Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Parents playing favorites.


27    When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the field, but Jacob was a peaceful man, living in tents.
28    Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Genesis 25:27-28

There are very real dangers to parenting, and Isaac and Rebekah demonstrate one of the worst of them: playing favorites. Their twin sons were literally answers to prayer for them. I am sure they loved them, but over time, as each boy developed a unique personality, each parent gravitated toward a favorite son. And the results would mark their lives and affect generations.

Isaac loved the rugged outdoor hunter Esau. There was something especially appealing to him about a boy who became such a skilled hunter and provider. I have to confess that the man in me would find myself attracted to that as well. Quieter boys are harder to get to know. The rugged outdoorsman was most appealing to Isaac.

Rebekah on the other hand loved her quiet and reflective boy Jacob. He stayed around the tents. He was more of a manager, and as we will see, a shrewd deal-maker. And from the text, we also see that he was a skilled chef who could cook up a mean pot of lentil stew. So he had his own personality that his mother found attractive. But as the parents drew toward the sons, they found themselves unwittingly pitting themselves and their sons against each other.

I have two children. They are unique in their personalities and I need to be careful that I don’t only feel drawn to one over the other. One is quiet and withdrawn… a deep thinker… a poet… and an emotional processor. The other is happy-go-lucky, a social butterfly with many friends, a constantly busy joker, less emotional unless it is telling a joke, and a wildly gifted musician. Fortunately, I find myself drawn to both of them in unique ways, but I need to be careful not to exalt one over the other. They sense if I am spending more attention on one over the other and they let me know! So Isaac and Rebekah serve as warning posts for careful parenting.

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