Sibling rivalry in a family is normal, and handling it calls for sensitivity and wisdom. Unfortunately Isaac and Rebekah lacked those two qualities. ‘Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.’ (Genesis 25:28 NKJV) Joseph’s troubles began with these words: ‘Now [Jacob] loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.’ (Genesis 37:3 KJV)
But it doesn’t have to be that way in your family. It’s neither necessary nor healthy to allow your children to attack each other and make life miserable for those around them. You may not be able to harmonise their relationship entirely but, by practising impartiality, at least you can avoid making it worse. Don’t inflame the natural jealousies between your children. Ever since time began, siblings have resented each other’s successes and competed for their parents’ attention.
So you must be careful to avoid casual comments that favour one child over another, especially in these three areas:
(1) Physical attractiveness
(3) Skills and athletic abilities
Those are the three raw nerves on which self-esteem hangs. Referring to a girl as ‘my pretty daughter’ or to a son as ‘the smart one’ can set off raging emotions in other children, who perceive themselves to be ugly or dumb. Sensitivity in those areas will reduce the antagonism between your children and create a more harmonious tone for every member of the family. Paul told Timothy, ‘Obey these instructions without taking sides or showing favouritism to anyone.’ (1 Timothy 5:21 NLT)
That was a ‘church rule’, but it should also be a ‘house rule’!