Hey Grandparents, Stop Playing Favorites With Your Grandkids

by Madison Hayes
Originally Published: 
Grandma holding her grandkid
Michele Fallis/Reshot

My mom is incredible. She’s a loving woman, friend, mother, and grandmother, and I love her with my whole heart. But she, as well as my husband’s parents, do this thing that I seriously freakin’ hate: they play favorites with their grandbabies — my babies — and this is an area where this mama bear does not play.

It started out in a subtle way, while my youngest baby was just a newborn, but now, a couple of years later, it’s become a huge problem. There’s been times where the grandparents have visited, and the only word spoken to her was “Hello.”

Unlike my oldest children, my youngest is shy and easygoing. She’d rather sit back and observe before jumping into anything head first, completely beating to the tune of her own drum. And I love her so much because of it.

But due to her shy-around-others personality, she’s forgotten by her grandparents more times than not. It’s almost as if they feel she’s not interesting or entertaining enough for them to take the time to pursue, unlike my rambunctious others… and it’s the grandparents who are missing out on someone so beautiful.

Monica G/Reshot

Whatever the situation may be, there is no excuse for grandparents who play favorites, and it’s hurtful to more people and in more ways than just one. Though it’s only killing my mommy heart for now, my daughter is growing and learning — it’s sinking in that we aren’t so far off from a time when these actions become noticeable and painful for her, not to mention, my older children who stinkin’ adore their younger sister too.

To be a parent of a child who is forgotten stings me to my core. And to be a parent with a parent who is playing favorites with my kids without realizing it hurts even more. How can she, and the other grandparents, not see what I see in my daughter?

You swear it wouldn’t happen. But when it has, it takes time to recognize it through the denial. And when you do and it’s confronted, it brings something ugly to rest on your insides when your valid concerns are belittled and excuses are given.

Anna Yusupova/Reshot

Your grandbaby acts too shy around you? Find a way to bring her out of her shell. Visit more. Play with her the same way you did with your other children. Show an actual, genuine interest in her. You might be surprised at the shining personality which blossoms, as well as the strained relationship with your own child that becomes mended.

You spent more time with your other grandchildren, and now you feel that bond is stronger? Well, I’ll be… it’s a damn good thing we are capable of loving more than just one person, eh? This excuse for a lack of connection with one child, because it’s felt so intimately with another, is no reason to further hinder something that could be beautiful.

Darby S/Reshot

You don’t think your grandchild likes you? Hmm, may I ask how you feel when you’re in a crowd and the one whose been seemingly forgotten? Any relationship takes time, work and love, even those formed by blood. But when there is no effort being put in, then maybe it shouldn’t come as a shocker when an attachment is lacking.

You think your child is being too sensitive? I’m sorry, but you don’t get to contradict or invalidate how another person is feeling. And even if you try, that doesn’t make those emotions and concerns just go away. Stop deflecting, and go love on your grandkid.


Kids are too smart and intuitive for grandparents to play favorites, and it’s only a matter of time before they see the difference in attention, and ultimately, what they will view as love, too. It is not a kid’s job to become who their grandparent wants or needs to gain their attention. Grandmothers and grandfathers are supposed to love all of their grandchildren unconditionally, without favor, in the same manner you would with your own children as a parent.

Some kids are loud, full of energy, spitting out oodles upon oodles of words and bring everyone around them many giggles. They age you quickly, but my-my-my, they are a hoot and a holler to be around. Their presence leaves you filled up from empty to full within a matter of seconds, and there’s not a doubt in this world that they won’t try some hilarious shenanigans that tests you with a smile.

And then there are other children who were born stoic and with an old soul. The kind who would rather bask in the sun on the shore, soaking in the goodness of it all, than in the ocean where all the other kids are. Wise beyond their years, but you’ll miss it if you aren’t intently listening. And let me tell you, these kids gobble up your soul whole.

No matter the differing disposition, personality or age from grandchild to grandchild, each one is good, unique, special and deserving of equal love from their grandparents where there are some. Not to mention, playing favorites is just downright hurtful.

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