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Sibling rivalry

(23 Posts)
morethan2 Sat 16-Jan-16 12:53:09

I received a really awful hurtful message from my d.i.l on Christmas Day saying it was obvious I loved my other sons children more than hers. She said her and my son had often talked about it and he agreed. The thing is I've often worried that one of my other children might feel like this, but not them. They've had the very very best of me. When I thought about it ( after I'd stopped sobbing) sad There's been more money lent and never given back to them, more time spent with their children. They've caused us more silent heartbreak than the others. They don't live locally now but did when their children were younger. We are never invited for Christmas but saw loads of photos on Facebook of her and her family. (I had to adjust my settings so I don't see them then it doesn't hurt) I've had other upsetting e-mail from her generally letting off steam about my son. I've never responded to them . This one felt like a personal attack and I was very upset. I saw my son after Christmas for a few hours and I've given him a rocket. I feel he still doesn't 'get it' and is more concerned that I shared my distress with my family and how that reflects on him and his wife. I don't want advice it'll be sorted one way or other but I just wondered if any of you have a child who feels like this. No matter how much you give they want more and more. I'm worn out with the pair of them if I'm honest. ?

gillybob Sat 16-Jan-16 14:02:18

That's awful for you morethan2. Sometimes the more you give, the more they expect. My DS and DDiL have 3 children. I spend far more time with them than I do my DD who lives alone and has no children. Sometimes I feel terribly guilty but my DS and his family take up so much of my time and energy. My DD (bless her heart) very rarely asks for anything (time/money/help) and as a consequence very rarely gets it. I think it has always been the case that those who shout loudest get heard and the quiet ones who just get on with things get neglected. I would hate to think my DD was simmering away with resentment. Jealous of the time I give to her brother and his family.

LullyDully Sat 16-Jan-16 14:02:47

How rude and hurtful. Just as MILs need to bite their tongues so do dils!! Not her business to criticise you. My thoughts go out to you, take care and the problem could be hers rather than yours. She is obviously fed up with a part of her

NanaandGrampy Sat 16-Jan-16 14:12:00

I have 2 DD both with 2 DGC . I try very hard to be totally even handed with the 4 little ones. My 2 DDs have both needed help in different ways and DH and myself have consistently stepped up to the plate. But from a couple of small digs I know DD1 and her DH think I favour DD2s children.

I do see them more often as they are not school age and DD1s children not only have school but after school activities too. When her children were pre school age I was working full time so couldn't babysit them as often as I might have liked.

I refuse to be bullied by my DDs though, I know I don't favour one over the other and they'll just have to lump it ! I'm lucky to have pretty good relationships with them but this is one can of worms I don't want to open.

Smileless2012 Sat 16-Jan-16 14:18:38

We have 2 sons but sadly are estranged from our youngest and have been for more that 3.5 years now. Before this happened they both continued to make the light hearted remarks they'd made as children, about who was 'no. 1 son', each saying that the other held the position, each calling the other 'special' or 'precious' son.

I'm sure you're right morethan2 and this will get sorted out; I certainly hope so. I never took our son's rivalry for the top spot seriously but I can see why things have taken a more serious turn due to your d.i.l's message.

Do you not think it strange that this has come from her, and not from your son or from them as a couple? From what you've said of your son's response ie that he's more concerned about what family members will think of him and his wife because you've shared this, does that not come across that this is more her 'issue' than his?

Sadly, many parents feel that regardless of how much they do and give, it will never be enough. There are so many posts about 'walking on egg shells' with C and or s./d.i.l. for fear of being cut out when all any of us want is an honest and loving relationship.

We treated both our boys the same as I'm sure you've done. One loves us dearly and is thankful for the childhood he had and for the relationship we continue to share, and as for his brother well, it would seem that we did for him wasn't merely 'not enough' it fell far short of acceptable parenting.

Luckygirl Sat 16-Jan-16 14:54:53

Have you replied to this message? - try something positive along the lines of asking for more detail ans asking in what way she feels this might be redressed - what might make her happy.

Wendysue Sat 16-Jan-16 21:13:44

So sorry about this, morethan2. Of my 2 DDs, one of them, occasionally, has accused me of favoring the other and her kids (sigh). I've found it helpful to assure her this isn't true and remind her (in a pleasant way) of all the ways I've been there for her and so forth. Sometimes, I think, she just loses sight of that cuz, you know, "the grass is always greener" and such. I know you're not looking for advice and my solution might not work for you, anyway. (Come to think of it, Luckygirl's advice sounds better to me.) Fortunately, for me, this hasn't happened in a few years. But my point was that, yes, there often is one sibling or sibling-in-law who feels that others are being favored. It's not unusual and probably in no way your fault. I hope this all does get sorted out, as you say.

