|Children, obey your parent in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor you father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.|
For many of us, it is easy to honor our father and mother. For those of us who were blessed with godly or moral parents, they are worthy of honor because their actions are honorable. But some of us are not in this category; unfortunately, some of us were abandoned by our parents or suffered physical or emotional abuse growing up. How do we honor such parents? Should we honor them?
With the help of the Holy Spirit, the first way to honor an abusive parent is to come to a place of forgiveness. We all must forgive those who have wronged us, no matter how grievous the wound. This will honor your parent and bring a measure of healing to your own heart. This does not mean that you should allow the abuse to continue. It is important to set up appropriate boundaries. If conditions allow, you can discuss those boundaries with them and explain why they are needed. In many cases though, this may not be fruitful or wise. It is not possible to provide good counsel for each individual circumstance in a general sermon or newsletter. If you have suffered abuse from a parent (biological parents or other caregivers), I would encourage you to seek a mentor or Christian counselor if you need help establishing proper boundaries and working through forgiveness.
Honoring our parents means that we work to ensure that they are cared for, especially as they age. It does not mean that we meet their every expectation or desire. But we should maintain involvement and connection with them (again, assuming abuse or neglect is not an issue). Few people have ever expressed regret over giving their parents too much of their time, but many have regretted losing connection with their parents. I know how easy it is for the weeks to slip by, but I am reminded of how important it is to stay in touch. In closing, I want to address the discipline of young children.
As I detailed Sunday, the Bible uses the word “rod” in describing how to discipline a child, but the “rod” itself is not described. It is important to never wound your child, so the use of a proper “rod” will ensure that you get their attention and correct their heart attitude without abuse. A good “rod” for young children is a simple one-gallon paint stirrer. Again, if you have questions, please reach out to older parents who have successfully raised their children.