Common Love & Unique Relationships

English: Esau Sells His Birthright for Pottage...
English: Esau Sells His Birthright for Pottage of Lentils; illustration from the 1728 Figures de la Bible; illustrated by Gerard Hoet (1648-1733) and others, and published by P. de Hondt in The Hague; image courtesy Bizzell Bible Collection, University of Oklahoma Libraries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chapter-a-Day Genesis 25

Isaac loved Esau because he enjoyed eating the wild game Esau brought home, but Rebekah loved Jacob. Genesis 25:28 (NLT)

In the discussion of families and family systems, the subject of “favorites” comes up a lot. I have witnessed in many families that there is a clear ranking of favorites in the truest sense of the word – in which one child receives a greater amount of favor at the expense of the children. Sometimes, however, the way parents show favor can be incongruent. I know one family in which the rebellious child, with whom the parent struggled, was granted more favor at the expense of the other children because of the parent’s guilt with not getting along with him. It can get messy.

In my own experience as grandchild, child, sibling and parent, I’ve found that relationships between family members are really no different than relationships in your broader social circle. There are some family members with whom you relate easily. There’s a natural affinity, personalities and temperaments are similar, there are common interests and world-views, and etc. Notice that Isaac’s love of Esau hinged on a common love for wild game. In fact, I’ve come to realize that it’s wrong for me expect that a genetic or experiential family relationship would create some kind of emotionally unilateral relationship between all of the members. We are human after all.

My mother has often said that the love she had for each of her four children was equal, but her relationship with each child was as unique as the child him/herself. Well said, mom. I’ve come to accept that the relationship between family members can be very different while the love with which you share and act pours out and washes over each from a common inner reservoir. When it comes to children, it is my role as a father to love each of my children fully and to love each child well despite the diverse differences between them, their personalities, and the course that each relationship takes.

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