Honoring My Parents

Q. I want to obey my parents and show them respect, but sometimes it feels like their expectations are unreasonably high. When I was a child I could understand. But now that I’m 25, it feels like a huge burden as they are refusing to let me go. What does the Bible say about obedience to our parents? Does it mean we must follow every command they issue? What is considered “respect and honor?” How far can they go in terms of demanding respect and honor? How far must I go to make them feel respected and honored? I would greatly appreciate some insight as I really don’t want to disobey the 5th commandment.

A. The 5th commandment tells us to honor our parents (Exodus 20:12). As adults, this means the way we live our life should reflect well on them and be a source of validation for them. It’s not just that we shouldn’t do anything that would cause them embarrassment or shame, but that their status would be elevated in the sight of their peers by the way we conduct ourselves. However, the Hebrew word for honor does not convey a sense of obedience. As adults we’re responsible to make our own decisions and our parents have no right to run our lives.

Colossians 3:20 says children are supposed to obey their parents in everything , but I believe this applies to children still living at home. If that’s the case with you, then it may be hard for your parents to think of you as an adult, and for you to remember that since they’re still supporting you, their rules carry greater weight than if you were out on your own. If you’re feeling smothered by their oversight, the solution is to get your own place.

If you already have moved out, then gently but clearly remind them that they’ve done a good job preparing you to make your own choices about life and now it’s time for you to begin applying all they’ve taught you, and if you need their input you will ask them for it.

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