"Honor your father and mother so that you'll live a long time in the land that God, your God, is giving you." ~Exodus 20:12, The Message
"The thing that impresses me most about America is the way parents obey their children." I wonder what the Duke of Windsor would say today, over a half a century after he spoke these words. It seems we've managed to take this fifth Commandment and turn it upside down. Let me be the first to say I fell so short as a kid when it came to honoring my parents. I admit it ~ I was the one who kept my mom up at night worrying. Any gray hairs or wrinkles she acquired during those years have my signature written all over them. I am mortified when I think back to some of the cruel things I said to her face, and the blatant disrespect I showed her throughout my teen years. I'm still apologizing to this day!
Looking around, I see how things have shifted even more in our society since I was a kid. It's not just disrespect we are dealing with; many kids and young adults are wearing the garment of entitlement. And for some reason, it's okay with the parents. In fact, in many homes the parents are jumping through hoops to honor their kids. "Honor your father and mother" seems to have been replaced with "honor your sons and daughters". But at what cost? This Commandment is the only one that is followed with a "promise" ~ to live a long time in the land God has given us. And this is what scares me.
Have we unknowingly removed a blessing by allowing our kids to grow up without expecting and teaching them to honor their parents? What is it going to be like for them as they bring children of their own into the world? Perhaps this is, in part, why so many young adults are making the decision to remain childless. But this is merely speculation.
I have to take a closer look at how this Commandment speaks to me personally ~ today...post child-rearing...with parents who are still very much alive. There are so many ways I can honor my mom, my stepdad, and my in-laws. What's more, I am seeing what a privilege and HONOR it is. I want to make the most of this sweet season, whether it's sitting down for a visit over lunch...keeping them company at a doctor's appointment...or offering to help around their homes.
It is abundantly clear to me that our parents belong way up on my list of priorities. And that's a good thing. Honoring our parents was never intended to be a burden. Quite the opposite, I think. The benefits and the blessings are far-reaching ~ in all generations, including those to come. I do believe we can restore this Commandment that has been turned upside down. But we have to make up our minds to do it, and it all begins with honoring the generation that came before us...and teaching our kids to do the same.
"A child who is allowed to be disrespectful to his parents will not have true respect for anyone." ~Billy Graham
"Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right. 'Honor your father and mother' is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely, 'so you will live well and have a long life'."
~Ephesians 6:1-3, The Message