Critical Reflective Essay

Parent-children Relationships


Institutional affiliations:


Different parents have their different ways of relating and dealing with their kids. You will find one parent who has more than one kid, and they treat all of them differently. In the world, disobedience from complicated to parents usually makes relationships harder. This essay will compare how the different parent-children relationships serve as lessons to today’s parents and children. In the Bible, there are various relationships from one family to the other. Some relationships between parents and their children are encouraging while others seem difficult. Either way, these relationships have an almost similar reflection to today’s parent-children relationships. In the Bible, some parents related well with their kids and both parents and children of the world today have an example to emulate or one they can identify with (Oakes, Lipton, Anderson, & Stillman, 2015). Besides, there are difficult relationships in the Bible which the parents and children of today have something to learn from. The story of Rebekah and her two sons, Esau and Jacob, will be used to portray both important and challenging relationships. Those who wish to train their children to obey have an example from the Prodigal son’s text. For parents who favor some children over their brothers and sisters can learn from Rebekah, the mother of Esau.

The customs – prodigal son’s story.

In the New Testament, Luke 15: 11-32, the story of the prodigal son is given in details concerning the younger son who went against not only the authority of the father but the community. There are two kinds of customs for the Jewish people of the first century which had a significant effect on the kind of relationship that the prodigal son had with his father. First of all, the son vacated from home after he asked for his inheritance at the wrong time only to misuse it all. It was not allowed for a father to share his belongings before his old age nearing death. (Hempenius, 2015). The younger son portrayed rebellion to the culture and also to his father by insisting that he wanted his share before the time was right. With this kind of disobedience to the Father and the customs, the younger son made the relationship between his father and self; difficult. It is not easy to deal with a child of yours that heeds no ear to the teachings of the community or yours as the parent. Thus with this kind of rebellion, it typically became a challenging parent-child relationship. When the father ran towards his lost son to welcome him back, he went against the custom of the then Jewish tradition. Any man was not supposed to show his barefoot and saw it would be shameful. The father bore the shame, by running (Luke 15:20), so as to save his son from being disowned by the community. His sacrifice displays another kind of parent-child relationship which can be termed as loving or read as helpful to many parents in the world today.

Prodigal son and the father.

When the prodigal son asked for his inheritance from his father it was wrong of him (Luke 15:12) He out rightly showed not only disobedience but also lack respect to his father and the community. His rebellion was an embarrassment to the father as he went to waste all the inheritance he asked for. He can be viewed as a rebellious and hard to deal with child by any parent. On the other hand, the Prodigal son also portrays respect and humility towards his father at the end of the text when he realized his mistakes and went to seek for forgiveness. His repentance shows humility and honor to a parent, and thus another kind of parent-child relationship is portrayed

When you consider the father, you may want to use his treatment of the son for another kind of parent-children relationship. For the father to agree to share his inheritance before his proper time, two kinds of virtues are portrayed for the existing parent-child relationship. The father could have chosen not to give out the inheritance to his younger son, but he decided otherwise. By so doing, he puts his son into the risk of wasting himself as he knew he was a spendthrift. If the father had no enough knowledge concerning his son’s reckless behavior of overspending, it could be read as his ignorance of his parental obligations. If he knew his son was a spendthrift and went ahead to give him all his inheritance, he then portrayed himself as a less caring parent who spoils their children way too much.

Comparison of the parent-child relationships based on the Prodigal son’s story and today’s and how it can be applied to both the parents and the children.

There are various helpful and stressful situations in the prodigal son’s story. In comparison to today’s relationships between parents and children; there is a lot to learn from (Oakes et al., 2015). First, there are very rebellious children in today’s generation. You will find a son wicked enough to plot his parents’ murder so as to get the inheritance. Others go haywire for the sole reason of disagreeing with the parents and end up on the streets after running away from home. Such rebellious children can be instructed or counseled using this story of the prodigal’s son. The prodigal son would not have eaten with the pigs if he only followed rules of the community and obeyed his father. Disobedient children of today can avoid future desperations and shame by following teachings of their parents and the community. Hence, from the Prodigal son’s disobedience, a challenging parent-child relationship can be dealt with using the story.

