One of the most important commands that we pound on our children is “Honor your father and mother.” This is not for us, not because we are ego-tripping, or because we enjoy the adulation of our children. No, this is for them. This command is the first commandment that comes with a promise. Exodus 20:12 says “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (NLT) Deuteronomy 5:16 says “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (NIV)
We want them to honor us so that they can enjoy the promise that comes with it. Which parent doesn’t want a long, full life for their children? And which child wouldn’t want that for himself? It is important that we understand the full implications of this command and that we make sure our children understand it too. Some of us let our children get away with dishonor and disrespect because we don’t understand that such behavior affects their future. But it clearly does.
Having said this, I think parents should make sure we live in such a way that makes it easy for our kids to honor us. But a lot of times, we are the very hindrance to them obeying this command. My husband and I have talked to a lot of broken and hurt people who find this command so difficult to obey because their parents are harsh, abusive and unreasonable.
If you’re a parent, here are some questions to ponder:
Do you model “honor?” Do you treat your spouse with respect? Or do you roll your eyes at your husband? How do they see you talking to (and about) your own parents? Do you shout at your helpers at home? Do you choose your words carefully when you discipline your children?
Are you living a life of integrity? Integrity, in its original Latin translation, means “undivided.” It means you are one and the same person in public and in private. Do they see you behaving the same way at home and in church or at work? Do you talk to them in the same gentle, respectful tone you use with other adults? Do you practice what you preach? Are you living in obedience to God’s commands? Do you fulfil the promises you make to them?
Do your children know how much you love them? Do you serve them sacrificially? Are your decisions reflective of your priorities? Or do they feel that they are an inconvenience to you? Do they think your love for them as conditional, based on their behaviour and performance?
I know these are difficult questions to answer but I think it’s helpful that every parent should reflect on them every now and then, including myself. As we always strive to set our children up for success in different areas of life, let us strive to make them successful in obeying this command by living honorable lives.