My sister thinks I favor one kid and it's causing some trouble - WWYYD? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 26 Old 11-18-2011, 05:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have two girls, ages 2 and 9. Just because of their ages, they have different needs. The younger one needs more physical attention, and the older one has more needs as far as material things and lessons, etc., go.

 

My sister told me she thinks I favor my 9-year-old and that it's unfair to the 2-year-old. I don't favor either kid and I asked her why she thinks that, and she said it's because the older one takes lessons that are expensive and gets more money spent on her. She's 9! She just has greater expenses. I can't help that everything she does costs money, and it would be ridiculous to throw money around due to some ridiculous idea that I have to spend as much on each. The 2-year-old doesn't show any signs of feeling slighted, and doesn't understand finances yet obviously. She gets all of my time and attention while the older one is in school and is very happy and cheerful. She has everything she needs.

 

So the problem is that my sister has started showering the 2-year-old with gifts in an attempt to make up for this, and she does it in front of the 9-year-old, and the 9-year-old feels bad.


My kids have not had any real rivalry, I assume because of the age difference, but I feel like my sister is creating some rivalry and now the older one gets jealous.

 

I have told my sister to stop buying stuff for the 2-year-old, and she says that I told her that because I like the older one better and I'm a bad mom and unfair to the little one, etc. I told her that I'm going to have to limit her access to the kids if she keeps creating this competition thing between them.  I don't want to have to take things that far over something that doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but she's creating problems and I feel like she's being very disrespectful of me.

 

Am I making a bigger deal out of this than I should? Is there a better way to communicate to her what the problem is? What would you do?

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#2 of 26 Old 11-18-2011, 06:14 AM
 
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Is she your younger sister?

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#3 of 26 Old 11-18-2011, 06:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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You would think that, wouldn't you? But she's an older sister. She doesn't have any kids and treats my kids kind of like hers, so she's very involved with them, and I do (other than this issue) appreciate her involvement with my kids.

 

edited to add that actually I do have another few issues that could become threads of their own some day LOL. But this is the one that's bugging me now. I guess the overall theme behind everything is that she feels like another parent to my kids and tries to override my parenting choices, or more precisely to "fix" my parenting.

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#4 of 26 Old 11-18-2011, 06:19 AM
 
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No, you are most certainly not overreacting; my sister would be banned from my house for life if she did something like this. My kids both think that Auntie hung the moon, my daughter would be heartbroken if she was suddenly left out in the cold in favor of her little brother. As far as the older child needing different things than the younger child, well of COURSE she does!! My daughter is just five, but she started kindergarten this year and there are things that we have to spend money and extra time on for her that we don't have to do for her brother, simply because he's still at home with me. My daughter has Spanish and yoga through her school; I'm not putting my three year-old in Spanish and yoga just so that I can feel like I am doing the same amount for him as I do for his sister. He neither knows nor cares that she gets to do things at school that he doesn't get to do at home, he's just thrilled that he doesn't have to share toys during the day while she's gone.:-) 

You need to sit down and have a serious talk wit your sister about how it hurts the older child when she so openly favors the younger. If she continues to favor the little one, then I think you need to follow through on your threat to limit her time with them. Your daughters don't need that kind of a toxic influence on their relationship, they're too young to be learning that kind of behavior from someone who is supposed to love them equally.


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#5 of 26 Old 11-18-2011, 06:20 AM
 
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Well that blows my theory!    I would really try to talk to her about it though.  Their needs are drastically different right now (mine are 11 and 6 so I get it!) and fair isn't about everyone being treated the same, it's about everyone getting what they need.  They don't need the same things, one needs time, patience, inspiration and the other needs rides to classes and sports and help with homework!

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#6 of 26 Old 11-18-2011, 06:38 AM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by mamazee View Post

 

 I told her that I'm going to have to limit her access to the kids if she keeps creating this competition thing between them.  I don't want to have to take things that far over something that doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but she's creating problems and I feel like she's being very disrespectful of me.

 


 

I think you are doing the right things, and would sit her down and explain it again -- looking her in the eyes, and having the "my kids, my rules" talk.

 

Kids do get more expensive as they older, I don't see a way around that. You weren't doing all these things for your older DD when she was 2, and chances are you will spend even more money on your baby when she is 9 (in every family we know with wide spacing, the younger child ended up getting to do more at every age because they family had higher income).

 

When talking to your sister, I would focus on how they kids feel -- how happy, how they feel about each other, etc. and make it clear that you will not allow her to do anything that makes either one sad or resentful.

