What should I do if my mother-in-law plays favorites?

Q: My mother-in-law plays favorites. While out one day she took hundreds of pictures of her other grandchildren and only three of my daughter. She also didn't call my daughter on her birthday. We have tried to say something to her about it, but she doesn't see it. What can we do? I don't want my daughter to grow up and wonder why her nana doesn't like her as much as her cousins.

A: Sorry to hear about your mother in law. Do you have any insights into why she might play favorites? Anything in her background that might explain this behavior? Understanding the root of problems can help us find solutions. In the meantime, you did the right thing to approach her and ask her directly. Since that was ineffective you will have to shield your daughter from the disappointments as best you can. Make sure your daughter spends time with other grown ups that feel more positively about her. When she brings it up, have a frank discussion with her. One always grows from both positive and negative experiences in life. As they say, “life is a great teacher.” Playing favorites is a common problem that your daughter will face in school, on teams and eventually in the workplace so you can help her by learning to deal with these challenges. The key is to not let others peoples' decisions and shortcomings negatively impact her self esteem. Make sure your daughter always knows how special she is.

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Answered by Dr. Eva Ritvo

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