Again when considering how the father treated the lost son (Luke 15:20), parents have a lesson to learn on how to relate to a rebellious child. It is not easy for any parent to tell off their child because of a rebellious and humiliating thing they might have done. However, the pain sometimes becomes so much that a parent disowns the child to suffer out there. If there is a parent, who has difficulty in coming to terms with forgiving their children, the father from the prodigal son’s story can be a teaching for them.

The traditions – Isaac and Rebekah against Esau and Jacob

When considering an example of parents-children relationships, the story of Jacob and Esau suffices. When you go through the biblical accounts found in Genesis 25: 19 – 26, you will read about the family of Isaac and Rebekah and their twin. It was the custom of the Jews for the father’s blessings to go the son who had the birthright (Hempenius, 2015). Birthright naturally belonged to the firstborn son in a family. Following the line of the Jewish traditions, Esau who was the first child to Isaac and Rebekah automatically deserved the double portion from his father. However, through favoritism and deceit, Rebekah and Jacob managed to take away Esau’s blessing from the father. For Jacob to receive the father’s undeserved blessings, he had to play his brother. He ensured to impersonate his elder brother because he did not deserve the double portion as the younger son of Isaac. Rebekah as the parent, who favored Jacob more than her firstborn, helped him execute the plan so as to scoop Esau’s blessings. The whole incidence led to a long-term separation of the brothers to prevent Esau’s vengeance. (Genesis 27: 5-16), the kind of favoritism Rebekah portrayed indicates a type of parent-children relationship that you find in today’s families. Some parents who are materialistic love some of their children than others because they can help financially. Some of the other reasons you find favoritism in today’s relationships of parents and children include, but not limited to; education intelligence, familial backgrounds, and children’s personalities.

Rebekah and the two sons.

From the time Esau and Jacob were born and throughout their upbringing, Isaac loved Esau more while Rebekah loved Jacob (Genesis 25:27). This story is found in the Old Testament. The much love Rebekah had for Jacob led to her favoritism for Jacob and deceit of Esau which brought disputes between the two brothers. This kind of favoritism for one child than the other leads to indifferences and possible danger for the whole family. (Pillemer, Suitor, Riffin, & Gilligan, 2015). Favoritism of a parent to one child over the other quickly leads to family separations as we see in the case of Jacob and Esau when the former had to run to Haran to escape Esau’s wrath. Rebekah’s plan to deceive his son Esau shows an intricate relationship between her and the latter. When one fell hey are not preferred anywhere you feel out of place and unloved. Esau was inhumanly deceived which was made possible by Rebekah’s plotting. The deception (Genesis 27:35), of Esau did not end so well for either of the sons and thus the kind of relationship Rebekah had with her sons can be read as hard.

Another kind of relationship in this family can be adapted from Jacob’s obedience to his father and mother. Jacob did not deserve Isaac’s blessing for it was his brother who was older than him. However, Jacob stayed closed enough and followed his mother’s teachings, and that’s how he ended up getting the double portion. He escaped the wrath of his brother for he listened to his parents by running to hide at his mother’s brother, Laban, home (Genesis 27:44).He was also careful to marry from the desired tribe, and that’s why he saw to his family continuity.

Instructive accounts from the relationships between Isaac and Rebekah, and, Esau and Jacob.

In the story of Jacob and Esau, you find some of the parents- children relationships that exist today. When you consider Rebekah’s favoritism for Jacob over Esau, you can well relate to a story you heard from a neighbor or from a family you know about a favored child. As much as it is hard for a parent to hate on a child they have born, it gets different when it comes to the context of two or more sons of the same father. Most folks tend to lean on one child more than the other(s) for different reasons. You will find a parent who punishes one of their children often because they hate that they don’t perform in school when compared to other siblings. Another parent hates one child for the simple reason of naming from either of the grandparents’ sides. When you have such favoritism and hatred for own child you risk losing them and also causing fights in your family. When violent children like Esau are hated on, they can cause danger to the extent of killing their siblings. No one out there is born with the same personality with another (Mischel, 2013). It is not in anyone’s capacity to determine the kind of children they will bear. Parents are thus urged to learn to love each of their every child and treat them equally despite their differences (Psalm 127:3). The relationship between Rebekah and Esau can be used to counsel parents who favor one child over the other and help parents love their children the same way for otherwise; deeds can be dangerous to both the children. Favoritism as in the case of Rebekah will cause harm to the favored and the unfavored children. The separation of the brothers and Esau’s wrath shows the kind of harm a parent can cause their children out of favoritism.

