“I hate you!”, “You’re not my real father, I don’t have to listen to you.”, “It’s my life not yours”, “I should get paid for doing chores!”, “Get out of MY room!”, “Mom, I want it now!”
Any of that sound familiar? I have heard these phrases and more (even more terrible) mostly on TV but also first hand. Even if I dared to think them, I would never let these words pass from my lips (I am well past that stage anyway). These phrases usually come from bratty, disrespectful, ungrateful children who cannot have their way. I wonder how it must feel to a parent or guardian to hear such utterances from the very children they have nurtured and raised from a young age. It must be annoying and painful to hear these words come from someone they love especially children who have a limited knowledge of the sacrifices it takes to raise the little buggers in the first place.
Exodus 20:12 says, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” In that verse is the promise of a long life for those who honor their parents (that is a pretty good incentive). I do not remember when I became aware of it but I realized at some point that I received “stuff” while my parents often went without. That was hard to swallow but I decided that I did not want to be a burden on my parents. Sure I complained, a lot (doing dishes is the worst!) but I got to a point where I did not ask for presents or material things anymore. Of course, I appreciated gifts (and still do) but it seemed so insignificant in light of how hard my parents worked to support our family. I got accepted into some really “good” universities but I pushed them aside and chose the school that offered me the full scholarship because I did not want to make things harder on my mom and dad. My dad is in his early seventies but he still has to work and even worse, it is the type of job where he will not get paid if he does not work (so we will probably never go on a vacation together). My mom has done her time with the state but is not of retirement age so she has to keep plugging along and put up with others’ foolishness until she is of age to get her full retirement benefits. How can I refuse to do dishes without being asked? How can I ask for a Macbook Pro? How can I neglect such parents? I can not. I just want to graduate and find a job that pays well enough that I can support myself and help out my parents so they can retire and have a relaxed and fulfilling life. There is no way I can repay them for their love and support throughout the years but I will surely try. It really upsets me when children disrespect their parents. Young people today have so much attitude and this sense of entitlement that is downright ugly (do not even get me started on teenagers) as seen in recent news of a fed up dad shooting his daughter’s laptop.
It is not just parents that should be honored; it is policemen, teachers, neighbors, grand parents older siblings, uncles, aunts etc. A little while ago, my nine year old cousin spent the night at my house. I do not remember what was said but during the course of banter between my cousin and my mom, my smart alec-y cousin told my mom to shut up. She said it jokingly (the way one might with a friend) but for her sake, I am glad my mom did not hear her. I was amazed. Not once in my life have I eeeh-hev-vver told either of my parents to shut up, not even in jest nor would I have the audacity to do so. There is this line that I have always known not to cross with adults because I do not want to be seen as disrespectful or allow my behavior to be seen as a bad reflection of my parents. I let my cousin slide that time because I know she was not intentionally being disrespectful but I will not let it go again (a forehead flick may be in order).
Of course children deserve a degree of respect, “for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14) but we must also remember that God is our heavenly father (Abba if you will) and we need to honor him as well. As I become more religiously aware, I think about whether what I am doing or how I am living honors God. I would like to live in a way that honors God and I am moving in the right direction but I cannot honestly and confidently say that as I am now with my bad habits and other shortcomings (more on this later), I am honoring God. I do know however, that God is pleased that I honor my parents (even if I occasionally grumble about it).