Know The Benefits of Honoring Your Parents
I sat mesmerized and with a lump in my throat as I watched Bindi Irwin on Dancing with the Stars #DTWS honor her dad with her dance routine. She danced so emotionally as she paid tribute to her dad, the man she adored, who had been so tragically taken away from her, at such a tender age.
This week so many things reminded me of the important role that parents play in their children’s lives. I love watching new parents come in with their babies, for the first time. There is so much love and protection and pride. You can almost hear them say, “Did we really create this perfect, wonderful being?” The toddler years are just as fascinating as they watch their children achieve new milestones, almost daily.
And then the teen years roll around, and everything changes.
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long.” Exodus 20 :12
I first noticed the second part of this commandment when an exasperated parent was complaining to me about her teen, and how difficult she was. I got to thinking, how easy do we make it, for our teens to honor us? Do we nurture them and teach them to honor us, so they can receive their blessing?
1. Honor your father and mother
Do we as parents honor our father and mother? I’ve come to admire and greatly respect one of my friends, who dropped everything to attend to her ailing parent, because she loved her and wanted to be there for her. Unfortunately, some parents treat their parents like they are an inconvenience or an annoyance. They don’t have time to visit them or even call them on the phone because they are just too busy. Some adult children can’t wait for their parents to die so they can inherit what was left for them. We parents, must honor our parents, and then teach our children to do the same. Put yourself in your parent’s shoes and think how sad you would feel if your children had no time for you, when you got older. We must teach our children to honor us, by first honoring and respecting our parents.
2. Show them love.
Tell your teens you love them. I know that it’s really hard to express love when every encounter feels like you’ve been in the boxing ring, and yet continuing to show love will ultimately break barriers. I was so touched by this story I heard on #Air1, a Christian radio station. A young man talked about how he had lived a not so upright life, and he eventually ended up in jail. By then every member of his family had given up on him except his grandma. She continued to pray for him, write to him and visit him. He said her love saved his life. He wandered how she could continue to love him and said, “I wanted what she had.” He ultimately turned his life around and is doing well now. His grandma dared to love him even when he didn’t deserve it. When you feel like giving up on loving your teens, remember that bundle of joy you brought home from the hospital. That person is still in there, waiting to love you and honor you back.
3. Teach them your values
Unfortunately, parents sometimes forget that they actually have to teach their children their values. It’s great to live your values, but it’s even better to explain to your children why you believe what you do. Take the time to talk to them and explain your traditions, your faith and the value system by which you live. Children learn by example and they will respect you and your beliefs, when they see you live it and especially when they understand why. Don’t let the stresses of life rob you of the opportunity to teach your teens values that will serve them well in the future but that will also enhance the relationship they have with you.
4. Forgive just as you have been forgiven.
There are no perfect parents, perfect children or perfect siblings. We teach our teens to honor us by forgiving them when they make mistakes. I remember literally telling one of my teens who had disobeyed me and gotten embarrassed that “I told you so.” The response was quick, “Mom, parents are not supposed to do that.” Parents even when they were right have to be willing to forgive and help pick up the pieces of their teen’s lives, when necessary and help them start again. We must also admit it and ask for forgiveness, when we are wrong, as we invariably will be sometimes. We are human after all.
In the same way, we must be willing to forgive our parents for “the mistakes” they made when they were raising us. I’ve learned that every parent tries to do the best for their child, with the knowledge they have at that time. There are very few parents who set out to do anything to harm their children. Forgive, and forgive some more, just as we are forgiven and teach your teens to do the same. Life is too short, for family members to spend it feuding over perceived slights that ultimately don’t really matter.
Children need to be shown love, by how we interact with them, with each other and with our own parents. We must forgive them when they offend us and we must learn to forgive our parents as well. Parenting and teaching children to honor and respect their parents is no easy task. Parents definitely need a hefty dose of humor and patience to make it through from one day to the next and a generous portion of love every single day.