Family

Favouring one child over the other

Dear Diane, I’m concerned about a situation with my grandchildren. It’s a bit difficult because it involves a mixed-race marriage and I know I need to accept that some things are simply different...

Dear Diane,

I’m concerned about a situation with my grandchildren. It’s a bit difficult because it involves a mixed-race marriage and I know I need to accept that some things are simply different, but this issue really bothers me. My daughter is married to a man from a very different culture and while he’s a real gentleman, I’ve noticed he seems to treat my grandson, who’s nine, much better than my granddaughter, who’s six.

The boy always gets his dad’s full attention while the girl’s desperately trying to be seen. My daughter has told me it’s now so noticeable the little girl is refusing to wear dresses and will only dress in T-shirts and shorts “because Daddy likes boys better”. This breaks my heart and I know my daughter is worried too. How do I tackle this problem? Is it a cultural or personal thing?

*Penny

*Dear Penny,

There are many reasons why a parent can prefer one child or feel closer to one over the other. It may be the temperament or behaviour of the child, or the interests of the child. And, of course, there can be gender preference. The best thing you can do is to support your daughter. Encourage her to gently and, preferably without accusation, discuss with her husband their daughter’s comment and the action she’s taking to try and be boy-like, and thus more likely to appeal to her father.

The best outcome would be that her father sees he has an unconscious bias and has set up this situation unintentionally. Hopefully he can adjust to finding his children equally valuable and loveable and show them this. However, if he isn’t willing or able to shift his position and there are deep-seated cultural reasons for it, your daughter may be better off affirming to her daughter that there is a difference, based on culture, as to how fathers relate to their sons and daughters, and this is what she’s experiencing.

Diane Levy provides expert answers to your parenting queries. Send your questions to: [email protected]. Diane’s books are available in book shops.

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