Showing favoritism towards one child

I’ve been married for nearly 5 years now. So far, everything has been great. One little thing has come up lately, though. We have two kids (actually my wife’s from her first marriage): a 10-year old boy and a 17-year old girl. My wife tends to favor the boy over the girl. The girl favors her biological father quite a bit and I think that’s where the slight level of resentment comes from. The boy favors her. She is very light on disciplining him and I’m about to lose it. I’ve discussed this with her on several occassions and she agrees with me, but is VERY slow to change, if at all. He’s getting to the point where the smart mouth is about to get out of hand, but whenever I try to discipline him, she’s insists she has it under control. Now, I’m not one for spanking a child this old, but SOMETHING should be done.

This whole situation sticks in my crawl because my mother did EXACTLY the same thing with my little brother. I’m 36 and he’s 33 now. And just how did HE turn out? Quit school in the 9th grade (my mother covered for him to my father); has been jail 3-4 times; has 2 DUI’s; has been married 3 times; has 3-5 children he claims (I would insist on DNA tests, myself); can’t keep a job for more than 1 year. and ME? Finished high school and a 2-year degree in computer programming; hold a good steady job; have never had any legal problems or any children.

I am afraid my stepson will follow the same path as my brother and I have said this to my wife on several occassions. Again she admits she has a problem (afterall, this is her BABY we’re talking about), but, again, no solution is in sight.

I am the type of guy who beleives that nearly any marital problem can be solved with talk, but how much talk can I stand here?

Whenever I insist on a punishment, she’s usually against because she doen’t want to “upset” him!! My reply is that, if he wants to act inappropiately, he should pay the price and if gets upset, so be it.

My wife and I usually present a united front on everything else, but this problem doesn’t appear to have a solution in the forseeable future.

Any comments or advice based on a similar experience would be appreciated.

You got a mess on your hands, Trumpy. And as facile as it sounds, I think you and your wife could use some counseling. BTW, I think you are 100% correct, but if your wife can’t alter her favoritism, there’s biiiig trouble ahead.

This isn’t fair to the boy, to the other child, or to your marriage. My family’s experience was like yours; in my mom’s family the youngest son was the cherished and obvious favorite. It helped cause lifelong friction w/ his 2 siblings, and didn’t do one damned positive thing for his character. He died relatively early, a frustrated, irresponsible man who never learned that the world wouldn’t treat him as a favorite.

Just my opinion, but stick to your guns and get some outside help. Level with your wife on how deep your concern runs–and let her know it’s based on her son’s future.

The best of luck to all of you.


Two ideas - one is to see Gesell Institute’s summary of normal growth and development - it is probably a library thing–You’d need to check the ages since they have split the information by age groups. These books usually give a description of the child with his parents, peers, and teachers. See how well this boy fits into the age group.

Two is to watch your rights in the family - you are not the boy’s dad and there are some things you can and can’t do. You ALWAYS can say how you feel about the way he talks to YOUR WIFE (not his mother) or what the standards of behavior are in YOUR PRESENCE (not how your son is to behave). This is a fine line and you might like having help with this for a while.

Do you and the boy have a meeting of the minds anywhere? Baseball? Catch? Ice cream?

Oh, I’m gonna keep using these #%@&* codes 'til I get 'em right.

Since you’ve been married for five years, you’ve been around to witness the most horrific time between a mother and a daughter. My sis-in-law is going through the same thing right now with her daughter. This is a woman who lived and breathed for her child, and now she’s saying things like, “I want to give her to go live with her father. Seriously. I don’t know what to do with her.” Her daughter, who used to be sweet as pie, has turned into a mouthy brat who I don’t even recognize at times. I have to keep reminding myself that she’s a teenager, she’s a teenager.

Your stepson is just entering the teenage years. Your wife treats him differently because he’s younger and he’s a boy. But, he’s starting to turn bratty, too, according to you. Ahh! The mouthy teenage years. Give your wife time. Soon, she’ll hate him, too!

My father told my brother to his face that he prefers him. Of course my brother repeated this to me in the spirit of brotherly solidarity (he was outraged too). Gr.

We refer to our children as the Good One and the Bad One.

I’ll check back in in 15-20 years and let you know how they turn out.