“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord Your God gives you.” (Exodus 20:12)
This is one of the only ten commandments that talks about the benefits of following it. The only other commandment that mentions a positive benefit is ““You shall not make for yourself an idol…. [God will show] lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Exodus 20:4-6) Another commandment only discusses the consequences of not obeying, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” discusses only the negative outcome saying, “for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” It is interesting that this one comes with the benefit. Probably because in God's wisdom He knew this would be hard . God also repeated this multiple times throughout the Bible to drive home His point:
Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the Lord your God gives you. (Deuteronomy 5:16)
How do we go about doing this especially when our parents are human and made mistakes?
Forgive them Yes forgive them whether they embarrassed you, abused you, forced you into something you did not like. Forgive them. This may seem impossible, but thankfully all things are possible with God! You need Him in this process to free yourself from any possible bitterness.
Pray for them. Try to cultivate thanksgiving around your parents. Express gratitude for them, even there is only a slight half-hearted attempt to show love. It may help to ask God in your prayers the way that God views you parents. He is always against abuse and neglect, but Our compassionate, gracious God will still be able to illuminate a different view of your parents.
Appreciate them. Having boundaries is healthy, including with your parents. If it is safe to communicate with your parents, establish wise boundaries which could include keeping your children from your parents. Just always check your motives and ask the Holy Spirit. You can appreciate them from afar, but if it is safe and possible keep in contact with your parents. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin Madison divided a group of girls ages 7 to 12 into three groups after being put in a stressful situation: The first had 15 minutes in person with their mothers, the second called their moms and the last one watched a film. Researchers found that levels of oxytocin, a neurotransmitter and a hormone, oxytocin is often called ‘the love hormone,” were increased in both the groups that had just talked to Mom. The researchers also saw that the levels of the stress hormone cortisol decreased in both the groups that talked to Mom. So if a healthy boundary for you can include calls to Mom about difficult stressful situations, it may help you feel better.
You may not understand their rules or guidance, but still treat them with respect. They do not have complete authority as that is only reserved for God. If your parents words are not contradictory to God’s Words, then you should obey your parents. They are using their wisdom to teach you and guide you the best way they know. You manners and words you use with your parents are part of how you honor them.
(Side notes: If it is an abusive situation you may need to separate from the situation. If your parents words are contradictory then do not follow their advice, instead seek Godly counsel.)
Honoring your Father and mother comes with blessings for long life for you! Honoring your parents by forgiving them, praying for them, appreciating them and respecting them fills God with gladness. These steps can only be accomplished with His hand, it is really easy for us as children to see the faults in our parents, but with the Holy Spirit we can take an approach to honor them.
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