sister-in-law - FamilyEducation
01/15/2008 at 13:55 PM

Hello! I am new to this site, just started today! I need to know if I'm being petty. Here's the situation. My sister-in-law is one of my best friends, we've been friends of and on for about 20 some years. I love her to death, she is the type who is always offering help, will do anything for you, and always offering advice. The problem is that my husband and I think she is competitive with me. I have 3 kids: Liam 10, Jack 5, and Maeve 2. She has 4: ages 5,4,3, and 9mo. My mother and father-law live about 2 minutes from us, everybody is pretty close; lots of Sunday dinners, birthday parties... My sister-in-law is over her Mom's at least 3 times a week. My in-laws are let's say "closer" to my sister-in-laws kids. There is clearly more attention given to her kids. I could go on and on with examples, but I won't! She just had a photo book made up of her kids where all the pages had poems pertaining to her kids. Then she had a calender of her kids made and gave them out to all the family members - there are 5 siblings. I feel like she is making sure her kids are the favorites - and they are, anywhere she goes (Gymboree classes, school) she makes sure they get all the attention. It's really hard for me to have the kind of relationship I want with my in-laws due to this, and it grates on me alot. Any thoughts or suggestions? 

Perhaps you could try to have your in-laws visit you at your home just you and them instead of the group get togethers.  Use the small group environment to re-establish relationships.  Don't even attempt to compete.  Just enjoy your kids and your in-laws.  Eventualy your kids will have their own relationship with the in-laws.  Your 10 year old son perhaps could go to the in-laws on his own and spend special days with them.  Little things like that will put long lasting memories in the grandparents hearts more then a scrapbook or photo calendar.  Plan special family outings for just you and your in-laws for the summer.  Trust me, it works.  My kids are now 16 and 18 and we all have special relationships with our parents/grandparents on both sides.  Special memories are better then the popularity contest and who is favorite.  By the way, try and keep the good relationship with your sister in-law.  Life's too short for family conflict.


Besides that, it sounds a little like OCD, so be extra compassionate toward her kids, too.  And her husband.  Believe me, having a nutty mom is a little tricky!


Thanks for replying! I know what your saying is the "right" way to approach this, it's just that I get upset and angry when we have to see this favoritism all the time. Thanks again!


Wow, your sister-in-law sounds just like mine, only milder. Unlike you, though, our relationship is a complete disaster. Not only is she competitive, but she's flat out rude. She always has to do something to make herself look better than everyone else. Also, my mother-in-law had all boys. She always wanted a little girl. My husband and I were the first to have a baby, and we had a boy. Then my sister-in-law got pregnant soon after having twins (a boy and a girl). She not only rubbed the girl in our faces, but said she now was complete with the perfect family-a boy and a girl. To make matters worse, my oldest son was diagnosed w/ a disability. I beat myself up so much thinking maybe I did something during my pregnancy to cause him to have these problems. She told me it must've been the paint we used on the baby's room. As if I didn't feel bad enough. This is just one example of many. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I, in no way, am jealous of my sister-in-law. In fact, I'm happy for her. But why must she go out of her way to put me down? It makes me so angry. Everyone knows this is her nature, and they just ignore her comments, but it really bothers me. I feel I've never done anything to try to make her jealous of me. I've brought this to her attention, but she only tells me that she's not going to change. As a result it's become a "family problem" where I feels she's turned everyone against me, and now I don't want to have anything to do with anyone. I'm tired of her remarks and tired of trying to always do the right thing. If I put her in her place, she only turns the situation around and backstabs me or anyone else who doesn't agree w/ her. It's come to the point now where I don't trust her anymore. My husband and I have decided not to share certain info w/ the family b/c of her. (This solution did not go over very well.) It's unfortunate b/c we want to talk about our children and our lives, but if we tell one person, news travels to our sister-in-law who always manages to have something negative to say. My sister-in-law is very nosy and will go out of her way to get info to gossip about (even if she comes across as nice on the surface). At this point, my husband and I have stopped talking to our sister-in-law, as well as his brothers and their wives, since they too felt the need to put their 2 cents in, even though this had nothing to do w/ them. The sad part is my mother-in-law is caught in the middle of this whole mess. We have missed family gatherings, birthdays and now we have a wedding coming up, and I'm stressing over that. My husband wants to go for his mother's sake, so I told him to go alone b/c I feel too uncomfortable. Am I being selfish saying that? We have made several attempts to rectify the situation, but no one is budging on their end. We asked for an apology for the way we've been treated, but have gotten nothing. Everyone's acting like they've done nothing wrong, and in turn are putting all the blame on us and saying I'm too sensitive. They shld at least take credit for something! Do you think I'm over-reacting? This whole situation is so frustrating, and we're at our wit's end! I just want it to stop and for everyone to get along, but I don't know what else to do! HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Many families experience favortism. My mother has always been partial to my sister's kids. When I was younger, it would bother me but as I have grown wiser I realize there is not much I can do about it. You can make place mats and t-shirts to compete with the calendar if you wish, but is that what you really want to do? Focus on helping your kids be the best they can be. Your in-laws will make a relationship with your kids in the manner they wish to. It is not your responsibility to convince them to love your kids equally. I felt much more relaxed when I just accepted that my mom had favorites and stopped trying to correct it.

I have similar situation with my brother and sis in law. I am part of an Asian family where boys are favored more because they carry on the last name. I had my daughter before he had his son. From the very beginning they both have always strived to gain attention from our family. They would compare my daughters milestones to their son's. Then when we have gatherings they show video clips of their son , and forcing him to do certain things to show off. When my daughter unexpectedly said something in Chinese and attention was on her, my brother had his son try to say something in chinese and Tagalog to refocus attention back to his son. I decided that I don't want my daughter to be a part of this. I lived my life in the shadows of brother being put down and disrespected that I don't want it for my daughter. I love my nephew and adore him, but it is what it is. I just keep my distance and ignore what they are doing