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TherapistMarryAnn
TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5797
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My husbands parents favor my brother-in-laws oldest child,

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My husband's parents favor my brother-in-laws oldest child, the first-born. My mother-in-law isn't very involved with any of the grandchildren but doesn't seem to show favorites. We live 12 hours away from them, but see them for two months in the summertime and at Christmastime. My husband's father took the grandson to the mall to buy him a gift the same day we were visiting and missed a party at my parents where he could have spent time with my kids. There have been several occasions where he went out and bought the grandsons gifts and didn't get my daughter anything. She is 4 now and it really bothers me. Should I say something? Shield my daughter from it? I have tried to send him pictures my daughter has drawn and keep the lines of communication open but my inlaws obviously can't measure up to what I know my daughter deserves.
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

It sounds like you have tried to get your father in law to recognize that he is not paying attention to your daughter in the same way he favors the boys in your family, but he is not paying attention. That could mean that you need to be more direct in the way you communicate what you are feeling. It could also be that your father in law was taught that boys are more important or preferable to girls so he does not see what he is doing is wrong. Or he could have some issue that he is not communicating to you. But whatever the reason, your daughter should not be treated any differently than the boys.

Since your mother in law does not appear to have the same issue, you may want to appeal to her first. Tell her about your concerns. Try to do it in a neutral way so she hears that you are concerned about your daughter and not that you are upset with her husband. That way, she will listen better.

You can also talk to your father in law directly. Let him know how you feel and that you are concerned that your daughter will start to notice the different type of treatment she gets and she will be hurt. Let him tell you why he acts as he does. It could be that he is just uncomfortable with taking your daughter along due to her age or feeling overwhelmed with too many kids. In that case, offer to go along with them until your daughter is old enough to care for herself better. That may help.

If your father in law still refuses to listen once you talk to him, you may need to start shielding your daughter. Talk to your mother in law about going out with you and your daughter and make it a "girls time out". That way, your daughter will feel she belongs. Or distract her in some way by playing with her or otherwise occupying her. This will be easier now since she is younger. Once she is older, you can talk to her about the behavior and that it is wrong. Try to help her see it as a learning opportunity on how to deal with people who treat her unfairly. She will meet many of them in her life so it's a good chance to model behavior for her. Then let her deal with her relationship with her grandfather. He may find that he loses her affection if he continues to treat her differently than the boys.

I hope this helped you,
Kate
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