My Parents Don’t Know Nuthin’
“Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children and no theories.” (John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester). Without doubt, being a good parent is the most challenging and most underrated assignment on earth. It’s also the most important and most rewarding, even when it doesn’t feel so!
As a child growing up, you probably remember how often you thought your parents were anything but good for you. You may have wondered what you did to God for Him to punish you like this. And on more than one occasion, you wanted to run away from home to get as far away from your parents as possible.
But if you have lived long enough to become a parent yourself, you probably have a completely different perspective. Now, you are wondering how your parents ever managed to raise you and your siblings and survive as well as they did! As one wise woman said, the moment you have children yourself, you forgive your parents everything. It is amazing how the older we become, the wiser our Moms and Dads seem to be.
That is why God says to children, “Honor your parents.” The word for honor in Hebrew literally means “to give weight to.” So God instructs children to give weight to their relationship with their parents and to hold them in high esteem, elevating them to a place of great importance and reverence.
Notice, God does not impose a time limit on how long we should honor our parents–it just says, honor them. This is not a word intended just for kids only. It applies to us if we are ten, twenty, fifty, or seventy-five years old. We’re to honor our mothers and our fathers, no matter how old we are.
Honoring our parents is forever, but the way we do so differs according to our age and maturity level. If we are still under our parents’ care, if we have not cut the umbilical cord and are still living at home and are still dependent on our parents for nurture or support, either because we are too young or too immature to take care of adult responsibilities, the way we honor them is to obey them. That means submitting to their authority and doing what they say. Colossians 3:20 says to us, “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is pleasing to the Lord.”
For adult children, this means showing great appreciation for our parents, listening keenly, keeping in touch with them, and making sure their needs are being adequately met. As they sacrificed for us, we are to sacrifice for them. According to Paul, a believer who does not provide for his aged parents is worse than an infidel.
Our parents were not perfect, but we owe our physical existence to them literally. And can you imagine how much easier their lives would have been if they did not have to take care of us? Can you imagine what they could have done for themselves with the money they spent to feed us, clothe us, house us, transport us, and educate us? They did for us what nobody else would have done and put up with nonsense from us that nobody else would have put up with.
My advice to you is to listen to God on this. If your parents are alive, honor them appropriately. If you have to forgive them, do so, but reach out to them to let them know in tangible ways you respect them and appreciate them. If they need help, help them.
Now, the command to honor our parents comes with a promise–“that it may go well with you and you may live long on the earth.” (Eph. 6:1) This command is for our protection, growth, and well-being. God uses our parents to provide for us and protect us from trouble and premature death. Grave yards are filled with people who died too soon, and jail houses populated with men and women who will spend the rest of their lives behind bars. And only because they thought their parents didn’t know nuthin’!
I recall September 13, 1963. It was a Friday. That was the day my aunt died in a fatal car accident. I asked to go with my aunt that day, but my mother said no. I cried, I didn’t understand and I did not like her answer. But nothing I said or did caused her to change her mind that day. She refused to budge. And here I am, still alive. I guess my mother did know something after all.