Dear Modern Mama,
Long ago, before any children or favoritism, I moved from far away to marry my husband Isaac. My father-in-law Abraham sent his servant back to their country of origin and that’s where he found me. All I did was offer a drink of water to a weary traveler and his camels, but that hospitality answered a specific prayer of Abraham’s servant. (Check out Genesis 24 for details of God’s miracle.)
Although Isaac and I loved each other, I did not get pregnant after almost twenty years of marriage. They called me barren, but Isaac prayed for me to conceive and God answered Isaac’s prayer. God answered with a two-for-one miracle, but the pregnancy felt awful. Like a war between twins in my belly! I wanted to die. Didn’t think I could take it much longer, so I asked the Lord about it.
When the Lord confirmed the conflict inside of me, He said it would extend throughout my twins’ lives. Two babies, two nations, two peoples. They would be divided, with one stronger than the other and the elder serving the younger. Isaac and I didn’t really understand the entire prophecy, but it made sense later as we raised our boys.
From birth on, the boys were opposites. Our oldest, Esau, had red hair on a hairy body. He loved the outdoors and developed good hunting skills. As a tough hunter, Esau became Isaac’s favorite. They loved to eat wild game and talk about hunting. My Jacob had a quieter nature and liked to stay home. I loved having him around the tent to keep me company; you could say I favored him.
Esau and Jacob fought a lot, mostly because they were so different. Once Esau came in hungry after a long day outside and demanded some of the stew Jacob had cooked over the fire. (Did I mention that my Jacob was a great cook?!) Jacob insisted that Esau sell his birthright in exchange for the stew. In desperation, Esau traded his privileges as the oldest son for Jacob’s bread and lentil stew. Not a fair trade, but no one could change the outcome of their decisions.
Other battles followed. My favoritism toward Jacob progressed to a desperate desire to get the birthright blessings for him. I sinned against God and my family as I lowered myself to lie, cheat, and even betray my husband. I am ashamed of the treachery that I encouraged in Jacob when my dear Isaac lay on his deathbed. (Genesis 27 tells the full story.) Our sins only worsened the family conflicts, sibling rivalry, and long-term consequences.
My advice to you, modern mama, is to avoid favoritism. Recognize your child’s unique nature as a gift from God. Our Creator God gives children different skills, character traits, and interests. Do not let that determine how much you love your child or what you will do for him. Take it from me, the consequences of favoritism and deceitful maneuvering to get advantages for your child will only cause heartache—for a long time! I learned that lesson the hard way.
Trust my advice: the best way to parent your children is to follow God’s way and love all of your children wholeheartedly.
Shalom, in your relationship with God and also in your parenting.