child's $300 car seat? easy child's swing? Playpen? Monitor?" or even better "Can we take easy child for the weekend? We're going to visit family in another state." that was funny, easy child was 6 months old and breastfed at the time.
    My mother in law has told me to be understanding when husband's ex wife attacked me because her husband just deployed and it's hard for her with only two sets of grandparents and a handful of friends to help.... husband had been gone half a year already, difficult child had been in the hospital 2x, easy child was barely 3 months old with a dairy allergy and fractured collarbone from birth...yeah I need to be more understanding...
    Giving difficult child 3x the amount of Melatonin that I instructed for 3 days, letting her ride in a backless booster seat after I supplied them with a car seat and said it had to be used... they don't watch our kids anymore.
    I'm starting to wonder how husband turned out even slightly normal :confused:
  10. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Survival of the fittest, combined with an onslaught of recessive genes, apparently.

  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    As I was reading this, I was thinking, "Take your own gifts for your child, even if you have to fake label from the grandparents." MattsMom, you took the wind out of my sails!

    Seriously - if you put on the label that the present you bought is form grandparents, it would be very interesting to see how they react. But then- what price honesty? Maybe it's just better to have an anonymous gift for her, to make up for the lack elsewhere. Besides, idiot grandparents would find a way to stuff this up especially if they're neglect is deliberate.

    I saw similar rubbish with one of my nephews. His mother was an only child and very pampered. Her parents were delighted when she was pregnant. Her mother died not long after my nephew's first birthday. Soon afterwards her father came to live with them, having sold his home to finance one of my brother's schemes. Grandad lived in his own grandad flat, and spoiled his grandson rotten. Nephew was a horrible kid (love him to pieces now) who had too many toys and often focussed on how long it would take to break them. He really had too much and I think was horrible because he didn't know where to turn, had too much trouble choosing. Trying to break toys fast was his way of cutting down on quantity.

    Then sis-in-law got pregnant. Her father was furious - how dare a mother try to share her love with a second child? His beloved grandson would soon be second-best and miss out, all because his mother was being selfish and wanting a second baby.
    Then the baby was born - a sweet little girl. Grandad was devoted to her and entirely forgot grandson. Totally, thoughtlessly cruel. And my brother and his wife, frankly, didn't do enough to balance things out. Thought it was amusing. I didn't. I could see my nephew was hurting. They are still a close family (grandad died decades ago) but nephew married an abusive, violent woman who has told him that if he has anything to do with his parents, e will never see her or his daughters again. So nephew was unable to reply to our wedding invitations for our kids, unable to attend (although we sent him a message that if he wanted to just drop in, we would make sure he would be welcomed and have a place). He's occasionally got special dispensation to see his father, as on his 70th birthday. I met my great-nieces there for the first time. Probably the only time. Very sad. But I do feel his choice of wife (an abuser) was because he had been taught to accept abuse and second-rate treatment form people who are supposed to love you unconditionally.

    So never let this happen to your kids, without doing something to redress the wrong.

  12. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    This is one reason we do not see my mother in law. She lives about 90 minutes away. If she had any interest in being a good grandparent to my kids I would have bent over backwards to make sure we saw her regularly even though I personally have no use for her because she treats husband very thoughtlessly.

    She did not want to be a "granny" even though her daughter was almost 30 when our nephew was born. I wasn't in the picture then. mother in law fell in love with nephew, who is an awesome young man and was an awesome kid. When husband and I got preg she whined a lot that having 2 grandkids would take too much of her time and that it would make her too old. She was very careless with his well being and safety. The ONE time she watched him she totally ignored his needs including leaving him in a poopy diaper for over 30 minutes. The last Christmas we saw her thank you wasn't even born. She insisted on keeping lit candles sitting all around the FLOOR even though Jessie was only 2. Her gifts were beond thoughtless including some very racist cartoons. She had 2 gifts for each of my kids. Then nephew came with his parents. She had a HUGE, elaborate treasure hunt with over 20 clues (each one a gift costing at least $10) that was geared ONLY for nephew. Nephew was MORTIFIED and kept trying to include Wiz in things (Jess had no clue what was going on.) but mother in law would shoulder Wiz aside or tell husband to get him "out of the way". The final gift was big and I moved into another room to keep Jess out from underfoot.