Humbertbear Sun 17-Jan-16 09:37:45

I'm sorry but I think your DiL should have kept quiet, just as MiLs often have to do. You have been doing your best for all your family. Your DiL is obviously going through a difficult time and taking it out on you.

There is always sibling rivalry in a family of one kind or another but most of us behave as adults and get on with our lives. Families work because people don't always say what they think I'm afraid.

I hope you are getting lots of love and attention from your other children.

Teetime Sun 17-Jan-16 10:11:53

Oh dear morethan had she been drinking? What a terribly rude and destructive thing to do and on Christmas Day. I don't know what you can do about it without making it worse. I think I might put a distance between her and you for a while and certainly close your purse to them. MY MIL definitely favoured my BIL and his family over my DH (her youngest son) babysitting for them, dressmaking, curtain making, cooking, cleaning and ironing etc. I don't think she made me more than 2 cups of tea in the 30 odd years that I knew her but I just had to grin and bear it- sometimes DH got an earful but as he always agreed with me that was soothing. |I hope things pick up for you. flowers

Wendysue Mon 18-Jan-16 01:45:46

"I'm sorry but I think your DiL should have kept quiet, just as MiLs often have to do."

Humbertbear's reply caught my attention. It's true, so often we MILs are advised not to compare and not to say anything if we feel the other GPs are being favored and so forth.

And if your DIL were here morethan2, I might tell her the same. But she isn't - you are. And so, I still think a good idea is to ask simply, "How do you feel we're favoring the others?" or "Can you give me a few examples?" Then maybe let us know what she says and maybe we can help you figure out what to say (or not say). Up to you, of course.

cornergran Mon 18-Jan-16 08:20:31

It's beginning to rumble gently in our family. Memories seem short. My current tactic is to be totally open about what we care doing and why and not respond to half comments. So far so good and nothing as hurtful as you describe morethan, I wonder what else may be going on in their relationship and family unit? My guess is this isn't about you at all. Hope you can feel less upset soon.

Teacher11 Mon 18-Jan-16 10:14:37

I feel very sympathetic. I don't have this sort of hurtful relationship with my children, thank goodness. They do have a strong sibling rivalry but I have made it clear they are 'different but equal' as I strongly disapprove of the favouritism which made up a big element of my own mother's family relationships. However, I do have a very similar, negative relationship with my younger sister who is very jealous of me and treats me really badly. Some people are just horrible and, of course, they hold all the cards as a DIL could keep a son away from his mother and she also controls access to the beloved grandchildren. I don't know what the answer is.

grannyjack Mon 18-Jan-16 10:46:59

I don't think you should enter into any discussion about this with your DiL. You have given feedback to your son & doubt he has told his wife how upset you were. Let time go by & try & engage with them as if nothing has happened. I rather suspect that the nastiness on Xmas Day was an over reaction caused by something else, or someone else, entirely & escalated out of control. (Maybe fuelled by her parents?)
If it comes up again try not to let it upset you & point out that you have tried to be supportive by lending them money & that you love seeing them & the children.

cc Mon 18-Jan-16 11:39:19

My oldest son (second of four children) is full of resentment because he feels that others get more than him. At the back of my mind is the (illogical) fear that he may be right. We've paid for his education up to MSc level, but at 36 he's never had a full-time, permanent job. I've often had to bail him out when he ran out of money, actually sending him an online shop last week as he said he had little food. Two of the others have reasonably good jobs and I've only ever had to help them out when they were between jobs or had unforeseen expenses. He was unwell last January (severe depression and psychosis) and lived at home with us for more than six months.
I have to confess that I don't always go to see him when I go to the city to visit the others, he has such a lowering effect on me.
I'd love to be able to ignore or refuse his requests for help but cannot bring myself to do this.

sillup Mon 18-Jan-16 11:40:20

It appears to me that the problem lies with your DIL and for whatever reason she has used you as the target for whatever is bugging her. No consolation at all, but her children will one day grow up and possibly have children of their own. I hope for her sake that they treat her with more love and respect than she has shown to you. It will of course sort itself out but in the meantime continue to be the loving mother/grandma you clearly are and rise above her nastiness. I totally agree with Teacher 11s comment 'different but equal'. Sending you positive vibes.

Wendysue Mon 18-Jan-16 12:54:08

Oh wow, grannyjack may be right! Somehow I didn't notice that you had spoken to your son. It probably wouldn't help right now to engage with DIL, too.

I'm a little concerned with how your son took your comments. Is it true that you discussed this with other family members as he seems to feel? Unfortunately, that may have obscured the main issue - that of DIL's complaining to you about favoritism and such.

But you seem to have faith that this will all get sorted out, so I trust that it will, Good luck and please let us know what happens!

