Saturday, May 18, 2024

Doctor Love: Second-Best


Readers, email your question to [email protected]. Your letters are edited solely for grammar, spelling, and length.

Dear Doctor Love,
My sister has always been my mother’s favorite. I learned to accept it and move on. But I have noticed the same pattern happening with our children.
We both have daughters around the same age, and it is obvious that our mother favors one grand-daughter over the other.
My mother will go to the city to get my sister’s daughter the exact item she wants while my daughter gets something like what she wants with little effort made to try to get her the exact thing, even when it is available.
If both girls draw a picture, my mother makes a big fuss over my sister’s child’s drawing but has little in the way of encouragement for my daughter.
Last week my daughter asked me why nanny doesn’t love her. She said she has noticed the difference in the treatment she gets and she has already begun to resent her grandmother.
My mother asked for a small list of items my daughter wants for Christmas. I pointed out that one of these gifts is very important to my daughter and that her favorite color is pink. My mother’s answer was that she would see what she could do. I am worried that she will only make a half-hearted effort to make sure it is the right one. Should I tell her I’ll get this gift myself, so my little girl gets exactly what she asked for? Even more important, should I talk to her about favoring one child over the other and the hurt it is causing?

Dear Second-Best,
Yes, take that special gift off the list and get it yourself. Then sit down with your little girl and explain to her that her grandmother loves her very much, but some grandmothers aren’t very good at sharing that love equally between all their grandchildren.
There is little chance of success in talking to your mother about this; it is doubtful she will see it or acknowledge it. You could push your daughter’s drawing forward when it receives a lack-luster response from your mother, but again, it probably will not achieve the result you desire.
Unfortunately, there is no childhood without hurt, and it is up to you to limit the amount of hurt your child will receive from her grandmother. There will likely come a time when your daughter no longer wants to visit her grandmother, and you should allow her to make that decision for herself when the time comes.
Give her all the love and support that you can—you turned out well and so will your daughter.

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