 

Then I would follow through. Your sister may need a break from your kids to get the message.

 

(I had to have a talk with my mother who used to shower my older DD with gifts, but give almost nothing to my younger DD -- her view was the older DD already had everything that was age appropriate for younger DD, so younger DD didn't need new things. It was an uncomfortable conversation)


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#7 of 26 Old 11-18-2011, 11:11 AM
 
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This situation would have me so upset. She is way out of line and everything that was said above goes for me, too. You are well within your right to restrict access...this is RIDICULOUS. I hope some day she is able to see how completely wacky her behavior is.

 

The only reason it makes sense - and is remotely forgivable -  that she is disrespecting you so and doesn't understand the difference between parenting a 9 year old and parenting a 2 year old is that she is, herself, childless. UGh.....I'm SO sorry you are dealing with this. How terribly frustrating.


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#8 of 26 Old 11-18-2011, 11:41 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AverysMomma View Post

The only reason it makes sense - and is remotely forgivable -  that she is disrespecting you so and doesn't understand the difference between parenting a 9 year old and parenting a 2 year old is that she is, herself, childless. UGh.....I'm SO sorry you are dealing with this. How terribly frustrating.



Exactly.  OP, she's your older sister.  It would be odd if your childless younger sister was trying to put you in your place and muscle in between you and your kids.  Coming from an older sister it makes a little more sense. 

 

I'm just curious, may I ask how old you are and your age difference with your sister?  

 

Most definitely, it's time to be firm with her and put a stop to this.  Not only for your kids' sake but because it's time to change this dynamic between you two. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#9 of 26 Old 11-18-2011, 02:48 PM
 
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Originally Posted by journeymom View Post



Exactly.  OP, she's your older sister.  It would be odd if your childless younger sister was trying to put you in your place and muscle in between you and your kids.  Coming from an older sister it makes a little more sense. 

 

I'm just curious, may I ask how old you are and your age difference with your sister?  

 

Most definitely, it's time to be firm with her and put a stop to this.  Not only for your kids' sake but because it's time to change this dynamic between you two. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Exactly. As the eldest of four children..and being a bit of a preachy blowhard by nature...I can attest to the fact that it can be nearly impossible at times not to stick your nose into the lives of your younger siblings and telling them what to do. It's a leftover from childhood that just tends to creep up in your from time to time. The urge must be fought and channeled into actually helpful and relationship sustaining ways or it just turns toxic.

 

But the ways in which I find myself wanting to direct my younger siblings are so far away from this...I'm starting not to feel so bad about them anymore!! My sticking my nose in comes from a desire to see them avoid missteps and wrong choices that I have made in the past....and I can honestly say that I've NEVER been even close to overstepping bounds in this kind of way. I struggle more with stuff like, trying to make my brother understand why he can't just quit a job with no notice...or how to make my sister understand why she has to TRY with her new in-laws, even though she hates them. Stuff like that.

 

No big sister should be in your life in this fashion...it's just way way overstepping bounadries. This is "bossy older sister" on freakin' steroids. If she is overstepping bounds in this way with your kids, I can't imagine the other ways in which this dynamic is manifesting in your life as her sister. She needs to quit...and I think helping her see that is really gonna be on you. It sounds to me like she can't stop herself.


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#10 of 26 Old 11-18-2011, 02:59 PM
 
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Yuck, I hope I'm not like that when my little sister finally gives me some nieces and nephews! 

 

You're not wrong though, she's overstepping.

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#11 of 26 Old 11-18-2011, 03:16 PM
 
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She actually said you're a bad mom?

Wow


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#12 of 26 Old 11-18-2011, 03:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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She is four years older than I am, and yes it manifests in other ways as well. Often about my kids, or maybe that's just where it makes me most upset.

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#13 of 26 Old 11-18-2011, 04:31 PM
 
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I suggest having her read some parts of Siblings Without Rivalry. Hopefully she will see what she is doing is wrong. When you bring it to her, let her know that if she continues to drive a wedge between your kids, she will not be allowed to see them. Also assure her that when your little one is old enough, she will have activities and more needs, and your older one will be old enough to earn money and be more responsible for her own expenses, while your little one will be getting more financially. It all evens out and the important thing is to meet each child's needs and for them to know that they are loved and well cared for.

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#14 of 26 Old 11-18-2011, 04:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mamazee View Post

She is four years older than I am, and yes it manifests in other ways as well. Often about my kids, or maybe that's just where it makes me most upset.



