Children are People Too

Children are People Too

Parents may say they love all of their children the same, and most people would agree they should; but it isn't uncommon for families to have issues with favoritism, creating hurtful comparisons between children in the home and/or with children outside the home. This can negatively impact children's sense of worth and confidence: by leading them to undervalue themselves, if they are negatively compared to someone else; or by leading children to overvalue themselves when they are praised above others. Neither of these scenarios is good. Not all children are the same, and that may tempt parents to show more affection to the child that is most like themselves; but they should be careful not to. The Torah speaks of a case like this.

"So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob" (Genesis 25:27-28). Those familiar with this story know that the parents' favoritism, based on the different accomplishments and personalities of their children, tore the family apart because the father refused to acknowledged the child that should have been acknowledged with a blessing. And Esau became bent on revenged for losing the birthright his father unwisely flattered himself with the possibly of having that he should not have been offered in the first place. The mother encouraged laying aside moral principles to try to get her favorite son ahead, while the father seemed to overlook the moral issues in the life of Esau and God's commands in order to try to bless him anyway.

It was a mess. The parents also ended up separated from one of their sons, who left home due to the conflict, while the remaining son was upset over the events of losing his perceived status which he thought belonged to him although it never did in reality. Yet many parents seem none the wiser from this lesson. Parents are often blinded to mistakes by their own desires for their children, however well-meaning they may be. One pit many parents seem to fall into (with horrible result)s is wanting their children to be just like themselves, only valuing their child's decisions that seem to follow in their own footsteps or their own childhood dreams, instead of valuing their children as individuals with decisions and dreams of their own. Parents should learn to value people who are not like them and who do not share their personal interests, understanding that children are people, not pets.

If you don't learn to love your children as individuals and treat them as such -- rather than possessions who do what you want -- you may end up trying to force what you think is a blessing on the wrong child by encouraging a child in a path that isn't suited for him or her. You may end up trying to get the right child to get a good thing for him or her in the wrong way; you may end up alienating yourself from your own child. If your child does not feel that they can be themselves around you, they may feel the only option is to stay away from you; and that is not ideal. Parents must learn to be reasonable and respect their children's right to individuality; I am not talking about sinful behavior, but personality. Remember as a parent the burden of your heart should not be to teach your child or children to be just like you and like what you like, but to be like the Lord. "'And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children'" (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

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