My Parents-In-Law Play Favorites with Their Grandchildren

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a homemaker in my 40s and have three children: two daughters aged 17 and 14 and a son aged 11. I want to cut ties with my in-laws.

My in-laws have given special treatment to my elder daughter — their first grandchild — since she was little. They would take only her out to shop and buy her 10 different outfits while the other kids would get only one each.

My father-in-law gave the eldest a large allowance recently, which is causing her to be bad with money. I’ve been asking him to stop every time he does something like this, but he does not admit to giving her money.

My husband is on his parents’ side rather than his own children’s, and it wears me out. My younger children hate their grandparents, who favor their sister over them. I want her to split the money to share it among the three, but she keeps quiet about it, not understanding why she should share, by claiming that the allowance was given only to her. It is bad for the kids, and I feel we are stuck in a vicious cycle.

— H, Tokyo

Dear Ms. H:

It is very annoying that parents-in-law favor their first grandchild over the others. Your in-laws don’t want to change their ways though they fray your family’s relationship, and your husband is on his own parents’ side.

But the biggest problem is that your elder daughter does not seem to think anything of being the only one unfairly receiving so much money. She seems unwilling to decline the money because it is not right, and not to be considerate enough to share it with her younger siblings.

However, your daughter and husband’s attitude may also come from your apprehension toward your in-laws, whom you continue to complain about and criticize. To avoid further strain in your family, it would be wise not to bring up the issue around your in-laws; I’m sure you already have expressed your concerns enough to them and your family.

Your children will be entering crucial points in their life as they prepare for higher education or finding a job. Why not make time to discuss these matters with them, or to bond with them about their hobbies or current affairs? Take your time with them, believing that the trust built through this process will nurture the family and strengthen bonds. I believe this may be the best “revenge” you can get with your in-laws

— Masami Ohinata, university president