Is it wrong to play favourites with your grandchildren? Or to have a grandchild you prefer, even if you do try not to play favourites?
Do you have a grandson or a granddaughter that you always go the extra mile for? Do you let them get away with more than they should and do you spoil them a little too much? Or are you conscious of trying to be fair, because you know you’d otherwise perhaps be a little more lenient or generous with one than you would with the other?
While most grandparents would probably suggest that they love all their grandbabies equally, studies suggest that the opposite might actually be the truth.
A recent report by the Daily Mail found that 74 per cent of mothers admitted to liking one of their children more than the others. The results were similar for fathers, with 70 per cent confessing the same.
If parents can be picky about their own children, who’s to say that the same isn’t happening with grandchildren?
The study found that while parents wouldn’t openly admit which child was their favourite, their kids could sense who their mother and father preferred.
Their results also found that parents tended to favour their first born.
While this particular study focused on parents and children, there is plenty of evidence on the internet to suggest that some grandparents are quite open about favouring a particular grandchild.
For example, on website babycenter.com, a frustrated mother asked how she was meant to deal with the issue.
“My in-laws appear to favour my sister-in-law’s son over our daughter. It seems to be an issue that everyone else in the family notices except them,” the mother explained.
Others in similar situations shared their stories, concerned that their parents were causing harm not only to their relationship with their adult children, but to their grandchildren. One father wrote that he had brought up the issue with his mother (whom he said bought gifts for his siblings’ children but not his own).
“My mothers response is ‘I don’t know why I do what I do, but it is my money to do as I please’, and she is right, I can’t argue with that,” the dad said.
So what makes someone favour one particular grandchild over another? Because each scenario is different, there’s no one definitive answer, but Psychology Today suggests that parents tend to feel closer to children of the same gender and that in mixed families, biological children tend to get more attention.
In other cultures, families favour boys by default, while others are more drawn to the first-born. Distance also plays a role, with some people simply unable to provide other children with the same attention because they’re too far away.
They also add that while giving one child more attention may seem harmless, it could actually lead to the left-out child feeling aggressive, depressed and suffering lower self-esteem.