Summary: Bible Couples, Pt. 3 "Isaac and Rebekah"
A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK (GEN 27:1-46)
To relatives and friends, guessing who the favorite child in the family is not difficult. Growing up, my sister was daddy’s girl. The family included two boys and a sister in the middle, each a year apart, but my youngest son status was in vain.
The stark reminder of who the golden child is in Asia usually occurs every festive occasion. At the Chinese New Year dinner time, my saliva would drip at the sight of every child’s favorite part of the boiled fresh chicken – the drumstick – and but my heart would sigh knowing on whose bowl it would land on. My father would use his chopsticks and lift the first piece and the masterpiece from the plate before anyone could dig in, sticking to the same old text as he explained to the boys: “Sister is a girl, the middle child; so she deserves the drumstick.” The boys would alternate the other drumstick, but it usually ended up on my brother’s bowl, because he wore the eldest son mantle in the family and because I had no voice in the family. I would sit glumly, act brave but fume inside. The subtle rejection was another blow to a child whose parents were divorced. Drumsticks were not the blame, the lack of self-esteem, security and status in the family was.
Favoritism in the family is common, subtle, hurtful and destructive. Francine Klagsbrun in her 1992 book “Mixed Feelings” by Bantam reported that 84% of 272 people surveyed said one or both of their parents had shown favoritism when they were growing up. Only 16% deny that (p. 14). In the case of a perceived doting mother, 66% of the men compared to only 27% of the women felt favored by her. In the case of an accused father, however, 62 percent of women, compared to a higher 49 percent of the men felt they were favored. When respondents did not choose themselves as favorites, they tend to choose a brother over a sister as Mom’s favorite and a sister over a brother as Dad’s favorite (p. 108). 43% felt “secured” when favored by their fathers and 36% felt so when favored by mothers, in contrast to only 3 or 4% who felt “secured” when they perceived a brother or sister is favored (p. 171-2). The twist in the study is that 13% favored by father also felt “resentful” and a higher 18% favored by mother resented the burden (p. 174).
The favoritism Isaac showed Esau and Rebekah to Jacob is one of the best-known stories in the Bible. The guilty party was the parents, not the children, but the burden was passed on the children and the behavior picked up by the children. What can spouses do to raise healthy children? What kind of godly and moral character and example do you leave behind for your children? How are you preparing your children for their growth and independence?
The More Communication You have, the Least Concern There is
27:1 When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son and said to him, "My son." "Here I am," he answered. 2 Isaac said, "I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death. 3 Now then, get your weapons--your quiver and bow--and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. 4 Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die."
A reader who identified herself as Marlene’s daughter wrote to Dear Abby after she had barely lost her mother to a lengthy illness, and told the columnist of her parents’ beautiful marriage that sparkled almost fifty years. She never heard them say an angry word at each other. While sorting through her mother’s papers she came across the “Rules for a Happy Marriage” saying the mother had kept. She did not know how long she got it or when she had it, but she passed the advice to other readers:
1. Never both be angry at the same time.
2. Never yell at each other unless the house is on fire.
3. If one of you has to win an argument, let it be your mate.
4. If you must criticize, do it lovingly.
5. Never bring up mistakes of the past.
6. Neglect the whole world rather than each other.
7. Never go to sleep with an argument unsettled.
8. At least once every day say a kind or complimentary word to your life partner.
9. When you have done something wrong, admit it and ask for forgiveness.
10. It takes two to make a quarrel, and the one in the wrong usually is the one who does the most talking. (Dear Abby 2/1/96)