When considering the beautiful relationship Jacob had with his parents, a sort of essential relationship between parents and children comes to mind. Jacob’s obedience for his father to marry a non-Canaanite saw to the family’s decent continuity. Children who are disobedient can be counseled using this account to motivate them to change for the better. In reading Jacob’s obedience to his mother (Genesis 29:1), two kinds of lessons can be given to children in relating to their parents. For one, Jacob managed to get the double portion thanks to his obedience for Rebekah his mother. For good things to happen, children can be taught to obey their parents as Jacob followed Rebekah’s teachings. On the other hand, this same obedience can be used to help children learn how to relate to their parents especially when they feel favored. Since Jacob knew it was not in his place, he was not the firstborn, to acquire the double portion he would have respectfully but firmly said no to his mother’s plot. It would have been possible to avoid the long separation between him and his brother Esau. Thus, children who have to favor parents can learn from Jacob to avoid following teachings of their favoring parents blindly to avoid harming their other siblings, themselves and the family at large.


From the two stories of the prodigal son together with Rebekah, Isaac, Esau and Jacob you get diverse kinds of parents-children relationships that are educative and helpful for the generation today. When you go throughout these stories, you very first and amazingly find today’s parents-children relationship that you can identify with (Oakes et al., 2015). You can almost find a neighbor or a family relative to relate with when it comes to the challenging and admirable relationships between parents and children in the biblical texts. When you use some of the stories given here to deal with the different relationships that exist today, change can erupt. The sacrificial, forgiving and real love for the prodigal son shown by his father is a text that can help counsel parents. A parent can be motivated to love, take in, and forgive their lost children who have brought them shame as it is in any parent’s place to love their children unconditionally. The story can also be used to counsel parents who love their children so much to the point of spoiling them. If the father denied the prodigal son the inheritance, which he was not supposed to share with him at that time, he would have saved his son the shame of desperation, eating with pigs. At the same time, children can be taught that sinning and separating from your parent does not mean the end of the relationship. A straightforward and humble sorry, repentance, can bring back the love between the parent and the child. When you put into consideration Rebekah’s favoritism for Jacob, you find two or more things that can help shape a parent-child relationship today. Rebekah caused the separation of his two sons due to her favoritism towards one of them. She could have avoided the wrath of Esau towards his brother and their eventual separation if she chose to love Esau as she did Jacob. Jacob did not have to run from Esau if Rebekah did not help Jacob deceive his brother. Some parents nowadays, favor or love one child more than the other which affects all the family members in the long run or even the community (Pillemer et al., 2015). The unfair dividing of inheritance has seen the death of some siblings, hatred between families and long-term separations. Besides, children who feel they have their parents favoring them more than their siblings can use the story of Jacob and Rebekah. Jacob could have avoided the sibling rivalry, between him and his brother, had he been careful and bold enough to say no to his mother’s plotting. Thus children can be counseled using Rebekah-Jacob’s relationship to avoid following teachings, from their favoring parents, against others as it could cause separation of families and related danger. From the prodigal son’s story, and, the family of Rebekah and her children, warning, motivation, and instruction to various kinds of parent-children relationships are portrayed.


The Bible: king James Version

Carlson, D. H. (2013). Jewish-Christian Interpretation of the Pentateuch in the Pseudo-

Clementine Homilies. Fortress Press.

Hempenius, E. J. (2015). Subsequent tale of the birth of eleven sons and one daughter is

Fundamental for the people of Israel, and also fundamental for the church of Christ. The sons of Jacob became the tribes of Israel and their names will be written on the gates of the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven (Rev. 21: 1-27, especially Rev. 21: 12). more important: Judah is born (Gen. 29: 35). He is mentioned in the lineage of Jesus Christ (Mt.

Mischel, W. (2013). Personality and assessment. Psychology Press.

Oakes, J., Lipton, M., Anderson, L., & Stillman, J. (2015). Teaching to change the world.


Pillemer, K., Suitor, J. J., Riffin, C., & Gilligan, M. (2015). Adult Children’s Problems

and Mothers’ Well-Being: Does Parental Favoritism Matter?.Research on aging, 0164027515611464.


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