In my last post, The Dangers of Child Centered Parenting, I mentioned that children who always get what they want will not be prepared for the real world. But what happens to us, as parents, when our child is the center of our universe?
Let’s look at the story of Isaac and Rebekah and how they raised Jacob and Esau. If children remain the center of our lives, calamity always follows.
Isaac and Rebekah. It’s recorded for us in Genesis 24:67 that Isaac loved Rebekah deeply. This is unique because we have no other written account that couples loved each other in scripture. We can assume as much, but it’s not specifically written.
After they were married, they had 2 sons. As they grew, each son became the center of the other’s world.
“As the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter. He was an outdoorsman, but Jacob had a quiet temperament, preferring to stay at home. Isaac loved Esau because he enjoyed eating the wild game Esau brought home, but Rebekah loved Jacob.”Genesis 25:27-28
This would have naturally led to a rivalry between the two brothers. They most likely competed for their parents love.
Eventually, it became time for Isaac to pass down the birthright to Esau. It’s hard for us to understand this concept because we don’t practice this in our culture. We usually divide our things up evenly between all our children in our wills. But this was more than just inheriting the family estate; it was actually the right to be in what would become Jesus’ lineage. The right to receive the promise that God had bestowed on Abraham.
Before their birth, they had been told by God that the younger would serve the older. Even though Jacob was younger than Esau (only by a few seconds because they were twins) he was to receive the family blessing and rule over his older brother.
So when Isaac wanted to bless Esau (because he loved him) – Rebekah came up with a plan to steal the blessing for Jacob (because she loved him). Esau became the center of Isaac’s world – so much so that he either forgot or didn’t believe God’s promise that Jacob would rule over Esau. And Jacob became the center of Rebekah’s world so much that she thought God had either forgotten or thought God wasn’t capable of fulfilling his promise on his own – so she took matters into her own hands.
When our kids are the center of our world – we dismiss all other relationships – our friends, our spouse, and sometimes even God.
The story goes on. Jacob tricks Isaac into giving him the blessing. Esau is rightfully upset and seeks to kill Jacob. Rebekah has to send Jacob away in order to save his life – and she never sees him again. She dies while he is away.
And no doubt, when Jacob left, she was upset. He was her world. Think about the tension it would have created in the family dynamic – both between Isaac and Rebekah and between Rebekah and Esau.
Develop good relationships with all of your children. Even when it’s hard. Even when they annoy you – because, yes, it will happen. Sometimes our personalities don’t mesh – but try that much harder. Try not to show favoritism.
One way to do that is by making sure you are saving room for other relationships, other hobbies – taking care of yourself, and making sure you equip yourself spiritually every single day to take on the responsibility of being a parent. Because one day, hopefully, your child will leave and you need to still have a life when they are gone.
When God it the center of your world – and not your children – everyone benefits. Rebekah gave up everything – the opportunity to be a good wife, a good mother to Esau, and her ability to trust that God would do what he had promised. It proved devastatingly painful in her later years. Don’t lose sight of what is important.
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