Honor Your Parents
Grandparents Day September 11
As a young adult I spent a lot of time being angry at my parents for what they did and didn’t do to me or for me in my growing up years. it took some years of therapy and some maturing to realize that they had done the best they could with the skills and knowledge available to them. They had had their own traumas growing up which made them who they ere. The fact is they raised five wonderful children who in turn raised good, moral , well behaved children.
I had to learn to forgive the injuries that I felt and move on in love for them. Although I always loved them. That was reinforced through prayer when I realized what I was actually saying in the Our Father, ‘forgive us our trespasses AS we forgive those who those who trespass against us.’ In other words I am asking God to forgive me to the extent that I forgive others. Now that could be drawing down eternal condemnation on myself. I’m not that stupid!
I went back in my memory to my childhood to do an examination of conscience of about the people I needed to forgive; telling God that I forgave my brother for making fun of me. I also forgave a little girlfriend who had stolen my bracelet off my dresser and so on. It took a long time to recall so many hurtful events and to forgive fifty plus years of injuries, real or imagined. Yet it was so liberating. Unforgiveness is like acid. It eats away inside of us and does nothing to the one who gave offense. Letting go of hurts and angers was indeed very healing but receiving absolution for those grudges confirmed God’s loving mercy.
The fourth commandment is not a suggestion. It is an order from God to give respect, honor and care to our parents who gave us life and did their best to set us on a good path. To refuse to visit or remember them on birthdays, Mother and Father’s Day or holidays is hurtful and ungrateful. To exclude them from the lives of their grandchildren is just mean. It may make your life more comfortable to exclude them but grandchildren should know and spend time with their grandparents as long as it’s a safe environment. It is petty to exclude our parents from our lives because we don’t want to listen to their opinions or hear the same old stories over and over. We should make an effort at comprise. “Let’s agree not discus this or that topic so we can have a peaceful family visit.”
Maybe we need to take an objective look at what our parents are trying to tell us and see if we can be more flexible. It may be helpful to discuss the differences with a third party who can be objective and honest. Parents are role models to their children. Kids miss nothing and they may think it’s OK to criticize their parents and drift away from them one day. Let us teach forgiveness and reconciliation by putting our words into action. Practice what we preach!
My six year old granddaughter frequently reminds me that “people are more important than things!” when I want to do some chores before spending time with her. When I don’t put her first, what have I taught her? Of course there has to be a balance or we would never eat or have clean clothes. The point is, never mind that your lawn needs mowing, go spend time with your parents.
Too often we think the fourth commandment is just for children but if they have been well taught, hopefully they will continue to honor and respect their parents in their own adulthood. However, as adults we want to separate ourselves from the role of child and do not appreciate parental advice when we ourselves become parents. As a parent you never really stop being a parent but wise parents wait to give advice until they are asked for it.
Religion is the most sensitive area of conversation between adult children and parents when their is a difference in practice. Their care is for your soul and they want to see you practicing what you were taught. Let’s not be angry at them for doing their job. As Mother Theresa would say, “Love them anyway!”