Jealous

It’s taken over seven months, but yesterday my daughter got jealous of her baby cousin all of a sudden. I have never seen her so sad and it broke my heart. Of the three of them, she was always the most likely to become jealous. She was the only girl and had been the youngest (and therefore cutest) in the family for nearly seven years. And then this beautiful baby came into our lives.

All three of my kids adore their baby cousin. I’ve been so impressed with how kind and gentle they are to her – and how much pleasure they take in making her laugh. In turn she adores them and her face lights up at the sight of them. It is a delight to see.

I see her a couple of times a week and the kids see her even more than that – when they are in Grandma world She is a real part of our family.

I must admit I’ve been amazed by how much I love my niece too. I’ve never had a niece or nephew of my own – and we rarely see our two nephews on my husband’s side. I never realised you could love another child almost as much as you love your own. But she is my flesh and blood. And she’s gorgeous and funny and adorable. She is becoming such a character.

My niece was eating with us for the first time and loving her food. My daughter, as ever, was eating extremely slowly and getting distracted. My eldest, renowned for upsetting my daughter, announced a race between them to finish their meals. The boys, my sister and brother-in-law and my parents all cheered on my niece. My daughter finished her food after her cousin. My eldest taunted her: ‘beaten by a baby!’. And she ran off. I got her to come back inside with the promise of pudding But the damage had been done. She was so angry with my son that she refused to be in the same room as him. It was only when I was holding my niece and saw my daughter slink away with silent tears running down her face that it dawned on me what was really going on.

It wasn’t just about who ate their tea fastest. It wasn’t just about my son teasing her. It was about how everyone and everything was focused on my niece. As my niece had smiled and waved her way through tea, we had all lapped it up. Then everyone had cheered for my niece in an entirely pointless race that should never have been a race.

My daughter ran off and hid and I sat with her as she cried her little heart out. There was no shouting or screaming, no chucking stuff around. She hardly spoke a word, just cried her silent little tears.

To his credit, my eldest came and apologised to her. I thanked him and told him not to worry as that wasn’t the only reason she was upset. He was upset to see her in such a bad way and kept asking her what was wrong. I didn’t tell him because I didn’t want him to get angry with her and tell her she was spoilt. He worked it out later in the day and I’m pleased to say was kind and understanding to her about it – and he didn’t tell his younger brother why she was so upset.

I took my girl home and sat her in front of the telly with Teddy which is usually a fail-safe way of cheering her up, but the tears kept coming. In the end she cried for nearly three hours – never once shouting, screaming or having a tantrum.

She feels Grandma and Grandpa don’t love her as much now they’ve got a new granddaughter. I told her this isn’t true, but while she is still Best Girl in the World to Daddy and me, she is now Equal Best Girl in the World to Grandma and Grandpa. And she’s slipped from Best Girl in the World to Second Best Girl in the World to her auntie and uncle. The boys have always shared the position of Best Boy in the World with each other and they’re fine with that. They come as a unit anyway. And they haven’t slipped down anyone’s rankings.

I’m hoping that yesterday was a one-off. I’m hoping that she’s got it out of her system. She loves her cousin and I don’t want jealousy to change that. I think she needs a little bit of attention and reassurance from Grandma and Grandpa. She’s not a spoilt little girl, but she is a little girl who has been used to a fairly privileged position within the family and that has shifted slightly.

Is jealousy of cousins normal? Having never had them in the equation this is entirely new to me. And how best to deal with it to keep everyone happy?

Author: Sarah Mummy

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19 Comments

  1. It is really hard isn’t it……we have noticed it with my niece. My SIL had her daughter unexpectedly not long after we Isaac and as such my MIL has helped her loads, often having M 2 or 3 nights a week.
    When Seb came along and with me having an unexpected c-section my MIL has been over almost everyday to help. M has been here a couple of times with her and we get comments such as “I am Nanny’s favourite”, “Put the baby down Nanny” and “She’s my Nanny” – she is finding it really tough to share and we did have a moment of tears when I had to look after her overnight and she realised she wasn’t the centre of attention. I tried to explain that there are lots of us in this house and we have to share and get along and everyone is loved equally, but I don’t think at 5 she really understood.
    Hope your little girl is ok very soon x

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  2. So painful for a mum to see one of their offspring unhappy. Quite often when one of mine was sobbing I’d have to bite my lip to stop from joining in.
    All you can do is reassure your daughter that she is loved unconditionally and some quality mother/ daughter time probably wouldn’t go amiss.
    My daughters have a female cousin who’s older than them and they’ve always got along famously. I’m sure as your niece gets older, she and your daughter will be the very best of friends.
    Hope she’s feeling better this morning x

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  3. I feel for your daughter, it has obviously been quite overwhelming for her.

    I don’t know if it is common between cousins. I was the youngest of my cousins by 4 years and we didn’t see them very often. At the moment my children only have step cousins who are all older and second cousins who we only see a few times a year. However if they get cousins I will remember your post and make sure I share my attention.

