The fourth commandment says, “Honour your father and mother.” In his Small Catechism, Martin Luther explains the commandment this way: “We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.” This isn’t always easy, and when we’re young we often disobey, disrespect, and dishonour our parents regularly. We most notably dishonour them in our teenage years. During the attempt to discover ourselves, we often feel our parents are trespassing in our personal space and demand they let us be and not tell us what to do, how to think, and how to spend our time and money. We don’t think for a moment that it’s their job—or vocation—as parents to get involved in how we think and act, and it’s our vocation as their children to listen to them and obey them. As long as it glorifies God, of course. So, I have ventured into five common ways in which we dishonour our parents that need avoidance.
You Wouldn’t Understand
As we grow up we think that just because our parents are old, that must mean they have no experiences like ours. At a certain age we like to fool ourselves into thinking we know everything there is to know in the world. We fail to realise the selfishness and the arrogance in this thinking when we say, “You wouldn’t understand.” What makes us think they won’t understand what’s going on or what we’re going through? They’re not stupid. Chances are, they went through the same or similar experiences we’re going through. Sure, it’s possible there may be something they wouldn’t understand if they never had a similar experience, but it’s not fair to them if we don’t give them a chance to understand. If we’re going through a troubling experience, hiding it from the best people who can help us get through it isn’t going to help. Even if it’s not a troubling experience and it’s just something we’re doing that’s far different than when they were our age, saying “You wouldn’t understand” is basically an implication that we think they’re stupid—that they’re not smart enough to understand the different times we’re in. How would you feel if you asked your parents what’s going on and they said, “You wouldn’t understand”? You’d probably feel stupid or unimportant, right? Well, that’s probably how our parents might feel when we say, “You wouldn’t understand.” How can we learn to respect others if we don’t first respect our parents?
Mind Your Own Business
Guess what? You are their business! If we live under our parents’ roof, we have no right to tell them such a thing. When we live under our parents’ roof, we are dependent on them; we don’t have complete independence. When we live with our parents, we literally depend on them for survival because we’re incapable of doing it on our own—paying bills, purchasing groceries, affording rent, whatever it is. Even if we live on our own, that doesn’t reserve the right to tell them to “mind their own business.” We are still their child. Sure, everyone has a right to privacy and there’s a certain limit to how much each of us let people in, but when it comes to our well-being and self-preservation, our parents have every right to know how that’s going and how well we’re doing. Telling them to mind their own business is basically saying, “I don’t need you anymore.” Who are the first people you usually go to when you’re in financial need? Is it your parents? As a fully functional adult, do you still go to your parents for anything, even if it’s just advice? I go to my father all the time for advice whenever I’m making a big life decision, especially when it’s something I haven’t done before. For example, I recently leased a 2016 Jeep Renegade. Having never done this before, I called my dad beforehand and asked for his advice, and it was well worth it. We still need our parents, and updating them with our business will help them be more prepared to help us in dire needs.
Can I Have Some Money?
If you’re old enough to ask this question, you’re probably old enough to make your own money. Of course, there are extenuating circumstances where we may need help, but if you just want money to buy luxuries, get off your lazy butt and get a job and save your money. If you’re an adult, you’re in the real world now, so stop acting like a child and depending on your parents for every little thing and get out there and make something out of yourself. You’re a big kid now! We demand independence and then whine and complain when it’s given to us. You can’t afford to act like a kid anymore. Now is the time to work your butt off and be an adult. Sometimes, this toil as an adult sucks. I acknowledge that. What you’re experiencing is the curse of man. “…cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you…” (Genesis 3:17b-18a). We may not all be farmers and experience these thorns and thistles, but the point is that where work was once good and easy, now it is hard and labourious. We experiences thorns and thistles, for example, when the printer suddenly stops working. Work is still good, but it’s under a curse because of sin. Some of us are blessed enough to have a job where it doesn’t feel like work. I always say that if you find a career you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Sometimes, however, it’s not easy, and not all of us have jobs where we can say we love what we do and that it’s easy. Get over it. It’s the curse of man that we all have to suffer until the day our Lord returns.
You’re A Hypocrite
And you’re not a hypocrite? Everybody is a hypocrite. When our parents lecture us on something bad we’ve done even if they’ve done it in the past, it’s because they know from experience that it was a mistake because of the consequences that came with them and they don’t want to see us make the same, or worse, mistakes. Believe it or not, it’s for our own good. So get off your high horse and listen to your parents when they tell you not to do something, or when you should do something.
Go Away/Leave Me Alone
When you get to be my age (I’m 26, so I’m not old), you miss spending quality time with your parents. When I was in the Army, the first thing I learnt that’s extremely important to me is family. It wasn’t until then that I realised how important my family is to me. Now, as a veteran, I try to spend as much time with them as time allows. Next year, when I move to St. Louis for seminary, my parents will be in two separate states than I am, so it’ll be even more difficult. When you demand isolation from your family, you’re only losing time to spend with them. You get old fast, and you never know what may happen. Our parents won’t be around forever. Spend time with your family as often as you can; it doesn’t last forever.