Authored by Mara Hodler
Here’s an interesting verse: Honor thy father and mother.1
I remember well when it first dawned on me that my parents were not perfect. I was nine years old. This wasn’t a realization that my parents sometimes made a bad call, like when they couldn’t figure out whether it was me or one of my sisters who left the toothpaste cap off. But that sometimes they actually were wrong, you know … sinned.
Sometimes they were grouchy, selfish, angry, prideful, snappy … the whole gamut of wickedness. Just kidding! My point is that I realized that my parents might not always be right. So what then? Did I continue to obey as I always had? And if so, what if I was right and they were wrong?
At nine years of age, I wasn’t too worried about things, but when I became a teen, it was another story. I mean, by fifteen I knew a lot. I was right about a lot of stuff! I had a very keen idea of what kind of clothes looked good, how much (or how little) I needed to study, which movies were good for me, and, of course, which boys were good for me.
I remember some pretty bad run-ins with my parents. It wasn’t that I wanted to be difficult; I just didn’t always trust their calls. But, a funny thing happened, more than once. It turned out my parents were right about a lot of things, even if initially it seemed they were wrong.
Once, I decided to go to school in a certain outfit. I cringe remembering the outfit now; it was so terrible! It was woolen tights and a turtleneck with shorts, with a tank top on top. My Dad saw me on the way out and sent me straight upstairs to change. I was so angry at him! Why in the world did he have to tell me what I could or couldn’t wear? Now, in hindsight I cannot tell you how grateful I was that he intervened. I probably could never have lived that outfit down.
Stuff like that is even worse today because of things like Instagram and Facebook. Your actions can be consigned to history in seconds (just a word to the wise).
There was also a party or two that my parents refused to take me to. On the night of the party, I fumed that my parents could be so heartless as to deny me the opportunity to have fun with my friends. But, when it turned out the parties went totally awry and there was an accident or some other fiasco, I was so relieved that my parents had the foresight to protect me from dangers I could not see.
They just knew better than I did. They could see things I could not see. Imperfect as they may have been, they were on my side.
Anyways, I really have to hand it to my parents. For them it wasn’t just about being right. It was about helping me, making life better for me, and helping me learn all I could before I was grown and out on my own. Even before I really learned how to honor my parents, they honored me. They were an amazing example of sacrificial and unconditional love, every minute of my life.
The promise it speaks of in “Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise)” is: “That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”2 That’s a very cool promise. So a great life starts by honoring your parents. Interesting!
I can tell you this from experience, and/or you can learn this for yourself, but your relationship with your parents is one of the most important relationships you will ever have. There will probably never be anyone who knows you as well as your parents do, and who loves you as much as your parents do. Your relationship with Mom and Dad is one of your greatest resources. Honoring your parents helps you to preserve that relationship.
As you’re growing up, I think it’s pretty normal to have some conflicts with your parents. You’re growing up and asserting your independence, and your parents are concerned and maybe a bit conservative on your behalf. They want you to be safe, happy, and well. But you can do yourself a great favor and start by honoring your parents. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be yourself, make your own decisions, or have your own personality. It just means that you are going to respect your parents as well.
I think God wants us to honor our parents because when we honor and respect our parents, we don’t want to disappoint them. We want to listen to their counsel. We want to make choices that keep within the values our parents have imparted to us. Honor means to respect, credit, and even revere. In everyday life that translates into listening, trusting, communicating, and obeying.
When you have a different opinion, you need to take some time to think about it. Ask yourself if you have a different opinion just for the heck of having a different opinion, or if you have a different opinion that you actually need to share with your parents. Try and find win-win solutions. Try to understand their point of view. Try to communicate respectfully. Remember days like Father’s Day and Mother’s Day, your parents’ birthdays, and other things that make them feel special and appreciated. Really, your parents are your greatest allies.
And, ultimately the law requires that you obey your parents. They are the ones responsible for you; they are the ones providing for you. If they make a final call, just go with it. It could save you a lot of grief, and maybe protect you from wearing some very embarrassing outfits!
1 Ephesians 6:2 KJV
2 Ephesians 6:3 KJV
Read by Amber Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2016 by The Family International