Talking to my own grandmother today made me realise, that even in her 90s, she still has her favourites. As my last remaining grandparent, she of course is my favourite, but the same can’t be said for me! Ever since I was a child, I remember my cousins getting presents and attention from Grandma, but never my brother and I. She would visit them on occasions outside of Christmas and Easter and I’d often wonder why.
Well, studies have now shown that grandparents do in fact have favourite grandkids, and they’re lying to ourselves if they say they don’t.
According to psychologist Professor Peter Smith, of London’s Goldsmiths University, while grandparents generally say they are equally close to all grandchildren, research shows they are, in fact, closer to their daughters’ children than their sons.
But why? “The first is that mothers tend to be closer to their daughters and the second is that of paternity,” he told the Huffington Post.
“Certainly they can be sure that their daughters’ children are theirs, but they can’t be quite so sure with their sons’ children. They may not be consciously aware that this is an issue but it factors in research studies”.
The study in question was research conducted around how genes are passed down and how that correlates to how close we are with our grandchildren.
A woman passes around 31 per cent of her genes to her son’s daughters but just 23 per cent to her son’s sons – suggesting a protective effect for the grandchildren they are most closely related to.
Dr Urban Friburg, of the University of California, and colleagues, said grandparents can “differentially care” for grandchildren based on both their gender and their lineage, reports the Telegraph.
And in a Body and Soul article, US journalist Jeffrey Kluger said, “95 per cent of parents in the world have a favourite child – and the other five per cent are lying through their teeth”. He adds that everyone should stop feeling guilty about this because apparently we are all hard-wired to have a favourite.
It is a debate that has been longstanding in society and a quick Google search shows many mums searching the internet for answers to questions like, “Does anyone else have grandparents who have favourite grandchildren?” and are followed up with pages and pages of comments and discussions about situations deemed as favouritism.
Whether it is right or wrong to have favourites among grandchildren seems rather black and white, but whether it is right to play favourites is another thing. Grandparents.com suggests that grandparents should ask their children if they are playing favourites by asking point blank “Am I playing favourites?”, and take on board their feedback carefully.
But what if they tell you that you are? Would you modify your behaviour? How important is a balanced relationship with your family to you?
So today, we want to open this for discussion. Do you feel closer to one or more of your grandchildren? And if so, do you keep it to yourself?