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  4. My youngest was very jealous of her 1st boy cousin. Even though she wasn’t the youngest, she thought of herself as the baby, probably because of the attention she got due to her health problems.
    When my nephew came along she was 3 and, at first, was fascinated by him. But then we noticed that she was always trying to get in his car seat and stealing his dummy.
    As they got older, she refused to even look at him, let alone play with him and he adored her!
    It wasn’t until she started school that she began to accept him and they became very close.
    So don’t worry too much, they’ll probably become the best of friends.
    JB xx

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  5. [sigh] This being-a-parent lark gets tough, doesn’t it? I’m sure, though, that, with comfort and well-chosen words (so hard!) the sadness will fade and a positive memory will remain. In turn, your daughter will grow up to be caring, loving, and kind. Take heart! 🙂

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  6. I think her reaction is totally natural. My sister’s son is quite jealous when my son is around too (he often gets Granny and Grandad all to himself). It’s particular tough for your daughter as her new cousin is also a girl – probably the first bit of family competition she has ever had. A good life lesson to learn. She’ll be fine in time x

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  7. Popping over from pocolo, we are the first in our families to have children so we’ve no experience with cousins but I expect it’s fairly normal. I’m sure she will still love her cousin but it will just take time for her to adapt to sharing loved ones attention. x

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  8. When my cousin was born (when I was aged 8), he suddenly became the focus of our very tight knit family. My younger sister, our parent’s, aunt’s and grandparent’s little princess (aged 5 at the time), found this incredibly difficult. At 25 I still have very vivid memories of her getting upset with my parents in the way that you describe and occasionally lashing out at my little cousin.

    It may be slightly different as my sister is (obviously) a female and my cousin is a he(!) but as time went on, the aggression turned to protectiveness (to the point where she would worry incessantly about him) and eventually a beautiful friendship. Our cousin is now approaching 18 and is truly like a younger brother to us, we’re both looking forward to him taking us out for our first drink together at the pub! He’s going to be an usher at my forthcoming wedding and will be escorting my sister (my maid of honour) down the aisle.

    I can only speak from experience but I believe that this situation will become easier for your daughter as time goes on. Our cousin became the little brother we never had (and perhaps always wanted!), I can only hope that you experience the same.

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  9. Thanks very much for your lovely comments, everyone. Really appreciate you all going into so much detail. I’m pleased to say that although she was still a little down this morning she seems to have cheered up now. We haven’t seen any of the family today, which is probably a good thing.
    That’s interesting about your niece, Kara. My daughter doesn’t spend as much time with her grandparents as that and at least she’s used to sharing with her brothers.
    I’m sure my daughter and her cousin will be the best of friends one day, Izzie. It’s nice for them to be able to grow up together.
    Lovely to hear how the relationship has developed, Anon. Sounds like a similar story to ours. I envisage our niece becoming a bit like a little sister to my kids.

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  10. My niece was extremely jealous of my elder son when he was born (mainly for attention from their nana who is both their favourite person in the world)and now he is extremely jealous of our baby son! It’s all natural – but not easy!

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  11. i think its a pretty normal reaction and one that i think little girls are more prone to than boys. Happens now and again in our house.

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  12. Oh bless her, poor little thing! Trying to explain things to them at this age is so difficult isn’t it. When my sister had her first baby, my daughter was so livid, that she had lost having her aunt and uncle to herself. Now a few years down the line, she is amazing with her little cousins…

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  13. Thanks very much, everyone. It’s reassuring to know that others feel like this – and they get over it! I’m pleased to say that, after a day away, she saw her cousin again today and was absolutely fine! But her eldest brother wasn’t with us and nor were Grandma and Grandpa, so there was less people to cope with.

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  14. Jealousy comes at different stages, I hope the can see a way to understand and not feel jealous.

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  15. Thanks very much, Coombe Mill. I’m pleased to say it seems to have settled down already (fingers crossed). She’s seen her cousin twice since and been completely back to normal.

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  16. Things like this are always difficult. I felt like your daughter on my many occasions being the eldest of 7. It’s good that she has such understanding and loving family around her. Thanks do linking to PoCoLo x

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  17. Thanks very much, Tori. It must have been tough growing up as the eldest of 7! She certainly is lucky to have such a caring family.
    Always a pleasure to link to PoCoLo and thanks for sharing as ever 🙂

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  18. My sister only got married two months ago and I know she wants to have kids herself soon. At the moment mine are the only children in the immediate family here (they do have cousins in New Zealand but we never see them) and I have wondered how they’ll feel when she has her own and they’re not the number ones any more. I suppose it’s very normal to feel a bit jealous – I hope your daughter is feeling better about it all now.

    I was great friends with my cousins as we all got older and I hope that my own children will get to experience that too 🙂

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