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I have been lurking on this site for a while now and have learned a lot by reading through the posts. Lots of good info.

I am writing this to get opinions on how to deal with in-laws who are not treating my children fairly and it is starting to really bug my wife and myself. A bit of background…my wife and I have been happily married for 9 years and have a 7 year old daughter and a son who is almost 4. My wife’s parents are divorced and her father remarried when my wife was young (we are both in our mid to upper 30’s now). She has a large family that includes a step-sister with 4 kids currently. We do get along with her dad and step-mom for the most part…but one issue keeps resurfacing and it is really starting to get to us.

The issue is that we feel that her father and step-mother clearly favor the children of the step-sister to the point where our children are starting to get their feelings hurt and even show resentment. The latest thing that came up is that her Father and Step-Mother told us that they will not come to our Son’s 4 th birthday party because they want to watch my niece’s cheerleading competition which is a 2 day event and they want to go to both (not her first or last this school year and they go to all of them). Since he is only 4, we do not have many people invited and it will be obvious that they are not there.

This is not the only time something like this has happened. On my daughter’s 5 th birthday, they cancelled out at the last minute and told us they had an emergency pop up with an elder family member. Later that night, my nephew posted pics of them on facebook at dinner with him to celebrate his 16 th birthday that night and his b-day was over 2 weeks away. When my wife asked about it she was told that “16 th birthdays are special and we wanted to take him to dinner”. That was not as bad because it was a big party with horse rides, kid games, and lots of kids from her class. They ended up mailing her a small gift a month or so later that was a fraction of the cost of gifts that they gave other grandchildren. My daughter even said “what’s this…my birthday was a long time ago”

It is not just birthdays. Some combinations of other Grandkids stay at their house at least once a month – usually twice. Our daughter has stayed the night with them 2-3 times in 7 years and our son never has. Both have asked and been turned down and usually it is because they have plans with step-SIL’s kids. They even had one of SIL’s adopted kids (who was later un-adopted – LONG story) live with them for almost a year. They also drive to the city where other Grandkids live at least once a week. We see them once every 3 months or so and usually we go visit them.

When our kids do see them, it is hard to get them to stop talking about the other grandkids ( wife: “our daughter got 100% on her last 5 spelling test” step-MIL: “that’s nice…our other GD is going to a cheer camp” wife:”our son is learning…” Step-MIL “well other GS is doing something better”). It almost feels like they don’t even want to hear how our kids are doing and only want us to hear how other grandkids are doing. However, they are nice to our kids and our kids love them very much.

We are not the only ones to feel this way. My BIL and his family often feel the same way we do but not to the extent that we do. His family lives in the same town that FIL and Step-MIL live in so they see them more often than they see our kids but they still feel like they play second fiddle to step-SIL’s family. The thing is we feel like we are playing 3 rd fiddle.

Distance is not an issue. We live about 1hr away while step-SIL lives about 1hr the other direction from FIL and step-MIL.

This is very painful for my wife. She has always felt like her father abandoned her and her brothers when he divorced her mother and left to be with his current wife (they had an affair). She also felt like he always favored his step-daughter. My wife is starting IC again over this issue and it is starting to wear her down. Their attitude towards our children has made all of her feelings re-surface.

We have tried talking to them, but it seems to go over their heads (at least over his head and possibly ignored by step-MIL). Their attitude towards my wife and kids does not bother me as bad but my kids are starting to ask why and it is tearing my wife up inside. I am angry for them more than anything.

Any thoughts or suggestions on how to handle this situation?
 

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As a child when growning up, their was 7 grandchildren on my mother side. My aunts children were named good, my uncles children were label misbahaved children... During holidays, Christmas my aunt children always received more presents than everyone else.

My mother treats all her grandchildren differently my 10 yr old, 9yr old and 2 1/2 yr old. My oldest gets more attention and my 9 yr old and 2 1/2 yr old is treated differently too..

My 10 yr old and 9 yr old have the same father, but his father has remarried and he doesnt aknowledge any of his blood children he aknowledge his daughter with his new wife.

With my current husband we have my children and my 2 1/2 yr old but, his family doesnt aknowledge them at all either... My in laws have 5 grandchildren the one they aknowledge the MOST is the one that lives with them because their daughter my SIL still lives at home with them.

Other than that its favoritism between my children vs her children. Other than that our families dont get along which plays a part too
 

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Since it is starting to hurt your children, you might want to decrease their exposure to their grandfather and step-grandmother.

If the grandparents ask way send them an email or letter with two lists of what they give in time etc to the other children and what they give to yours.

Tell them that the children have noticed, are hurt and are asking why their grandparent's don't love them like they love the other grandkids. Tell them that as parents you see no reason to expose your children to this kind of hurt.
 

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Father and Step-mother are TOXIC people to your family. ENOUGH! Your wife's health and spirit are affected by this cr*p and so are your kids'.

Be done with her Dad & stepmother. TRUST ME, they won't even NOTICE that you stop bringing the kids around (until they run out of people to BRAG to about their other grandchildren's accomplishments). Really, if THIS is what your visits have devolved to -- you sitting around listening to Gparents BRAG about their other grandchildren while ignoring YOUR children...and you sit around making appropriate grunting noises (like you GIVE a rat's butt), then END THE CHARADE!

This isn't quality family time...your WIFE is going back into THERAPY over this. Stop the insanity.

Speak with your wife about a moratorium on visiting her dad. NO VISITS until Father's Day (June 2013). That will give your family 6 months DRAMA-FREE. If the children ask, tell them Grandma & grandpa are busy (which they are...with the OTHER grandkids).
However, they are nice to our kids and our kids love them very much.
They are NOT nice to your kids: they ignore their celebrations, refuse to let them spend the night and show LESS INTEREST in them than in the other grandkids. What you mean is 'they are not overtly mean/rude to my kids'. I guess that's SOMETHING, but it sure as hell isn't much!

During the moratorium, the grandparents are welcome to CALL YOUR HOME and talk to YOU or WIFE (not sure I'd involve the kids in phone calls). If they want to know what the problem is, tell them. Don't expect them to call, though. Don't expect them to invite you over. Don't expect them to notice you haven't been around. My guess is that (like most families) the WIFE makes ALL the social plans...and your step-mother-in-law doesn't really give a cr*p about you guys. Their loss!

If this no-visitation policy improves things for your wife, then you can see about a twice a year visit (father's day & christmas/new year). The visits can be on YOUR terms (as long/short as YOU & wife deem feasible). You can find OTHER grandparent figures for your kids (older neighbors, parents of YOUR or WIFE's friends, etc.). Think outside the box.
 
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