Monday, January 04, 2010

playing favourites

When people ask me which baby's my favourite, I joke and say "the one that's sleeping the best".

Okay, it isn't really a joke :)

When the babies were discharged from NICU, my mother was here for four weeks. During that time, she basically took Kendra during the day while D was at work and I'd tend to Connor.

So I understand that she has a soft spot for Kendra.
But wait.

On Christmas Day, we're opening presents and she says "this is for the twins and this one is for Kendra".

Well, I was gobsmacked.

I am very rarely speechless but I was that day.

I exchanged glances with D who is quicker with the smart retort than I am so he said, "oh N, you're playing favourites already" and she laughed.

I was SOOOOOOOOOOOOO hurt for Connor I'm even tearing up now typing this.

I'm ashamed to say I didn't deal with it very well at that moment - I just moved on very quickly but I gave my boy some extra hugs and kisses.

D and I only had a chance to speak about it the next day and we've since decided that, in future, we will say something like "we can't accept it since our parenting philosphy is to treat the kids the same".

He had another option - to just go out and buy the other child something - but I said Nooooo, that doesn't feel right.

By the way, I'd said to everyone to please buy ONE thing for the both of them - I am a FREAK about lots of clutter and am totally in the less is more camp.

Do you think we're being reasonable or not? Or am I overreacting because of the sleep deprivation (they'd woken 3 times each the previous night)?

Please feel free to be 100% honest with me.

Oh! On the whole, she does seem to favour Kendra - I always find her holding Kendra, talking to her, etc. Not so much with Connor and honestly, he is EASY to love - he "talks" to anyone who talks to him, smiles a lot, etc. So there is no excuse as far as I'm concerned.

Can you feel the fierceness of my mother love? It's scary actually. I now know I will KILL for them :)


  1. I'm sure the lack of sleep didn't help, but I can understand how you feel. I'd feel mad if someone favored Tommy because he's the first born or if someone favored Liam because he's the serious sitting still one. Thankfully, we haven't seen that happen. We do see that the boys themselves have favorites. Of course both boys adore Mommy, but Tommy's eyes follow me everywhere and Liam's eyes tend to follow his Aunt Nicki. It's really kind of funny to see. I think when you are less sleep deprived, you should talk to your mom nicely to nip it in the bud. But if she chooses not to listen, don't worry. Kids are amazingly perceptive as they get older.

  2. Oooo wow! I think I would only really be concerned if you think it may continue. I know my father favors Emma but that is only because Claire will scream her head off if he picks her up. I'm really torn on this because I think it's totally fine for the kids to have a special person in their life. I had my aunt growing up, she would bring me presents on my sister's birthday and would take me out and never my sister, but on the flip side my sister had my mother to tend to her but not me so we had a bit of a balance. I would never want one of my kids to feel less loved/involved/ect. but treating kids exactly the same is difficult and I don't think some individual attention is bad at all. Oh I'm so torn and not much help. I think I'd tell her to skip it on big holidays and focus on things like girls days with K if this continues as they get older.

  3. I think that when you are sleep-deprived, everything seems much worse than normal. Your emotions are heightened and you respond to things differently. Having said that, though, I can understand that your Mama Bear instincts to protect your baby boy rear up. You want to see him justified and treated fairly, and I think you are 100% right. I would suggest you discuss it with your mom, as a previous commenter said. I think that when things go unsaid, assumptions are made, and most often, heartache could've been avoided had the truth been expressed. Who knows? She may have a reason you are unaware of, or she may have no clue the impact of her actions. I agree with the other person who said that we ALL bond differently with people, and it makes sense to be drawn to someone we've spent more time with or who has a similar character trait. If she feels a special bond with K, probably the best thing she can do is to wait for other days to bring her a special gift or take her out. And, if I were you, I'd find something special for C at that time- not that you have to buy him a gift every time, but maybe he can have a day out with Grandpa or with Mom or Dad...