Yeah, your kids are going to get you the most upset...but I'd be willing to bet, that if you really took a while to think about the nature of your interactions with her, you would notice that it creeps into pretty much every facet of your life that she has anything to do with.

 

If you can fix this with her, I bet you will feel 1000% better about all the ways in which she is a part of your life. If she SAID the things to you that you mentioned above, I can only IMAGINE what she must be THINKING. Her brain is all wacky on this one...she needs to see the error in her ways and make a shift in the way she thinks about you. I'd be willing to bet anything that she loves you like CRAZY and desires closeness with you...she has just not let go of a very old way of being, a way that only ever really works when you are kids....as you grow, things are supposed to level out and the relationship is more peer like.

 

There is a huge difference between a six year old and a ten year old....and a 14 and 18 year old.....when you're kids, that kind of age gap means one sister has a completely different perspective and is in a place, developmentally, where it is natural for the younger to look up at the elder all starry eyed and the older sees herself as responsible for bossing, educating and looking after the younger.

 

The desire to look after a kid sibling never fades...but being bossy and trying to force your ideas and "Educate" past the time when your kid sister is actually a "kid", is really toxic. When you reach the point where you're talking 34 and 38....life experience and "developmental milestones" are sort of on par, depending somewhat on the ACTUAL life experience of the siblings in question. But even there, she's out of line....because not only are you very close in age at this point, you actually have MORE life experience in the area she is most brutal about.

 

So, you are two women, very close in age...but one woman never let go of the feeling of being twelve....with an ever faithful side-kick of a kid sister trailing behind her, waiting to hear some wisdom from her cooler, older sisters wild and so much more expanded brain.

 

In her defense, I can recall the exact moment that I realized that my kid siblings were no longer trailing behind me. It happened in a flash....and I sort of shook my head and looked really hard at this person in front of me and realized she was a woman. She wasn't a kid anymore. She's only 17 months behind me, but with our personality types that used mean so much. I love my younger siblings more than anything and any time something is going wrong for them, it's crazy how, in an instant I'm right back on the playground after school, ten years old and swingin' at some punk little kid who was throwing snowballs at my kid brothers face. If you are really close, you never lose that instinct, to shelter and look after this person, to try and mold things around them to make everything okay for them......but past a certain point, if you keep seeing them as this poor little wiry kid who can't look after themselves, you miss out on the true joy of being siblings...growing older together out in the wild world and learning just as much from them, as you ever hoped they learned from you.


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#15 of 26 Old 11-18-2011, 06:08 PM
 
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I think you should send her an  e-mail explaining what you pointed out in your op and also telling her that your older child doesn't understand that the lessons are tangible things that cost money so she sees her aunt as the one favoring a child and it is causing a lot of hurt feelings.  You might also explain that when your younger child is older she will also do lessons. 

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#16 of 26 Old 11-19-2011, 05:48 AM
 
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PPs have had some really good advice. I am just wondering, since you said that she has been very involved with your kids, is it possible that 9 yo DD expressed these feelings to her aunt and now your sister is telling you about it?

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#17 of 26 Old 11-19-2011, 06:42 AM
 
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But she's dousing the baby with attention and leaving out the 9 year old.  I don't know if the 9 year would complain that she's getting too much attention. 
 

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PPs have had some really good advice. I am just wondering, since you said that she has been very involved with your kids, is it possible that 9 yo DD expressed these feelings to her aunt and now your sister is telling you about it?


 

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#18 of 26 Old 11-19-2011, 06:53 AM
 
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How about "dear sister, you feel like I favour dd1, and dd2 is left out.  Well, every time you come over with a gift for dd2 and not dd1, dd1 NOTICES, and how she feels is like you are favouring her sister.  What you are doing to dd1 is like what you accuse me of doing to dd2.  If you don't think it's okay to favour one child over the other then STOP DOING IT!  Dd1's feelings are hurt.  She's upset and confused."


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#19 of 26 Old 11-19-2011, 08:35 AM
 
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Quote:
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But she's dousing the baby with attention and leaving out the 9 year old.  I don't know if the 9 year would complain that she's getting too much attention. 
 



 


Oh, right.

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#20 of 26 Old 11-19-2011, 08:37 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mamazee View Post

She doesn't have any kids and treats my kids kind of like hers


Well that explains it. My sister, also childless, tried to do and say a few wacky things when my kids were younger. She wasn't trying to be difficult or mean, she just really was clueless. I put a stop to it right away by just chuckling to myself (I mean it is kind of funny, isn't it?) and saying to her, "That's not how it is. Come back to me when you have a 4 yo and a 2 yo." I was not rude, I spoke with a kind voice, but CLEAR and FIRM.

