How to handle relatives who play favourites.

There are things you can do to help this messy situation 

Recently it was reported that many parents have a favourite child and while they try not to make it obvious it can be noticeable to their children all the way through their lives. It isn’t just parents who are guilty of favouritism as other relatives can also take part! For parents it can be incredibly hard and hurtful if a relative overlooks their child in favour of another.  
No one means any harm by it and some people take to one kid better than to another, you should also take into account the amount of time your child actually spends with this relative over say the favoured kid that may spend all day with the relative in question with obviously that will build their bond more.
In any case there are things you can do to help this messy situation and hopefully it gives you some much needed reassurance...
  • Talk directly to the offending relative- This may not always be possible but if you can you should talk to the offending person. Of course be calm and don’t be dragged into an argument but state your facts and explain to the relative about how much it upsets you or your child. For some they may not have even noticed and honestly meant no harm by it but for it to stop a discussion between you both must happen.
  • Agree on gifts and cut off points within your extended family- If there are family members that go off and buy excessive gifts for some of the families kids but for others less, consider pulling the family together to discuss cut off points. These cut off points should be adhered to by everyone regardless of your personal relationship to the child and tell your family that it will help keep the rivalry within the kids to a minimum rather than arguing over who gets more of Aunt Sal!
  • Talk to your child if he/she notices the problem- In an ideal world your child won’t have noticed and it is only you that recognises the problem. However, as this isn’t always the case you should have a frank chat with your kiddie if he or she brings it up. Remind your kid that it isn’t done out of meanness or cruelty but that if it is upsetting them so much you will have a word with the relative in question. Tell your kiddie that no matter what you adore them and will always be there for them so they must never fret as you have their back!
  • Accept that you can’t always control favouritism- Even though you might have a chat to your relative and have explained it all to your kiddie it still might not change very much about the situation. You probably need to accept that you can’t control it but you can be there for your child if he is aware of the problem. Maybe it means your kiddie won’t be as close to their Nana as some of the other kids but does it really matter? As long as your kiddie is loved by you all it shouldn’t hinder your child one bit, and if Nana is too busy with the others maybe your child can become close to someone else in the family. That is sometimes the way it goes in life sadly as we build bonds greater to some people than others, can you honestly say you don’t have a favourite Auntie or Uncle? No I think not!
Have you any experience of such a situation?
Written by Emma, staff writer with and Irish mummy blogger. Check out her own blog at

Emma Hayes

Emma Hayes is a busy mum to two girls aged 17 and 11 and is married to her childhood sweetheart.

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