Avoiding Favoritism Among Grandchildren

by Donne Davis on August 22, 2011

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The advice I’ve read about how to avoid favoritism among grandchildren is to spend equal time with each grandchild. When I apply this to my own two grandchildren who are four years apart, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to catch up on time with my younger granddaughter.

The older one had my undivided attention for four years before her little sister came on the scene. And during her first year, I felt like I hardly got to know her because her older sister still managed to get most of my attention. Another grandma I know said she experienced the same situation.

As the little one has developed a personality of her own, I’ve come to appreciate her unique qualities rather than comparing her to her older sister. Amelia, who is four, is a natural comedian and generously spreads her love and laughter around to all the family when we get together.

Recently, we took an improvisational acting class together and even though she was the youngest in the group, she wanted to try all the improv games that our teacher demonstrated. When the teacher asked us to be statues in a museum, Amelia struck a dancer’s pose. When we had an imaginary blob to form into a shape, she watched the others in the circle and when it was her turn, her blob became a toothbrush and she pretended to brush her teeth.

She was a late talker but now she’s making up for lost time. Yesterday she called to ask me to tell her a story. When I inquired what kind of story, she gave a long description about what she wanted my story to be about.

“Wow, you’re such a wonderful storyteller,” I told her. “Why don’t you tell me a story?”

She spun a long fantastic yarn about a magical flying tiger who teaches two girlfriends how to fly up into the trees. Every time she paused, I asked: “And then what happened?” And she added more details to her story.

Carving out one-on-one time with each of your grandchildren can be challenging, especially if you’re a long-distance grandparent. You may have to ask their parents to help you achieve this goal. My husband and I use the “divide and conquer” method when we visit. We each pair up with one of our granddaughters and go into different rooms so that we can enjoy separate activities. Grandpa may draw or do Sudoku puzzles with the older one, while I go outside and watch the younger one swing on the monkey bars.

By focusing on each of your grandchildren’s unique strengths and interests, you’ll avoid favoritism and send the message that each one is special and loved for exactly who they are.

{ 1 comment }

Susan Adcox August 23, 2011 at 2:20 am

When I researched this topic for my website, I learned a couple of interesting things. First, it’s almost impossible to keep from having favorites. The key is not to play favorites. It’s virtually impossible to treat grandchildren equally, but if you do as you say and focus on each child’s strengths and interests, each will feel loved.

Secondly, I learned that there are two types of favoritism–fixed and fluid. Fluid favoritism is more acceptable because it is based on circumstances rather than a fixed preference for one child. One child may get more attention from grandparents because he or she is geographically closer, or has health problems, or shares a grandparent’s interests. Those circumstances can, and frequently do, change. But a grandparent who has a fixed preference for a certain grandchild can do damage to the other grandchildren.

Interesting stuff, I thought.

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