How to Honor and Respect Parents Who Aren't Honorable or Respectable?

Christian Relationship Help: How to Honor and Respect Parents Who Aren't Honorable or RespectableAre you looking for Christian relationship help to guide you in how to honor and respect parents who aren't honorable or respectable? One of the Ten Commandments given by God is to honor your mother and father and it came with the promise that the Israelites would live long in their land (Exodus 20:12). "Honor" means to show proper respect and value. It isn't difficult to figure out how to honor and respect parents that behave honorably and respectably, but how do you honor and respect parents that don't act that way?

Many parents live in a way that isn't responsible. They overspend and incur huge debts. They don't plan appropriately for the future and end up in a situation where they need money for basic necessities. They have addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, and shopping. They are verbally and emotionally abusive to you, your siblings, your other parent, and your children. They may have divorced your mother or father and are now living with or married to someone who isn't your biological parent and worse yet, someone you don't like or respect. They may also have been bad parents when raising you and your siblings and have never repented.

These and other problems are all too common today, yet Christians still feel they need to abide by the biblical mandate. Here are ways you can honor a dishonorable parent:

Refuse to enable bad behavior. Honoring does not require children to enable parents to continue bad behavior. It doesn't honor parents to do things that ultimately hurt them, the relationship with you, and others. When you honor someone, you want what is best for them because you value them enough to care. Refusing to enable unhealthy choices is investing in your parent's long-term good and acting in a way that increases the chance that positive changes will be made.

Speak respectfully when confronting. Treating your parents with respect doesn't mean you can't confront them with the truth. The temptation might be to confront them with the deluge of resentment and anger you have stored up for years. Instead, you speak to them at the appropriate time in the appropriate way. Talk to them alone rather than in front of other people. Let them know that the problems are hurting your relationship with them and that you want the relationship to be better. Don't talk down to them or treat them abusively or with contempt. Accept your part in the problem by owning your own perceptions, opinions, experiences, and feelings. Recognize that your parents have the right to make choices for themselves as adults and so do you. Don't tell them what to do, manipulate, or threaten.

Do the things you can. There are some things you cannot do: give money when the money isn't going to be spent wisely or is hurting you and your immediate family; tolerate abusive behavior toward you or your spouse and children; allow someone who is high or intoxicated in your home; allow someone to live with you who will disrupt your home and not respect your boundaries; or anything else that is enabling. You can't do these types of things but you can visit the person in other settings; remember holidays; help with things that are for your parent's good and do things that you would normally do for them.

Honoring and respecting your parents doesn't require you to tolerate and condone unacceptable behavior nor does it require you to allow them to do anything they want in your home and to you. It simply means that you treat your parents as people who you care about and value enough to make a stand for what is right and what is good for your long-term relationship.

If you need more practical tips and Biblical truths to help you change your relationships, get my FREE "15-Day Relationship Challenge" designed to give you back the power over your life.

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Karla Downing is an author, speaker, licensed marriage and family therapist, and Bible study teacher. Karla's passion is to help people find freedom in Christ in the midst of their difficult relationships and circumstances through Biblical truths and practical tools.

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