    Perhaps a conversation is the best place to start, though :-)

  4. Personally I think it is okay for a grandparent to give special gifts once in a while to just one kid. It is impossible to treat your kids the same and as a multiple myself I think it is important for kids to realize that sometimes they have more special bonds with one relative (or friend) than another. You won't expect them to have the same friends, etc. when they are older? It was one gift and your mom might surprise you with something special for your son. I find it hard because my son was a better BFer so I bonded more with him and I don't mind that my mom spoils Penny to some extent. As for my husbands' parents my daughter is my father-in-laws obvious favorite (her to him too) and my mother-in-law spends more time with Ned. One thing we are doing is that on Saturday mornings we are going to trade off taking Ned to swim lessons with the other parent doing something fun with Penny - each will have alone time with a parent. Anyway, this is long winded but you have so much on your plate right now - adjusting to work, lack of sleep, worrying about every little thing - my personality is to try to let the little things go. If your mom completely ignored Connor this would be a very different post! Good luck!

  5. Hi Leigh!
    happy new year!
    alright, so my opinion... I believe it is quite normal and expected that grandparents will inevitably have favorites. It's fine, you cannot prevent a special relationship from happening between Kendra and gradma. However, you, as parents, cannot do the same. Connor won't be as hurt by grandma's favoritism towards his sister, as Kendra would be if you start favoring Connor to counter grandma's attitude. Parent's love have much more impact in our self esteem than grandparents'. Specially now that they don't notice much, regarding who gets gifts, I mean, it's fine. When they grow up a little and if grandma does something that you see is hurting Connor's feelings, THEN you have to talk to her and ask her to please be more discreet and to please try to treat them the same.

  6. When my children were growing up I had the same feelings you do. I wanted them to be treated the same, no favorites.

    However, my oldest son was and is my mothers favorite and my youngest son was and is my mother in laws favorite. It bugged the crap out of me. It still does. I do believe the reasons for this is because when my oldest son was a baby my mother got to spend a lot of time with him. When the youngest was a baby my mother in law spent extra time with him. That seems to have created the tighter bond I see between them.

    You wanna know something funny? My oldest son's daughter is my mothers favorite great granddaughter. My youngest son's daughter is my mother in laws favorite great granddaughter! It bugs the crap out of me. Neither of them get to see one more than the other BUT they seem drawn to the daughter of the favored grandson.

    Not that each son and each granddaughter aren't loved by the other grandmother but there's this "difference" and yes, if you know what you're looking for you see it.

    There are extra little looks, kisses, hugs and pats. There's a subtle difference in gifts. The favored one always seems to have a little something extra or something that is just a bit nicer than the others. The favored one is the one that grandmother talks about most and with a reverence you don't hear when speaking about the others. It never ceases to get my hackles up. Though I've never dressed my mother or my mother in law down for it because it's never been an blatant favoritism. For that I'm grateful. Otherwise I'd've had to lay down the law.

    Now that I'm a grandmother, I can honestly say I don't favor one over the other. But I'm in a unique situation. I've been the babysitter for both of them from birth until age 4 with the oldest and still am with the youngest who is now 2 and a half. I got/get to spend a lot of time with both of them. I have a tight bond with both and love each for the same, yet different reasons.

    So I'm not so sure I'd get too upset just yet. Be mindful of the situation and if it begins to get out of hand and become a blatant show of favoritism then I'd speak with her.

  7. Oh I understand your pain, it tears a mothers heart to shreds... Our children have a grandparent who only acknowledges and gifts our first child - because in this day and age who would have more!!! And an uncle who won't acknowledge daughters - I can't even go there. Then we had a neighbor who loved, adored and was forever giving treats to just our second... As we had more kids so it became easier to understand that certain kids have good and special relationships with adults and not all kids in the family have that relationship. That's fine - they have their own friends. But when it comes to relatives it freaks me right out - sleep or no sleep... we decided not to tackle the adults - they just are too small minded to get it, so we have rather educated our kids as they are old enough to understand... I am sorry this happened I so understand, you love your kids totally and that really will be enough for them.

