As parents, we try with all our might to be egalitarian with our children, provide them with the same attention and affection, which they need at all times and not show preferences for one or the other. But what happens when grandparents prove to have a favorite among their grandchildren?
I am sure that many of you who are reading this article at one point or another will end up thinking about how was the relationship with your grandparents, and surely that arouses many emotions .
Grandparents are very important figures for children, and dealing with them, their behaviors, mark us, then, as children, and now, when we are parents.
Do grandparents really have a favorite? What science says
The quickest and most forceful answer is yes, in the same way that many parents have a favorite among their children. A study conducted at the University of California concluded that between 60 and 70% of parents showed preferences for one of their children.
With regard to grandparents, a study carried out jointly by the University of Helsinki and the University of Oxford, published in 2011, focused on studying this fact, as well as some of the factors that could be influencing the behavior of preference.
The study concluded that yes, grandparents show preferences among their grandchildren . However, it was seen that variables such as gender, despite being popularly an accepted idea, are not responsible, at least not in a significant proportion, for favoritism.
On the other hand, Arthur Kornhaber, a psychiatrist, points out that the first grandchild has a “privileged” position in the family, in the grandparents, since it is what makes them change their status, pass from parents to grandparents, and that only it does the first one, and it’s really powerful.
According to this author, the next grandchild who is of the opposite sex to the first will also have special treatment, as well as the one who has a similar character or common hobbies with grandparents, for example.
Family dynamics, values or traditions will also mark the relationships between one another.
What can we parents do?
1) Let’s calibrate the importance and relevance
The first thing is (unless it is a situation in which the well-being of the little ones is at stake, in which case I strongly recommend going to a professional) to take it easy .
It is true that it stings when we see that the relationship with each other is not the same, when we perceive that they do not treat our little one in the same way as the older cousin, but it may not be as tremendous as we think .
In addition, family relationships are not mathematics , love, and you know that you have more than one child, it is not divided, but rather it is shared … You can love your uncle Pepe infinite and your cousin infinite +1 Laura And everything is fine.
Establishing comparisons when it comes to family relationships – healthy relationships, I mean – does not make much sense because we are all different and therefore the bonds and attachments that we establish are also different.
Stop for a moment and reflect : you yourself had a favorite grandfather for sure, among your siblings you would surely prefer to be with some than with others, and nothing happens, right?
Changing the behavior of others is … well, let’s say complicated, but there are things we can do.
2) Do not express your discomfort in front of children, or charge against grandparents in their presence
Charging the inks against grandparents while your child is present can add discomfort, since for him they are figures of attachment to whom he loves. Watch out. We talk about adult things between adults , always.
If you notice that your little one feels bad, if he tells you something, if he lets you know, do, but do not get him into something about which perhaps he did not have the biggest problem until that moment.
Observe, take care, accompany … but do not apply the band-aid before having the wound.
Furthermore, if we directly involve children, if we ask them, if we interrogate them and question their grandparents and their affections, we are going to create a conflict of loyalties, of affections. They love their grandparents, why do my parents tell me that my grandparents prefer another?
3) Strengthening ties and neutralizing the less good
Let’s start from the premise that even though there is a favorite, that does not mean that, in general, they do not like others , so let’s try to strengthen those emotional ties that are undoubtedly there.
- Talk about the topic without turning it into “the talk” without monitor grandparents, without accusing, without being hostile. Most of the time, grandparents are not aware of this, so a good conversation about it can help bring about some change on their part. But I insist, calmly and without anger, that does not lead to anything.
- Reaching pacts with grandparents : preferences are often shown in the amount of time they spend with each other, in gifts, in hospitality … Let’s encourage them to see each other more, if not live, on Skype , is the good thing about living in the 21st century. If the gift is a problem, let’s agree with the grandparents in advance what to buy for the little ones, etc.
- Neutralize and empower : if you see that they have been ignoring one of the grandchildren for a long time, involve them together in a conversation or game. If what appears is a criticism of a grandchild, neutralize it.
The more time you spend together, the more things you do together, the better that time is, the deeper your relationship will be, the more bonds you will create and therefore more intimacy and affection.
Family relationships are not easy, not easy at all, but it is worth making an effort to make them work. The figure of the grandparents contributes a lot to the little ones, we are going to try to make it positive, together.
Of course, as I always say, if you feel that the situation is out of control and the little ones are having a hard time, if you do not know how to manage them, go to a professional for advice and you can face the situation with the best possible tools. It is important, especially for children, of course.
In Babies and more | Slave grandfather syndrome: grandparents overwhelmed by caring for their grandchildren