 

She could take it to mean she doesn't know, because she does not have kids. But frankly, that is the truth, isn't it?

If I were you, I would tell her your 9 yo and your 2 yo are at different stages, and have different needs. She is not grasping the situation because she does not have kids. This is the truth. You don't have to rub it in, but stating she does not have kids and that's why she may not understand I think is fair and reasonable.  

 

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#21 of 26 Old 11-19-2011, 10:16 AM
 
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I would tell her what I tell my 7 yr old when she's upset she's left out of something that dd1 (10) gets to do. There have been several things lately that are 8 or 9 or 10 and up. It's not my rule, but I can't break it for dd2 either. What I tell dd2 is that when dd1 was 7 she didn't get to do that either and when dd2 is 10 she will have a chance to. It seems so simple, but sounds like your sis is just not getting it. When your 2 yr old is 9 she'll have a chance to take the classes, etc, then.

 

I'm the youngest and I so know about the childless older sibling thing. My brother and I are actually semi-estranged over some cr@p he threw at me when my kids were little. My older sister (who has kids) is a little more understanding although her kids were pretty easy and my dd1 has always been pretty high needs. Sis is still a bit bossy, though. It's just her personality. We're really getting along better now than we ever did as kids, though.


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#22 of 26 Old 11-20-2011, 03:53 PM
 
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It sounds to me like your sister is playing favorites. I have dealt with relatives playing favorites myself. I had to stand up to them and say no more. If they have one child over, it has to be both. If they only want one at a time, they will alternate. It led to a lot of anger and not speaking to me for months, but when they came around, things were better. I am glad I put my foot down because it has been 14 years since all that happened and just imagaine how bad things would be now.

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#23 of 26 Old 11-23-2011, 08:24 PM
 
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my mom thought this about the way i disciplined my kids when she 1st came to live w/us.  they were 4 and almost 2.  OF COURSE i had higher expectations of my 4 yr.  i had the same expectations of dd @ 2 as ds @ 2.  NORMAL  she's dropped it lately.


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#24 of 26 Old 11-23-2011, 08:38 PM
 
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So when the older one goes to college will you have to spend $1000s of dollars on the younger because you're paying for DD1's schooling? Um, no...DD2's turn will come around when she turns 18.  Why is this any different?


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#25 of 26 Old 11-24-2011, 12:20 PM
 
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I don't know anything about adult sibling dynamics because I'm an only, but I do think your sister is being a little nutty.  I have had little pangs of guilt for spending so much on my 8 year old while my 2 year old requires very little money spent on him.  Of course there's all the classes and activities that cost a lot.  But even just a trip to the toy store is completely skewed towards my older.  We will often walk out with a $50 toy or game for M and a $7 thomas train car for A.  Or last weekend we got M a $75 lego set and a $10 3-lego-person set for A.  A really has everything he needs and wants already in M's old (and new -- because anything that is currently loved by M is highly coveted by A) toys.  When the seasons change, M usually gets a whole new wardrobe and then I dig into M's old stuff for items that will fit A, and then he'll get a handful of new things because they're fun or cute or there's a hole in the wardrobe somewhere.  

 

But I definitely don't think A has any idea that we spend more on M.  And because A is in my arms so much of the time and with me all of the time, and M is getting to that age where he doesn't want to give me a kiss goodbye when I drop him at school or sit on my lap at home, M is the one I expect to hear complaining.  I am actually really shocked at how little either one of them complains about who gets what  --  in terms of attention and stuff.  I don't think they compare themselves to each other that way.  Maybe it's the big age difference.

 

Right now A is having a blast playing with M's old little people and an old tractor.  M never really played with either of them.  lol


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#26 of 26 Old 11-24-2011, 12:46 PM
 
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Everyone has covered it so well. Just wanted to let you know you weren't alone. My twin sister  (all my sisters really) have a sort of other parent mentality with my kids (of course only my twin still lives in town),being childless themselves. I have heard many opinions form them on how I raise the kids including that I prefer one kid over another and her subsequently trying to "make it up" to the other kids. I had to have the "let me tell you what is really going on her, let me explain about needs at different ages" talk. It's been much better since, she now understands this difference too.  There are some really good talking points in this thread that should help your sister understand, and if she STILL pulls these things then definetley limit time with the kids.
 

 


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