DEAR ABBY: I am the mother of three wonderful children. My oldest boy (who is from a previous marriage) is 11. My two younger ones are 2 (a girl) and 7 months old (a boy). My mother-in-law, “Nancy,” is the grandma of my two younger ones. She is good to all of my children, except for one thing.
Nancy had two daughters and a son, and she has mentioned that she preferred her girls over her boy. Other family members have also mentioned how she plays favorites. She had a favorite child and grandchild before my kids were born. I believe my daughter has now become Nancy’s new favorite. She has said it repeatedly, and other people have referred to my daughter as “the new favorite.”
Nancy used to bring little toys and clothes over for her all the time, but stopped when I told her she needs to bring gifts for all my children if she’s going to continue to bring things. She still buys things for my daughter, but leaves them at her house so when I take the children over there, it’s filled with little girl clothes and toys.
Nancy has been in my life for more than two years now, so that’s two years of birthdays and holidays with her. I am noticing that she buys my daughter double what she gets for my other children — double the items and twice the money she’s spending. I have considered buying extra things for the boys to make up the difference, but I don’t want my daughter to think I am favoring them. Luckily, they aren’t old enough yet to really notice this.
Is this something I should address or let go? I have had to address things in the past with Nancy when it comes to the children, and she doesn’t take it well. I’m worried that if I do, it will cause problems. — EQUAL LOVING MOM
DEAR MOM: Your thinking is correct. It WILL eventually cause problems — unless another child is born who becomes her next “favorite.” Talk with your husband about this. If you do, perhaps he will talk to his mother and get her to change her ways. If, however, it doesn’t help, you will have to lay down the law. Repeat what you have already told her and make clear that the children will not be visiting her if they are not treated equally.
DEAR ABBY: My niece met a guy. Two months later they got engaged. A week after that, she married him. Now, a year later, she wants to have a wedding. Is this proper? Does she just want a big show and gifts? People are laughing about it, and it is not what I was raised to do. Am I wrong in thinking this is an embarrassment to our family? — PROPER LADY IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR PROPER LADY: This is not an embarrassment to your family. It is an embarrassment to your niece. The ship has sailed as far as her fantasy about a “big show and gifts” is concerned. If she wishes to throw a party to celebrate her first anniversary (once the rules about gatherings and social distancing have eased), she should go ahead and do it. But I doubt she will receive anything in addition to warm congratulations.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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