  8. Okay, my comment won't be nearly as long as the others ;) You need to talk to her about it right's probably not even a conscious decision on her part, but it's definitely something you want to nip in the bud!

  9. In some ways, I can agree that it's maybe not that big a deal, or may have even been a little unintentional. Sure, some familiy members will "click" a little better with one baby than the other-and it may very well vary at times.

    However, when it comes to gifts and things like that, I do NOT think it's okay to bring one child a gift and not the other. They may not know the difference right now, but soon enough, they will know.

    Just my opinion! We haven't had an issue with this in my family-and I hope we don't-but I think I would speak up sooner, rather than later. ; )

  10. Anonymous4:27 am

    Same thing here. My Motherinlaw spoiled the socks off of my darling son (her first and only grandson). Three years later, when my beautiful little girl was born (her first and only granddaughter), she refused to even hold her for over three months. Then, she told me that she had no intentions of buying her the same brands of clothing she bought for my son (all designer, snobby stuff anyway ~ and I'm a "less is more" gal, too, so that was a bit of good news).
    It bothered me immensely because of the evil inequality of it, but I was glad that she wasn't hyper-focusing on my sweet baby girl like she did with my boy. THAT was irritating to the point where I wanted to move far, far away so she would stop saying that he was her "soul-mate", etc. Yes, weird.

    How did we handle it? We just ignored her lame attempts and when she overbought for our son, we told her very frankly that he had way too much and if we couldn't take back all these gifts for him, then we would have fun donating it to those in need. The STuff slowed down a bit (we're talking 65pairs of socks and 37 pairs of JUST shorts. ANd that was just socks and shorts. Yes, she was and is ill).

    Now that my kids are nearly in their teens, she finally accepts them both and is treating them equally.

    Once Connor smiles at and hugs and talks to Grandma, she should chill out and even-up a bit. When she comes to see them and doesn't see the "whatsit" that she bought especially for "her Kendra", then smile and say, "Oh, she has too much stuff so we had to donate it." She'll quit it very quickly. Just don't let her think it upsets you too much, or it will become a game of control for her and you instead of just a temporary bend toward one twin over the other.

    Hope this helps, and good luck!

  11. I don't think that sleep depravation has anything to do with the fierceness of a mothers love. I grew up in a family where my sister was favored over me and she got pretty much everything . I was always told that there was no money to buy things for me. It's still that way, but I don't need their money now. It is hard growing up like that. I agree that you should nip it. Tell her to have special days for each child...and give them gifts separately. but deliberately excluding Connor is NOT ok.

  12. I think I'm in the minority here, but that is simply unacceptable, particularly if it becomes (or is) a pattern. It is precisely because the rest of the world will play favourites that your children should know that they're equally loved, no matter what, within their family. My sister got less (time, attention, stuff, praise, you name it) from our parents than me, and it has scarred us both to this day.

    If you can talk to your mother about this, do. Explain to her why you think it's important that your children be taught and shown that they are equal, particularly on family occasions like holidays. If she wants to get Kendra a little special something on one visit and Connor something on another, that's fine. As they grow, their different interests will become apparent, and it will be easier to find individual ways of honouring each child.

    If it's a gender thing for her, tell her that you want Connor to learn to honour and respect women, and for Kendra to learn that women don't need special treatment to "make up for" being a girl. (This is the general attitude in my extended family, so I'm probably projecting.)

    Now, around here, we get the girls individual gifts from time to time, but everything ends up getting shared anyway. Jessica got a guitar for Christmas, and Melody a toddler computer, but they don't have any particular sense of ownership, and are in fact happy to see sister enjoy their gift.

    Okay, now I'm just being incoherent. Off to bed I go.


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