Saturday, April 17, 2010


“Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.” -Gen. 25:28

It’s always interesting having siblings. The origin of the word “sibling” is closely related to a German word Sippe that means “kindred.” But brothers and sisters can be anything but kindred when there is difficulty in the family. Wise parents recognize the potential for conflict and love their children equally.

Deep inside we all vie for the attention and approval of our parents. When that approval is questioned or difficult, there can be pretty intense competition in the family for their blessing. Sibling rivalry is a real deal and its intensity needs to be addressed if it flares up too much.

What is not real is birth order predispositions. There has never been a definitive study to support any conclusions regarding birth order. There are authoritarian youngest kids and oldest children that are more reserved.

I grew up with 3 older brothers. I love them very much. My oldest brother, Pelham, is 10 years older than I am. He was the one who took care of me. He was the one who always chose me for his team when the 4 brothers played basketball. If my other brothers, Mark or Bob, messed with me, he was the one who stepped in and stood up for me. I loved having him around. The 4 of us are similar in some ways- driven, focused, intense, lovers of history and a bit headstrong, but we are different too, with unique talents and gifting. I admire and appreciate Pel, Marc and Bob so much.

I credit my mom and dad for doing a great job as parents. Mostly, they get credit for navigating 4 boys safely through the teenage years. They helped avoid rivalry between the brothers by appreciating all of our unique accomplishments and not playing “favorites.” They attended our activities with equal enthusiasm, whether we won or lost. They focused on the unique potential in each one of us.

How are you doing with your sons and daughters? Playing favorites is natural, just ask Rebekah who played favorites with Jacob and ruined his life. All of our kids are a gift from God. Sure, your temperament may click naturally with a particular son or daughter, but pray for the capacity to love your kids without partiality. Ask the Lord to give you the agape love that He has for His children- a graceful love that blesses without conditions.

I think you’ll find that as you “shower” your kids equally with love, you’ll help produce brothers and sisters that love and appreciate each other.

By Joseph Staples ©

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