My In-Laws Gave Gifts to Two Grandchildren, but Not to a Third. Help!

A few years ago, my in-laws gave our oldest child and another grandchild generous monetary gifts when they turned 13 in the same year. The other grandchild had a bar mitzvah that year, but we’re not religious so our child did not. Still, they both received checks. Our second child turned 13 two years ago, but she received no such gift. My husband and I think this was an oversight. We don’t believe his parents meant to favor one child over another. Should my husband mention this to them? Our younger child, now 15, feels slighted by her grandparents and disappointed. But my husband doesn’t feel comfortable approaching his parents about this gift. Help!


You love your children and want them to be treated fairly: two siblings, two birthday checks, right? I get it. And I think your in-laws get it, too — in a way. That’s probably why they gave a large cash gift to your older child on his or her 13th birthday after having given a large gift to their other grandchild who celebrated a bar mitzvah that year. They wanted to avoid the appearance of favoritism between grandchildren. But does that single decision require your in-laws to write checks to 13-year-olds forevermore?

It may! It’s not customary, though, to give large cash gifts to children simply for turning 13. This may also explain why your husband is reluctant to approach his parents about these gifts, and why your younger child’s 13th birthday didn’t register with your in-laws: The day itself has no built-in significance. And the gift you expect requires piggybacking on a cousin’s bar mitzvah that was held several years ago.

Now, the bigger issue here, in my opinion, is not money. Your daughter has felt hurt by her grandparents for two years now, and no one has addressed that problem. Even if she were to receive a check from them tomorrow, it probably wouldn’t erase her hard feelings entirely. So, I would focus on explaining the fluky circumstances to her and encourage her to think of her grandparents as more than the gifts they give. If you want to be even-steven about it, consider giving her a check yourself.

Credit…Miguel Porlan

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