Even if your parents don’t know the Bible, odds are they have quoted it in the course of their parenting: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long…” At least that was the case when I was growing up. I had a real problem with that when I was a child. To say I was stubborn would be like saying the Titanic was a boat! I resisted authority…still struggle with that one. I questioned every decision – and I mean EVERY decision…especially those made by my mom. Why is that? Well, because she was the most present parent. She dealt with all the details of raising the four of us. In the course of the every-day, I learned just how far I could push an issue and I determined to push as much as possible. I wasn’t a bad kid. On the contrary, she was often complimented on our excellent behavior and manners, but that didn’t change the fact that I challenged her.
When my mother was really frustrated with me, one of her favorite things to say was, “When you grow up, I hope you have 4 kids just like you!” Now that I’m in my
mid-forties, erm, more mature, I have grown to see the patience that my mother exhibited in her dealings with me. Defiant until the end, I have had no children of my own – but in an example of divine justice, or heavenly humor, I have been a minister of youth, an elementary school teacher, a middle school teacher, a doting aunt, and a nanny. So what I learned is that parenting is way harder than I thought!
An advantage of age is perspective. I can look back now and see with increased clarity the effort and love that my parents exhibited. What was once a contentious relationship between parent and child has grown into an irreplaceable friendship. And through the course of growing up, I have heard myself saying the same words to the children that I encounter – “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long…” There are many ways to show your parents that you appreciate them and honor them. Here are the three that I like best:
1. Be Genuinely Thankful
One of the things that my mom appreciates more than anything else is when I stop to thank her for all she did when we were young. Things that I didn’t see as a child, I am only too aware of as an adult. I thank her for being there when I had my heart broken, for letting me talk to her about ANYTHING, for loving me enough to NOT let me behave like an idiot. Some of the most meaningful times of honor come out of a simple telephone call…reminiscing. When the opportunity arises, just express your genuine thanks. Your parents will be very appreciative.
2. It’s Never too Late to Apologize
Just like being genuinely thankful, it’s never too late to mend old fences with your parents. Did you do something monumentally foolish as a teenager? Express your sincere regret now. Did you hold a grudge for something they said or did that you thought wasn’t fair at the time, but now you see that they were right? Tell them so. A thoughtful and heart-felt “mea culpa” will work wonders at healing your heart and honoring your parents.
3. Enjoy their Company
One of the best things you can do to show your parents that you honor them is to spend time with them. Take your Dad out for lunch and talk about what’s going on in his life. Drop by and have a chat with your Mom, just because. While they will always be your parents, there’s a great honor in being their friend, too.
Your parents don’t want or need another gift from you. What they want is to know that you value them, love them and honor them. If you do these three things, your parents will know how much you care and they will be deeply thankful. The best reward to your parents is to show them that they were successful in raising you to be a caring, thoughtful, loving adult.
On this day, 46 years ago, my parents were bringing me into the world. I breathed my first breath, gave my first cry and grabbed hold of their hearts with all my might. It is my prayer that after years of growth, struggle, and strain, that my life and my being are a blessing to them. I pray that I will honor them with my life. Thank you Mama, Daddy and Papa Frank.