What should a Parent do when a Grandparent Plays Favorites

What should a parent do when a grandparent plays favorites raises even more questions: how much spontaneity is necessary for the healthy emotional growth of children? Do we want to create a perfect world for our children in which everything is fair and love and emotions are given in the right amount in the right way, even if it is obviously staged and artificial?

Granted it is very hurtful to the child or children who are not the favorites. But in life, if we eliminate winners and lowers, we take away the thrill of life.

Also, the child who is the favorite of grandma or grandpa might not be so popular in school, while the other children could be. Those that are not favorites may also be shining in other areas as well. Remember, but don’t ever let them know it, grandparents are only one aspect of a child’s life.

I had a friend who came to visit our family when my children were young. She brought my son a computerized toy with buttons and cards, at that time it was something special, and she brought my daughter a small plastic 10 cent car. She didn’t have to bring anything at all; in fact, I wish she hadn’t, because I did not know how to ease my daughter’s hurt and I did not know how to explain it to her. It is not just hurt the unfavored are feeling, but they suspect that something is wrong with them.

But as with all of life, it is very hard to protect your children against slights. What you can do is love them so strongly and build them up so much that slights will be seen by them for what they are, slights, and that is all. You can help your child by developing their interests and keeping them so busy, that those kind of slights will only scratch the surface. Making your children aware of their strong points and their weak points helps them to know themselves and will insulate them further against too little attention or too much undeserved attention, because it will make strong, happy individuals who are not overly phased by compliments or insults.

The truth is, if grandparents show favoritism, they will probably not be invited over very much, and there will probably not be very many visits to their home. Grandchildren look to grandparents for affection outside of their everyday routine, and although grandparents can help parents out by babysitting or carpooling, the role of the grandparent is really not as important as the role of the parents (Don’t ever make the mistake of telling them that). Initially, except under special circumstances, parents are the bread and butter of child-raising, even the government holds them responsible.

So out of respect for those children who are not the favorites, don’t say a word to the grandparents. No child needs forced love. Your child or children will have so many opportunities to excel and receive attention for whatever it is about them that makes them special. If you don’t make a big deal about it, they won’t either. Besides, it is character building learning to tolerate situations where we are not always the center.