Sangita Patel is Streets of Toronto’s new advice columnist and is an entertainment reporter with ET Canada. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two daughters.
Dear Sangita: My parents clearly have a favourite grandchild. Not only have I noticed it, but my daughter has asked me about it, too, when she sees the way her cousin is treated (photos of him all over the house, special outings with him, extravagant Christmas gifts). I don’t want my children to feel left out. What do I do? — Grandparenting Grievances
Dear Grandparenting Grievances: In my culture, the boys are celebrated. When my daughter was born, my husband’s parents were super ecstatic, but when my husband’s brother had a son, it was celebrated even more so. Because, religiously, if you have a son, you have to praise them and put them on a pedestal. So for some cultures, when the son is born, they have more value than the daughter. That mentality might live in your family. You might notice different dynamics between grandparents and grandkids. I saw that growing up too. At the same time, I think it’s helpful to remember that they love them all.
Some kids are easier to play with than others. Sometimes it’s favouritism, and sometimes it’s just that the grandparents relate more to a certain child. If this is something that is really bothering you, and now your daughter as well, rather than bringing it up as an issue with your parents, maybe say, “I’d love for my daughter to have a grandparents solo day with you.” If she’s feeling left out, maybe create that special time just with her and the grandparents, and that way she won’t feel that way.
Dear Sangita: My friend is upset at me for not going to her destination wedding in Europe, but I can’t afford it and she knows that. I feel like she’s being unfair; she’s never had to work to support herself, and her parents have always paid for everything for her, so she doesn’t know what financial stress is like! How do I talk to her about this? — Destination Disaster
Dear Destination Disaster: If you’re close friends, she should know that you need to save money and a wedding like hers is expensive. I think seeing her at the bachelorette party, giving her a nice gift for her wedding and saying you’re there in spirit — that’s fair enough to do. I’m sure you told her that you would love to be there but just can’t afford it.
Friendship is saying, “Hey, I really need you to be there,” rather than, “I’m upset that you’re not coming.” If she really does have that kind of financial support as you described, if she really wanted you to be there, she could have paid for you or helped out with the flight! But at the same time, based on your description, she might be someone who doesn’t understand the value of a dollar — and that’s what the misunderstanding between the two of you is rooted in.
If you don’t want to make it a conflict, I would tell your story the best you can — explain you’re in a tough situation, that she knows how hard you work and you wish her all the best and wish you could have been there for her. You’re saying, “This is my situation, and I know you’re going to understand because you’re my friend,” gently guiding her in the right direction.
Dear Sangita: My 11-year-old daughter has an “unhealthy” obsession with the author of The Giving Tree (Shel Silverstein). Not his books, but his face. She has created a large mural on her door and demands that we allow her to continue to plaster her entire room with his face [and has drawn devil horns and the like on him]. It seems a bit creepy to me. What do you recommend? — Shel from hell
Dear Shel from hell: We used to do this when we were kids: we would take magazines and draw the devil horns on people. I think this is a phase, and sometimes you have to let them have this phase. It looks like she’s an artistic kid, choosing to deal with her emotions in certain ways. If this is the way she’s doing it, rather than doing anything worse than that, hey, why not? It’s possible that she isn’t obsessed with the author – but that there is something creatively about his photo that fascinates her. I think it’s OK to just let her be and let her do this. Kids are going through a lot, especially after COVID, and how they’re coping is completely different. I have a feeling this won’t last that long; it’s just a phase and she’ll come out of it.
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