I posted this quote on the ModernManOfTheCloth’s Facebook page the other day; ‘In The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us, Jeffrey Kluger wrote: ‘It is my belief that 95 per cent of the parents in the world have a favourite child, and the other five per cent are lying’
The response was great. Here are a two things that people said;
‘I have 3 grown kids and I work with kids..I really do not have a favorite but there are things about each of them that I find special and connect with. I like to think I have always treated them equally and have been very conscious not to ever ‘compare’…ie” Why can’t you be more like your sister??” There are traits I admire in all my kids and also things I do not find particularly admirable. I am sure they would say the same about me.’ —Nancy
“Interesting topic and one I personally see all the time! I think it’s natural to be drawn to one over another due to personalities but it’s one of my parenting goals for none of my children to ever feel they “not the favorite” I see how much it can hurt and damage a person even as an adult. I hope I can show my kids they are always equally loved for their differences. That’s my two cents anyways’ — Amanda
The reason I posted this on Facebook is we have started looking at the life of Joseph here at Sackville United Baptist. The story opens with these words, ‘Now [Jacob] loved Joseph more than any of his other sons…when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.’
As the story progresses things go from bad to worse. Joseph starts bragging about dreams he has that indicate he will rule over his older brothers and his parents. His brothers became so angry that they plot to kill him. Joseph was spared death because his oldest brother intervened. However Joseph ended up sold into Egyptian slavery. Joseph’s story continues from this point but that is as far as we took the lesson on Sunday.
I think there are three great principles that we can learn from this part of the story;
1. Overt Favoritism Will Definitely Damage Your Family– Jacob seemingly went out of his way to make sure his entire family knew that he loved Joseph more than anyone else. This is a recipe for disaster. While it may be natural to more easily connect with one child over another that is no reason to favour them. I have talked with a number of people who are sure one of their siblings was the favorite and it damaged their sense of self worth, self identity, and the long term relationship they had with with parents.
2. No One Likes A Bragger– Joseph should have learned to fly under the radar a little better. His brothers already didn’t like him, bragging about how much more awesome he was than they were didn’t change their opinions. Even within healthy relationships bragging is hard to tolerate. If you do something impressive hopefully your family wants to celebrate with you. But give them the chance. Bragging steals the opportunity for them to give you real praise.
3. Envy Will Consume You If You Let It– Joseph’s brothers were very envious of their little brother. The sad thing was most of them were successful in their own right and already had families of their own. But all they could focus on was Joseph. The more they let their envy bubble the more angry they became. While it is highly unlikely our children will try to sell off each other; it is not inconceivable if we favoured one over the others that a major, perhaps permanent rift would form between them. Let’s not make our children compete for our affirmation.
When Genesis 37 closes Jacob believes his favorite son is dead, Joseph is in chains heading to Egypt and Joseph’s brother’s are trying to pick up the pieces of their father’s heart. This chapter of the story closes on a sad and uncertain tones but the story doesn’t end here. Maybe you grew up in a home not so dissimilar from Joseph’s and you feel like you have been rejected and sold off. Since you are here reading this I can honestly say your story isn’t over yet either. God wasn’t finished with Joseph and he isn’t finished with you either.
**This Blog is a much altered version of my sermon last Sunday. You can hear the full sermon here.**