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from A Grandpa's Notebook, Meyer Moldeven

Grandparents generally accept and enjoy the many roles into which they have been cast. One of the many is that they are the grandparents of all their grandchildren, not just of one whom they chose to be their favorite. Favoritism invites disaster.

A young mother of two posed the following dilemma to an Internet discussion group devoted to family relations and child behavior. I altered the text slightly, primarily to protect the writer's privacy. She wrote:

'Since the birth of our second child our family has received lots of warm wishes. Yet, often, in offering congratulations, well wishers remarked along the lines 'You must be happy to have a boy now.' This confused our older child, a four-year-old girl.

'Of course, she is a much loved and cherished child and we could not love her any more if she were a boy. And we are very happy to have our new son, but would have loved a second daughter just as much. But the casual remarks about having a son are secondary to my concern about my parents' relationship with our children.

'My parents reside within easy driving distance and we are a close-knit family. Rarely a week passes that we and my parents don't do something together. They are my daughter's primary baby-sitters and are very generous toward her.

'However, I am starting to see that there will be a difference, based solely on gender, in my parents' treatment of both children. When my son was barely a week old, my father said that he was looking forward to taking him fishing. When I remarked that my daughter had a fishing pole and, due to the age difference between her and her brother, would be a more appropriate companion, still no invitation was forthcoming.

'When my father invited my husband fishing the following week, my father grumbled at the suggestion that they take my daughter along.

'My son is now two and a half months old, and my father is looking forward to participating with him in Little League, soccer, etc. Again, both my husband and I chimed in that the same activities are also available for girls. Silence.

'What really disturbs me is that after these rebuffs my daughter sometimes quietly says to me, 'Mama, I am proud we both are girls.' I don't know where she gets this from, but she'll often repeat it several times and in more of a forlorn tone than an enthusiastic one.'

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