Fighting Favoritism and Jealousy between Siblings

Read through the Bible in 2 years: Genesis 36-37

But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.

Genesis 37:4 ESV

Why are the brothers mad at Joseph because their dad loves him more? That seems so unfair. Isn’t it their father, Jacob’s fault rather than Joseph’s … But, isn’t that the way of man? And Joseph sure didn’t help matters by bragging about his dreams and being the family snitch.

Have you ever hated someone because you’re jealous of them? I have. In high school I always hated the “pretty girls” … though I see now that was rooted in my own insecurity and jealousy.

And what’s up with Jacob making it so obvious that Joseph was his favorite child? That is so heartbreaking…. But also so easy. A parent can naturally get along better with a certain child. Or a certain child may come into your life at a crucial time or in answer to your fervent prayers – like Joseph did – and ends up being preferred.

I wish I could tell you that my family has avoided the scars left by the childhood struggles of jealousy and favoritism, but that simply isn’t true. I have to confess that my children and I have wrestled long and hard through these issues. It’s not pretty, friends, and it has long-term consequences.

Our culture laughs about the issue of “sibling rivalry” as though it’s just a normal and natural part of childhood. It may be normal and natural in this fallen world we live in friends, but it’s certainly not good.

If you find yourself preferring one child over another, this, too, may be normal and natural, but it’s not good.

Let me encourage you to examine yourself first. Start with you. I believe that a big root cause of sibling rivalry is parental partiality. Do you have some children who are rebellious and other children who are compliant? Do you have one child who demands lots of extra time while your other children easily fade into the background? Watch yourself!

Let me share two ways that I tried hard to help fight favoritism and jealousy in my household.

“Day of the Week”

In our family, each child had one day to call their own. On their day, they got to be the one who picked a game at lunch. That child was the one who prayed over our meal, who picked the bedtime story, who got to ride in the front seat. Wherever there was a choice to be made that day, they got to pick it.

Over the years the day of the week varied a little depending on our family’s schedule, but usually our oldest child got Monday, our second child got Tuesday, our third child got Wednesday, I got Thursday (because this was a busy day for us so there were less choices to be made), and our fourth child got Friday. (Saturday was a family day and Daddy got Sunday.)

Weekly Date Nights

The other thing we did was weekly date nights. It was usually on a Friday night, but not always. The first Friday of the month was for our first child, second Friday was for our second child, third Friday for our third child, and the fourth Friday for our fourth child. My husband and I took turns taking out the kids, so every other month each child had a date with mom and the other month with dad. This intentionality and regularity helped each of our kids to stay connected with each of their parents.

What ideas do you have to fight Favoritism and Jealousy? I’d love to hear them. Leave a comment below.

Will you pray with me?

Heavenly Father,

Sibling rivalry has been around since there were siblings. The first murder was between two brothers and it was rooted in jealousy.

Please, Father, help us as parents to love each of our children fully and with all our hearts. Help us to recognize where we are falling short in this area and to confess and repent.

Lord, each of our children are unique and we naturally gravitate towards one or another.

You know our hearts. You know our motives. You know if they are right or if they are wrong. Feather, we confess our sin to You and ask Uou to forgive us and to create a right heart in us. We pray You would heal whatever scars our children have as a result of our own sin – our own feelings and actions rooted in partiality or favoritism.

We pray that You would heal any scars of bitterness or jealousy in our children. No matter their age. It is never too late. We thank you Lord for the blessing it is to have siblings and pray that You would use this unique bond to richly bless our children.

In the name of Jesus Christ who sticks closer than a brother, Amen

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