Freeflyer Mon 18-Jan-16 14:00:17

Oh dear, Morethan2, I really do feel for you as I have two sons and one daughter, and all are married with children. Occasionally, one of them will say to me that they think that my husband and I love the others more than we do them or their family. I am constantly aware that one set of family will need our help more than another and that's when we do help them, whether it's financially or otherwise. It is virtually impossible to treat each family member the same, although we do certainly try to spend the same on each grandchildren when it comes to Christmas and birthdays. We try to turn any concerns by either of our children or their spouses into a joke, saying that we love them all equally and will, of course, help out whenever one or other needs it.

It's funny about money too - I was actually feeling hurt for a while because my own mother recently gave me a birthday present that had taken no thought and wasn't particularly expensive. Yet my older brother was given a present for his birthday that cost double - and my other brother will get the same when his birthday arrives. But I am grown up enough to realize that, while she might treat us differently she still sees us equally but sees us as equally her children.

yummygran1 Mon 18-Jan-16 14:07:34

You're not alone in having DiLs who cause trouble Wendysue. I've had on-going problems with one of mine for four years now.

She is very jealous of my other son and his family, and it has created a rift between my two sons as a result. I was beginning to think it might be calming down a little, though they don't see each, but last weekend it started up again, all because I went away with my elder son and his wife and her family for a weekend to celebrate a family member's birthday. My younger son then blamed me for going away to celebrate my birthday (which was a few days before) and not inviting his family. He wouldn't listen to reason and told me he was fed up with us all. I know it's his wife who is at the back of it all. She then sent me a card asking if I'd had a good time and perhaps they could come along in future!! It wasn't my celebration to invite anyone to!

I do an awful lot for them in particular as they work weekends, I have the girls for them and help them out financially etc. If anything I would think my elder son would be upset as I do less for them as they don't need so much help, but I am always there for them too if they need me.
Like Smileless there has always been brotherly rivalry between them as they grew up, each saying the other was favourite.

I hope it does blow over in time Wendysue, I completely understand how you feel. I can't sleep at night for worrying about my two. I naïvely thought that when I had two little boys they would grow up being best friends too. Something I missed out of as an only child!

Dynasty Mon 18-Jan-16 15:25:54

Oh Morethan you have my sympathy. Adult children can regress and behave like toddlers sometimes! This sounds like a full blown temper tantrum and needs treating as such. It is your Dils problem and not yours. When our children were small my husband and his family privately made a joke about Mils preference for one set of grandchildren or another by describing it like the football league : "oh we're in division five this year and you have made the first division" We all recognised that there was equal love but shown on different occasions. Life is never "fair" but over time it all works out even. I am sending you love and (flowers)

LuckyFour Mon 18-Jan-16 16:49:28

Morethan - I don't think I would ask her what she means or why she feels this way. I think you could reply just saying how much you love all your children equally and would never favour one of your children above the other. Keep it simple, don't go into detail. Be very gentle and kind with the words you use. this may disarm her perhaps.

Midwifecf Mon 18-Jan-16 19:46:20

This is the aspect of parenting that I have found most difficult
Sibling rivalry in adulthood
All our children are happy and successful, they all have children who we see as much as we can
But there is always an underlying You love them best scenario going on
I find it very trying
I don't have favourites, I don't treat them all the same because each has different needs but I often feel I never get it right!

Wendysue Tue 19-Jan-16 07:14:15

Yummygran1, I think you have me confused with morethan2, who is the OP of this thread. I did say that one of my DDs has occasionally voiced concern that I'm favoring the other one, but morethan2 is the poster w/ the difficult DIL. Thank you for your kind words, anyhow.

I'm sorry to hear about how your younger son and DIL reacted to your recent vacation. I hope you pointed out that you weren't the host and it wasn't your place to invite any additional guests. Unfortunately, it seems as if this may be just another episode in an ongoing history of rivalry between your two sons though, I realize, you seem to think this one is due to YDIL (younger DIL). Either way, I'm sorry you got caught in the middle of it - and through no fault of your own!

Dynasty, if only all adult siblings and their spouses could look at things the way you and yours do!

Midwifecf, I think you've expressed something many older parents often/sometimes feel. But in most cases, IMO, it's not our fault. It's our adults sons/daughters (and sometimes their spouses) who often are the ones getting it wrong. They need to realize the difference between responding to a need and favoritism. And, in many cases, to be glad if they're the one who is less needy (for financial help or otherwise). Sure, there are some parents who really do favor one child above the others. But no one, IMO, should just paint all parents w/ that same brush.

Luckylegs9 Tue 19-Jan-16 17:19:46

None of us should be going through this, life is so short and it's plain daft treating family as if they didn't exist. Today I just feel it's too much somehow. Sorry.