General Etiquette > Family and Children

Say something or let it go? Favorites

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pearls n purls:
I have a 5-month old baby girl and I live in region A.  My sister also lives in region A and has a daughter (Baby Niece) about a year older than my baby.

My dh's siblings live in region B.  They are far enough away that we usually only see them in couple times a year, but when we do see them, it is usually for at least a week and we stay with one of them.  I love my in-laws and feel close to them.  We have a good relationship.

My dh's sister has a daughter (Niece) who is 10 years old.  My dh has another sister (Aunt) who is very close to niece.

When visiting while pregnant, Aunt said things like she is Niece's favorite aunt and my sister will be my baby's favorite Aunt.  We were just visiting them and there were many comments such as Niece is Aunt's favorite niece and my dd will be her second-favorite, niece is dd's favorite cousin, etc.

I don't like to play favorites or talk about who is someone's favorite.  So far, my daughter has two female cousins.  One who is close in age, and one who is quite a bit older and very much dotes on the baby. I hope my dd will have close relationships with both her cousins, but expect them to be different relationships due to age difference, proximity, etc.

I didn't say anything when the comments were spoken because dd is just a baby and obviously can't understand the comments.  I would think the comments will stop by the time dd is old enough to understand, but there's no way to know for sure.

Aunt is not a bad person.  I don't think she is jealous of my relationship with niece, but am unsure.  I adore Niece, and she loves me.  Aunt and I are very different people, so Niece does X things with Aunt and Y things with me.  I view different relationships with different people to be a good thing.

The next time Aunt talks about favorites, should I continue to ignore it or should I say that multiple people love niece/dd and niece/dd love multiple people and I don't think the relationships should be ranked in terms of favorites?

ti_ax:
I would probably laugh it off with a quip about your dd being number 2 and having to try harder.

TootsNYC:
I would directly address it:
"Sis-in-law, I don't want my child to hear comment about "favorite" and "second-favorite." I fear she may find it damages her relationships, or makes her feel unwanted, or define the relationship before she's even begun to create one."

And then every time it comes up, say something like, "Oh, is it necessary to rank people like that? If someone is not the favorite, it just seems like rubbing her nose in it. People can have closer relationships without pointing it out on purpose, right?"

Because while I know that I am not 10yo niece's favorite aunt (she may not have known me as long, and we live a ways apart), I would be hurt to have it pointed out. (And in fact, *my* favorite aunt gets that "rank" because of her personality, and not because of where she lives or how often I see her or how long I've known her.)

Pen^2:
I can see that this could make you uncomfortable. I wouldn't laugh it off if you don't want your daughter growing up with possibly an acute sense of where everyone ranks according to each other. She might realise that she is number two to Aunt, cousin in number one, but other Aunt is her number one, etc. I can see why this could easily (but not necessarily) become something unhealthy.

When I was at school, I was friends with a girl who ranked everyone. I was her fourth best friend (as in, I was fourth in the hierarchy). Maybe not everyone else cared, but I certainly resented it. There's nothing wrong with liking another person more or less, but to constantly rub it in is kind of uncouth. For all she knows, SIL has similarly upset several relatives who just haven't said anything.

She's your child. If you want to raise her in a way that involves not playing favourites, then good for you. That's your right.

I would therefore address it directly. As soon as it comes up next time, I would say something like, "oh, we don't play favourites. We love everyone!" or, "we don't talk about ranking people in our family." If it continues after you dismiss it like this, then address it more sternly: "SIL, we are bringing up Baby with the idea that it isn't nice to rank people and relationships constantly, because it can become unhealthy and can hurt people. Your talk of favourites does this. Please stop talking about favourites."

If she continues, well, you certainly don't want your child around someone who adamantly refuses to listen to the parent's wishes. Of course, I doubt it would come to this. SIL sounds well-meaning but clueless.

Coley:

--- Quote from: Pen^2 on June 27, 2013, 12:45:33 PM ---I can see that this could make you uncomfortable. I wouldn't laugh it off if you don't want your daughter growing up with possibly an acute sense of where everyone ranks according to each other. She might realise that she is number two to Aunt, cousin in number one, but other Aunt is her number one, etc. I can see why this could easily (but not necessarily) become something unhealthy.

When I was at school, I was friends with a girl who ranked everyone. I was her fourth best friend (as in, I was fourth in the hierarchy). Maybe not everyone else cared, but I certainly resented it. There's nothing wrong with liking another person more or less, but to constantly rub it in is kind of uncouth. For all she knows, SIL has similarly upset several relatives who just haven't said anything.

She's your child. If you want to raise her in a way that involves not playing favourites, then good for you. That's your right.

I would therefore address it directly. As soon as it comes up next time, I would say something like, "oh, we don't play favourites. We love everyone!" or, "we don't talk about ranking people in our family." If it continues after you dismiss it like this, then address it more sternly: "SIL, we are bringing up Baby with the idea that it isn't nice to rank people and relationships constantly, because it can become unhealthy and can hurt people. Your talk of favourites does this. Please stop talking about favourites."

If she continues, well, you certainly don't want your child around someone who adamantly refuses to listen to the parent's wishes. Of course, I doubt it would come to this. SIL sounds well-meaning but clueless.

--- End quote ---

POD to all of this. Part of me finds it laughable that Aunt thinks she can decide who someone else would perceive to be "favorite." On the other hand, talking about favorites seems hurtful and should be nipped in the bud.

If Aunt kept it up after the lighthearted, "We love everyone!" I might be inclined to say something like, "If you have favorites, please keep it to yourself."

(Edited to fix an editing error that made no sense.)

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