    Even though she had a HUGE dinner cooked and ready with a hanm, a turkey, four pies, at least a gallon of mashed potatoes, and a bunch of other stuff, all we were invited to have so far were cookies and iced water or tea. mother in law came to me during the hubbub with the last gift and told me it was time to get husband and "those kids" out of her house so they could have Christmas Dinner. This was at 5:30 Christmas Day. I got us out in 15 min. husband and Wiz were to spend the night with his dads, which was on the way to my parents (we were visiting from OH). I was so upset I couldn't even go in to father in law and stepMILs. Jessie and I ate snacks from the only gas station open. It was her christmas dinner because she fell asleep in the car.

    I have only seen mother in law once since then. She and sister in law drove to see us when thank you was about 6 weeks old. They drove to OH from OK, called us to let us know when they were 2 hours away (we had no other notice - sister in law thought mother in law had made arrangements with us) spent 2 HOURS with us then went back. sister in law thought they were staying overnight but mother in law refused to after making sister in law drive her all that way.

    husband and the kids saw her once a few years ago. She dropped by sister in law's house not realizing we had been invited for the cookout. When she saw that they were there, she left as soon as she could.

    If the grandparents cannot treat the kids with some measure of equality then they probably do not need to see them. All they will teach your kids is that they are worthless or that one of them is valued and the others are not. NOT a message any child needs, in my opinion.
  13. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Makes grandparents have a bad name!

    There is always going to be some form of special bond that each child has in the family. We are all still trying to find what that space is with Hailie besides her Uncle's evil Keyana is Papa's angel, Grandma's Princess and her Uncle Billy's Monkeybutt. Mikey is the only boy and is everyones little man. I have no doubt he will grow up to prefer Chaucer to football just to annoy the menfolk. LOL. I presume I would be run out of town on rails if I suggested toddler dance classes for him and hailie...lmao.

    You can treat kids somewhat different but you have to balance the love. Every kid doesnt have to get a ball in 3 different colors just to be fair. My dad tried doing that trick a time or two and it works well for easter baskets but for other things, I think basic dollar amounts or even....maybe time spent with a favored person could be the better gift.

    I thought I had come up with this really mature and cool and adult entrance into my teen boys birthdays. As each of them hit the milestone of their 13th birthday....I took them to Red Lobster and allowed the to order a real live Lobster and eat the whole thing themselves. Also get one of those fruity drinks and back then they had the red lobster on the necklace and they would come sing to them with birthday cake.

    Billy loved it, Cory loved it. Jamie cried. Oh he liked the meal ok but he was ticked of because while he was at home eating this delectable meal, Tony took Cory fishing and to this day Jamie will always say that was his worst birthday I simply couldnt win! I could have sent a twinkie in a lunch box with a frozen bottle of water and it would have saved me 75 bucks and he would been thrilled.
  14. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    I've dealt with some of this as an adult. My mother favored my sister growing up. She was cute, outgoing, giggly, into all the "girly" stuff. I was happiest going on fishing trips with my tomboy.

    Then, my sister got married and produced the two golden grandchildren. I was infertile. husband and I were never able to have children...she didn't understand why once we found out we both carried a genetic disorder, we decided not to pursue the fertility issues any further.

    I can blame some of it on my having moved nearly 300 miles away after husband died, but not all of it. There is no question that my sister and my neice and nephew are favored. I understand that--I cannot rush down to help her out.

    She did fly up here and stay for six weeks when I nearly died of an infection secondary to bowel surgery a few years ago, but there is no way in heck she could make the drive up here. She is 75 years old and getting physically frail with each passing year.

    Her mind is still as sharp as ever it was (and her tongue, LoL), but arthritis is slowing her way down plus she has other health issues.