Saturday, August 10, 2013

5 Ways to Honor Your Parents

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“Honor your father and mother - which is the first commandment with a promise - so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”    
- Ephesians 6:2-3

Obedience always precedes honor. That is the chronological order. Toddlers are not yet capable of honoring their parents. Their world revolves around themselves, getting their own needs met, and exploring their own desires. They are fully capable of learning obedience though, but the capacity to honor comes much later in childhood.

Honor is the expression of respect. It is recognizing the importance of someone and seeking to express love and devotion to that person. 

When you honor someone, you draw attention to that person's character. To truly honor parents, a child must come to understand something of the nature of right or wrong, of sacrifice and love.

A child only comes to desire to honor his parents when he recognizes and learns from experience that his parents have made the right decisions and have sacrificially loved him and each other. 

A child comes to respect and honor a parent when he recognizes that the parent's behavior has truly been good.

There is honor, however diluted or dysfunctional, that honors parents for position and not for character. The parents have given the child life, therefore, they are exceedingly important. The child honors them for the importance of their position as parents but acknowledges that, when their character are observed, the parents are not worthy of honor.

Tragically, many children in our generation, if they express honor at all, they express it on this shallow level. This is not the characteristic though of a healthy family.

Our children see our weaknesses and irritating habits and they see our selfish part far better than we suspect. 

Cultivating honor is truly hard work. The capacity for honor is only slightly developed in the early childhood years, and reaches its finest hour three of four years after the child has grown up.

Honor can still be cultivated in our younger children. If our child has been taught to stand when an adult enters a room, it is at first an automatic act. In due time, it may become an expression of genuine honor.

If our child is instructed not to interrupt a parent when talking, it will first be simply a learned behavior. In due time, it will become an expression of honor, recognizing the worth of an individual, and the disrespect shown when one is interrupted.

How then can we teach honor to our children? 

Let me offer you 5 ways:

1. Offering help when help is needed.

When my then twelve-year old Miguel offered to wash the dishes when it was not his "turn", he was showing honor. True honor is a matter of the heart, not a particular action. Genuine honor is expressed by means of common courtesies to parents.

2. Words of appreciation

"Mommy that was a great dinner!" When my eight-year old daughter Andrea said that to me, it generated a smile from me. But it also made me realize that it was an expression of awareness of my value in terms of my time, effort, and expertise in meal preparation (ehem!). "Thanks for coming to our game, Dad," is an honest recognition of my children to my husband's effort he made to be able to attend to their football tournament.

3. Written words

Imagine how you feel when your children write you a card or a note or a poem to honor you and appreciate all the things you have invested in them. I know, it all made all the sacrifices worthwhile! It does for me, every time.

Card from our youngest son, Jaime

4. Physical presence and time

As children mature into adults and parents enter into old age, honor is expressed by visits, phone calls, cards, and even caring for the physical needs. Every time we visit and take care of our ailing parents, we are modeling honor for our own children. How we treat our parents is a preview of how our children will treat us when it is our time.

5. The way they invest and live their lives

The happiest of all parents are those who are honored by their children who chose a self-giving lifestyle, investing for the benefit of others, and of God in the world. We would be most proud when the day comes for our children to be benefactors of many charitable organizations and serving the poor, the needy, and the sick when it is their time.

Making the street children and orphans happy

How about you? 

How are the ways you can show honor to your parents?

How do you teach your children to express it?

Keep Walking!

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