If you are not an only child, I propose that you and your siblings did not have the same childhood. None of us had the same view from our living room window. The relationship our siblings have with our mother and father is not the relationship we have, as we are all different. Are you aware that many people in your life molded you into the person you are? Teachers, childhood friends, co-workers, and of course, our parents and siblings.
Let me elaborate on this and show you how this changes the relationship dynamics in families and helps shape future generations for better or worse. Habitually, this has been going on since the beginning of time. It started in the Garden and continued to be a frequent topic. Even Jesus-Yeshua’s family thought he was madly insane, and at one point he acted as if his real family were the people listening to him teach, but what about just regular ole folk like you and me? Did your mom or dad have a favorite? A scapegoat? A mediator? More than likely you fit into one of these categories.
“Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.” Genesis 25:19 NASB. Yes, we see this over and over in scripture, and it causes problems not just for the children un-favored, but for everyone involved. Rebekah even schemed and plotted and had her son disguise himself in order to get the blessing. Isaac’s son Jacob ends up playing favorites with his own children, and he doesn’t seem to hide it from his other sons. As a matter of fact, the text bluntly tells us, “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children” Genesis 37:3. Have you ever felt loved more than all your siblings? Do they tell you that you are the favorite? Or did you feel invisible? An outsider? An attorney?
The jealousy was so toxic concerning Josephs brothers that they discussed over lunch how to kill him. Meanwhile, he waited in the pit they had thrown him in. Can you relate? I guess they had reasons for their jealousy. When your brother is getting a coat of many colors that signifies his ability to prophesy, interpret dreams, and hear from The Father, not only will you be jealous of his favor with God, but his favor with man… and especially when it’s the one man you are trying hard to impress, your earthly father. And if while you are out in the fields working in the heat of the day, he comes prancing along in his colorful coat without a callous on his fingers, you could get irritated. Joseph and Benjamin had a different mother, and Jacob also let us know he was in love with Rachel, but tricked into marrying her sister Leah. He favored one over the other.
Siblings born at different times also have different experiences. For instance, if you were born and raised up pretty good before the divorce, before the job loss, the chronic illness, the financial difficulties, etc., but your younger siblings were at a crucial age when one of these happened, they may see things differently because after all their parents were acting differently. If your parents went in debt, started stressful jobs, had mental breakdowns, addiction issues and so forth, depending on the time or your arrival, you will have a whole different view. I once had a friend who had a five-year-old son, and then just a month or two before he started kindergarten her daughter was born. He thought his mother was sending him away to school because she loved the new baby more and no longer needed him. He cried and cried for the first year of school. Yes, even the age of our siblings affects us.
When I was pregnant with my middle son I cried almost every day, was in a stressful situation and lost my apartment in the 8th month of my pregnancy. Financial stress and a controlling marriage put a strain on me emotionally and physically. I know now that it was not good for my unborn child. When he was a small boy he would cling to me, always wanted to be in my lap, and would follow me around. So many families in the Bible had dysfunction and we see the impact of the differences falling upon their children.
Cain was so jealous of his brother he killed him. Horrific. Can you imagine the shame of seeing your parents after taking the life of their son, your own brother? Amnon, Davids son raped his sister Tamar. David did nothing about it and his other son got tired of waiting and murdered Amnon. Families are full of tragedy, secrets, hurts, wounds, and usually, there is a scapegoat, a mediator, and a favorite. Being the favorite is not always peaches and cream as we see Joseph sitting in a pit, fearing for his life.
Very quickly I am going to define these three terms and I want you to see if you fit in any category. A scapegoat bears the blame and is held responsible for all the things that go wrong regardless of whose fault it is. They suffer in place of the guilty. This doesn’t just happen in childhood but in adulthood as well, and it can occur on the job, in the home, in religious settings, and with peers. One example would be a person on a sports team that gets blamed for losing the game, or one colleague is held responsible for the bad review, the death of a patient, the cashier drawer being short. In families, it’s, even more, heartbreaking for the scapegoat because they take the blunt for moms drinking problems, upsetting dad, the dent in the car door, the house being a mess, the gloomy mood of the family members and on it goes.
Next, we have the mediator, this is usually the middle child but can fall in a different order depending on age difference, and gender, or how the parents view the child. The mediator tries to bring balanced and is usually unbiased. They are fixers and try to smooth out the wrinkles. They make good negotiators, sometimes getting stuck in-between parties involved and especially family drama. At times, this position of mediator falls on the oldest and not the middle child depending on maturity and the disposition of the child.
Last we have the favorite. This child can do no wrong and even if they do it’s not their fault. Most parents favor first born children but other circumstances can cause this title to fall on another birth order. For instance, a child who suffers from a sickness or disability can become the favorite. Also, a child’s gender, personality, intelligence, and so forth, can cause favoritism, as well as their appearance. The Bible says that Rachel was beautiful, but Leah had weak eyes. Jacob favored the appearance of Rachel over Leah.
Children who act out or tend to be mischievous are usually not the favorite. Being disfavored in childhood can carry lasting wounds and heartache into adulthood. Many times parents try to be fair even when they seem drawn to one child more than others. Many problems can occur due to parents giving more financial help to one child, or spending more time with certain grandchildren, making a difference in gifts, birthdays, holidays and so forth. We see clearly that many families in the Bible made a difference in their children and many siblings had jealousy issues.
It’s important to remember that we are special in our own ways and we are always loved by our Father Adonai, our Abba daddy. We all have different gifting. Our role in our family is one we can change at any time. Become more aware of how you fit into your family and how your siblings fit. Take steps to defend yourself if you feel scapegoated. Listen to your heart and ask yourself why you feel the need to be a mediator between your parents and siblings. If you feel like you are the favorite, try and include your siblings in the mix and if you see your parents making a difference in you or your children over your siblings, point it out, bring awareness and lastly, love the child you were and the adult you have become. You are special in God’s eyes even He sent an angel to Hagar and the son of a slave woman and heard their cries.
“God heard the lad crying; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter with you, Hagar? Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.” Genesis 21:17 NASB.