When we speak of the responsibilities that children should have towards their parents, the first thought that comes into the mind of every parent is: “Yes! Children should OBEY their parents” (Ephesians 6:1). Indeed, every parent is right to think so. But wait a minute! After you have read this article you might not be thinking the same way again, because you will probably experience a revolution that will refine your thinking and orient it in a new direction. Parent-child relationship is a broad topic, and this article is only one of a number of other articles that could be written on the subject. Kindly put on your seat belt and let us fly!
I recognize three seasons in the life of every human being, and in each season, we are to obey our parents.
SEASON NUMBER ONE —– Our Childhood or Adolescent Season
There is a nature in every human being that is prone to rebellion. Right after any child is born, he or she begins to exhibit rebellion to the point of sometimes trying to chew the nipples of the very breast the mother uses to feed him or her. The child begins to develop two kinds of cries —- one that signals hunger, pain, or discomfort, and another typical one that clearly depicts rebellion and the “playing of tricks to get attention.”
As the child grows the parents are to teach the little one to obey instructions. Parents must live upright lives and set good example so as to make it easier and appropriate for children to respect and obey them.
However, no child has an excuse for disobeying an unprincipled or delinquent parent. As you humble yourself and obey, you will be helping your parent to “see the light” and encourage Daddy or Mummy to amend his or her ways. Obedience brings God’s blessings. If your Mum or Dad tells you that your dress is revealing too much of your precious body parts and you therefore need to make some changes, do not say “Oh no! Everyone in the area and in my school wears it!” Well, remember that the majority is not always right; Noah was building a ship on dry ground but he was right while the whole world in his time was wrong.
Have your values and principles in place, be convinced about them, and live by principle; not by circumstances. We basically respond to our parents during our childhood season, and build a relationship with them.
SEASON NUMBER TWO —– Our Adulthood or Marriage Season
Once you say “I do” and seal your marriage, a new season begins. Just as parenting does not actually cease after a child marries, the same applies to children obeying their parents after they begin to be parents themselves. Although you leave home, you still need the advice of your parents one way or another. Anyone who marries and stretches out his or chest to say “I don’t need my parents anymore; I don’t need any advise from them”, is only being proud and foolish because your children will need them as grandparents. What your children hear you say about your parents and in-laws, and the behavior you portray to them, will seriously affect and jeopardize their attitude towards them and towards you. Be a shining example to your children. Teach them how to respect parents by your example of how you respect your parents. Even if your parents are dead there are uncles, aunts, and grand parents around to be loved and respected.
Since you are married and independent to a large degree, it is not easy to listen to advise, but try not to carry any rebellious attitude of your teenage years into your marriage life. It is a bad habit of immaturity to always run home to consult your Mum or Dad like a kid who is married; but have the right, mature balance, and be flexible for counsel. You do not have to always do everything your parents say when you are married, but humbly consult them when necessary, listen carefully to them, and apply what is beneficial. During our adult season we are no more under their direct authority to respond to them directly, but we respond to their counsel instead.
SEASON NUMBER THREE —– Care-giving Season
As we grow older our parents will need our support at some stage. We must be aware of this and prepare for it. You will be giving back to them the tender care they gave to you when you were a child. It should be a joy and a delight on your part to assist them to complete the few years left for them on earth peacefully. You should not wait to be begged or forced by circumstances to love and care for your aged parents. Worst of all, don’t pretend you have too many problems to solve and use that as an excuse to develop a callous, uncaring heart. Often our elderly folk need more of our presence and expressions of love in different ways and not just our occasional gifts.
Look for your parents or their representatives wherever they are, and give them some love and care as a continuation of the obedience you learned from childhood.
In your older years you respond more to the needs of your parents.
Now the big question is: Children are to obey their parents; are you now living in obedience? Every age of a person has its degree of obedience. The heart of love you developed for them from your infant years should grow and bear fruit throughout your adult life. If problems have developed between you and your parent or parents, take humble steps to resolve them and still submit to them. If you “honor your father and mother, your life is prolonged on the earth, and it goes well with you” (Ephesians 6:1).
It also implies that if parents do not make time to love and care for their children properly, and therefore do not create the best conditions that teach and encourage the children to obey them, then the parents will be shortening the lives of their own children! Solemn!
Whatever your age, are you going to resolve to honor your father and mother (or their representatives) this year and beyond?
Copyright May 2004. Rev. Dr. Samuel Kisseadoo, Professor of Biology, Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia 23668, USA. Founder & President Fruitful Ministries International Inc. (Evangelistic & Teaching Christian Ministry), 6 Red Robin Turn, Hampton, Virginia 23669, USA. Phone 757-7289330 [email protected]