Parental Favouritism In Christian Homes

Parental Favouritism In Christian Homes

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Favouritism or partiality in families may be unavoidable but its divisive effects should be minimised. Parents may not be able to change their feelings towards a favourite child but they can change their feelings towards a favourite child but they can change their actions towards others.

In James 2:1-7, acts of partiality or favouritism were condemned but we act against this biblical injunction in our various families in oneway or the other. God views all people as equals and if he favours anyone, it is the poor and the powerless. Favouritism is against the biblical definition of love.


Children can ell whether mummy or daddy is being a favourite. When a parent shows favouritism on one child over another serious conflicts can develop in a family. For instance, all the three patriarchal families had problems with parental favouritism due to one selfish reason or the other:

Sarah favoured Isaac because of jealousy toward Hagar (Gen. 21:9-10) and this led to conflict between Abraham and Sarah over Ishmael’s fate (Gen. 21:11-12).

Isaac favoured Esau because Esau was a hunter and Isaac loved meat (Gen. 25:28). This led to conflict between Jacob and Esau over their father’s blessings (Gen. 27:41-45).

Jacob favoured Joseph as mentioned before and this led to conflict between him and his brothers (Gen. 37: 3-4; 1 Sam. 21) and they eventually sold him to Median merchants.

These cases cited above have revealed conflicts upon conflicts instead of the ideal brotherly love. The conflicts aided and abetted by parents degenerate into brotherly conflicts and family wars: Isaac and Ishmael; Jacob and Esau; Rachael and Leah; Joseph and his brothers and David’s children instead of the ideal brotherly love. These conflicts are even evident today in our various homes because of the roles some parents play in what may be termed “divided love”.


As mentioned earlier, let us try to give answers to some questions raised above:

i. Is it possible for parents to love all their children equally?

No. The existence of some natural endowments/differences that exist in children such as intelligence, special talents, facial appearance, the height that may be like that of the mother or father, the stature and other qualities that may attract either of the parents to the children are imminent in the children. All these in some cases tend to make the parents have unequal love on the children.

ii. Is special love by a parent for some children or a child a sin?

No. Special love in the context of our topic is not a sin but the way or manner of its display may be a sin. So, this calls for a serious caution on the way we display the special love.

iii. Are there ways we can pretend that we do not love a child more than the others when the actual love on the children s not equal?

There are many ways we can display this special love on our children without other children knowing about it. We can treat them equally by purchasing the same items (clothes, take-away, shoes, ties etc.) and punishing them equally without showing the special love at the time.

iv. Why do parents show partiality or favouritism to their children?

Partiality or favouritism is shown on our children because of the comparative or competitive advantage they have over others. Such advantages range from obedience, service-oriented (not service), cleanliness, intelligence, ability to listen to instructions, ability to carry out given assignments, using common sense, not being involved in street playing, stealing and other dirty games.

v. What can parents do to avoid or discourage this partial love?

The parents can do a lot to avoid partial love or treat their children equally by buying them the same clothes or the equivalents, placing them in the same school, using the same vehicle to carry them to church, ensuring that they do everything together including eating, staying in rooms of the same standards etc.

vi. Why should parents allow love to grow cold in the family or allow conflicts among the children in their families?

Parents allow conflicts to exist among their children because they do not want to hold the favoured child responsible for nay problem and also do not understand that it may degenerate into squabbles later. Parents should avoid children fighting among themselves or allow conflicts that will bedevil their activities. For love to grow cold in families, there are little wrong things that have been going on between and children that are no longer condoned as in Joseph’s and his brothers case. If the favoured child begins to show others that he has more powers over them or the parents’ backing. The love that binds the family together will begin to wane or grow cold in the family and this will lead to a lot of problems then and thereafter.


Parents must be able to do quite a few things to arrest this situation and create a conducive and conflict-free brotherly co-existence in our families.

Do not show favouritism – it is rue that you ay enjoy one child at a time more than the others, either because the child has a preference in one area or the other, abilities, interests, hobbies, children can be treated with fairness or identically.

Our children must be loved fully, individually and abundantly the same way God loves us and as God is not a respecter of persons. He gave us children to treat the same way he treats us.

Exert your parental authority on your children when they develop negative attributes or become hurtful or unkind to others (Deut. 6:6-9).

Teach your children that fighting is not the best way to settle quarrels.

Do not give special gifts to some of your children at the expense of others.

Favoured children should not be handled in such a way that the unfavoured ones are maltreated or openly disregarded.

It may seem impossible for parents to mete out equal treatment to their children considering the fact that a lot of differences exist between the children in different areas of their human endeavour- education, business, talents, services, obedience, brightness etc., but the negative effects quite outweigh the positive effects. Differences even exist in the children’s facial appearance, height and stature and these also get them attracted or detested by one parent or the other. These therefore call for careful parent-child relationship in order not to give others a wrong impression of an assumed love affair or love-hate situation in the family. Parents must therefore be careful as well as children in handling the issue of parental favouritism. If it is well handled, a conducive and favourable atmosphere will always be available for a Christian family in spite of all other odds.

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write by Thekla

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