Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. Genesis 25:28
Parents must love all their children equally. They must also love them cooperatively, which means working together to show their love to their children. Isaac and Rebekah made a terrible mistake by favoring one child over the other. They took sides. They showed partiality, and the result was a life-long rivalry between Jacob and Esau. The conflict continued for generations to come between Jacob’s descendants, the Israelites, and Esau’s descendants, the Edomites.
Think of how the lack of his father’s affection injured Jacob. Later on Jacob would play the same partiality game with his own children, nearly costing his son, Joseph, his life. Perhaps his mother’s indifference doomed Esau to look for love in the wrong places as he married pagan women who brought grief to Isaac and Rebekah.
Parents naturally respond more to some aspects of a child. Maybe they share a common interest, temperament, or personality. We should be thankful for those bonds, but at the same time work at developing close relationships with our children that are different from us. We must show unconditional love – not based on anything the child does, or how the child looks, but completely on our God-given responsibility as mother or father. This kind of love is more often an action than an emotion.
Jacob and Esau share some of the blame for the conflict between them. Jacob ambitiously took advantage of his brother and bought the older brother’s birthright privilege, ensuring that Jacob would receive the greater blessing from his father. Esau cared less about his family and looked for enjoyment by himself in the wild places. He cared less about his birthright and more about his appetite. God knew these boys before their birth, and made plans for them according to their natures, but they were still driven by the divide between their parents.