I think even most non Christians could tell you the story of Esau and Jacob which appears in Genesis 27. Two brothers who on paper appear complete opposites, Esau, a red man, a man of the earth who was a Hunter. Jacob a man of the tents, a deceiver, who was promised that his older brother would serve him. (Genesis 25:23)
It all sounds so simple doesn’t it? We are naturally inclined to favour the poor gullible Esau who was tricked out of his birth right. You feel sympathy for Isaac, practically blind wanting to bless his son and you merrily tie the whole thing in a bow and frown on Rebekah, his wife no less, conniving with her younger son.
If only it were only that simple, but families never are and these four are a stark representation of a dysfunctional family to say the least. If you think your family has problems look at what Isaac and Rebekah created and you will count yourself lucky!
Where my family wasn’t warring over birth rights or fighting over stew I have witnessed the destruction parental favouritism can have on a family.
My Dad was the youngest in his family and had an older sister and the manipulation of these two individuals by their parents was shocking to say the least. I didn’t really know what was going over as a young girl visiting her grandparents, I only knew we were always to be on our best behaviour. Then time passed, I grew up and I saw clearly the family dynamics. My Dad was craving full acceptance from his parents, he would list his achievements for instance at work, or something he had taught my sister and I, he would be available to help his parents – take them on a shopping trip, change their light bulbs, remember their favourite foods. Yet it was never good enough for them because they had their eldest daughter- she rarely visited and she didn’t do the things that my Dad did for his parents, but it didn’t matter, she was their favourite and that was that. I heard stories from my Dad’s youth, his birthday was the 21st December he got birthday presents or Christmas presents that was his choice to make, his sister however got both of course.
So resentment grew between the two, they grew up disposed to compete with one another – who got the best grades? who had children? who had the best achievements in the work place?
I wish this story had a happy ending and perhaps my sister and I are that, for my Dad I hope he had some peace in the knowledge he was loved by his two daughters.
You see the story doesn’t end all that well, having never known true love and acceptance from his parents my father sought comfort from other things and had an unhealthy relationship with food. Food doesn’t reject you, Food doesn’t say “Your Sister is better than you” it passes no comment and has no jibes.
My Father passed away 6 years ago, from a blood clot linked to him being extremely overweight.
I watched as my Aunt visited the days after he passed away, she didn’t know what to say and what could she say? I would not have wanted to be in her position in the aftermath of a death from a brother I didn’t know.
I watched my grandparents wracked with guilt, whether they chose to admit it or not, they knew their failings in that moment of being told that news.
These lives we are entrusted by God with as parents are so precious, how you treat your children now will affect them in the future, how they feel about themselves, how they value themselves, what their impression is of the world and those around them.
One of my friends is a Children’s Ministry leader, she often tells parents on our Baby Dedication Days that by age 7 your children’s values, idea, thought patterns have been set. Age 7. Children learn from watching and feeling way more than you lecturing and telling so it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that at age 7 how your child feels about themselves and others is well on the way to be established.
Its a joyous blessing being a parent but it is a narrow road to walk when you have two or more equally precious children. I pray should I be blessed with another child that I would celebrate them together, have them share in one another’s achievements and console one another in their disappointments.
I know that is what my sister has always like been with me.