Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Are You Playing Favorites?

Yesterday I talked about two sons: Jacob and Esau. Here is another part of that story. (And it isn't just a story; it is part of Jewish history.) The mother of the two boys, Rebekah, had a favorite son. She loved Jacob. Scripture doesn't tell us why he was her favorite, but he was. Esau was his father's favorite.

Have you ever felt that you were the least favored child in your family? If so, you know the problems that favoritism caused between you and your siblings. Esau was a hairy man while Jacob had smooth skin. Isaac loved Esau because Isaac loved venison. Esau not only took care of the sheep, but also would go hunting. (There were other unnamed children who also took care of the sheep.) Rebekah took pride in Jacob's garden. (The name Esau has two meanings: rough-skinned, and rough in character. Jacob means heel-catcher or supplanter, usurper.)

When Isaac lay dying on his bed he told his hairy son, Esau, to go kill a deer and make him some venison stew, his favorite meal. Isaac was blind and could only tell his sons apart by the feel of their skin and their voices. While Esau went hunting Rebekah told her favorite son, Jacob, to go kill a goat and make stew. She would make it taste like venison. She used the skin of the goat to cover Jacob's arms and the back of his neck in order to trick Isaac into thinking he was Esau. So when Jacob brought in the bowl of stew, Isaac was surprised at quickly it was made, and he thought the voice was that of Jacob. But when he felt Jacob's arms and the back of his neck he thought he must be mistaken and gave Jacob the blessing that he had intended to give Esau.

When Esau returned with his bowl of venison stew and learned that Jacob had received the blessing, and there was no blessing left for him, he nearly went crazy. He threatened to kill Jacob.

When we play favorites with our children we cause hatred, anger, and bitterness, which can lead to murder. Do we want our children to grow up to carry this kind of weight in their hearts? You may get along better with one. You may connect better with one. But it is vital that you treat them all with the same amount of love and consideration. Of course all kids say, "You love him/her more than me" when they don't get their way. This is an opportunity for you to help them understand why they don't get the same privilege, allowance, or benefit as another. It must be explained with patience and consideration for their feelings. It doesn't mean you give in to them.

Don't create a rift between your kids.

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