How to honor dishonorable parents

Put Your Parents in Their Place

Posted by danieljkoren on July 29, 2011 in Devotional |
Keep your nest clean by honoring your parents

A bluebird takes out the trash

On the subject of honoring dishonorable parents, I heard a saying from my wife’s family:

“It’s a poor bird that poops in its own nest.”

We have a bluebird house in our yard and my kids have found it fascinating how these birds keep their home clean. Baby birds go to the bathroom in a white, diaper-like sack. The parents take these “diapers” out of the nest to keep the place clean. The bluebird will fly to a far away place and dump the trash. You can find these little, white, dried up balls of baby droppings on top of fence posts around the property.

Only a sick bird messes in the nest

Some humans do not have the sense of a bluebird. They dump on the whole family. People who gripe about their parents are sick birds. You cannot have a conversation with them without their dropping some bad story about how bad dad was or how hateful mom had been. What they forget is that they have to live in this nest they are filling with their droppings.

The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it. (Proverbs 30:17)

Forget your parents’ faults

To get over sick-bird syndrome you have to first admit that your parents are not responsible any longer for your faults. You cannot keep sweeping up your mistakes by blaming dad. You cannot mop up your miseries with mom any more. Forgive them. Take out the trash and stop bringing up everything they want to forget, too.

A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter. (Proverbs 11:13)

Like the bluebird, remove family messes far away and do not go back to them again.

Stop living in the past

Some people can be half a century removed from their childhood yet keep holding themselves down with it. Parents may be dead and gone, yet they only resurrect them to condemn them. Step up to the present by letting all those hurts go in weeping forgiveness. Such a person should admit that he may have made the same mistakes (and probably has) given the same circumstances. At the foot of the cross, let the Lord wash away all your bitterness.

He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart. (Proverbs 11:29)

Stop messing on your future

You guarantee that your children will complain about you if you try to make your parents look bad to them. You cannot punish your parents by revealing their secrets. You only punish yourself. Your kids will do what you do—resurrect all your mistakes instead of retain your good moments.
Do not dishonor parents in front of their own children. Why mess someone else’s nest? If you need to talk to a person about their flaws, do it away from the nest.

Rejecting all authority

Most people who dishonor their mother and father also disrespect all those in authority. The one who complains about parents probably also speaks against preachers and civil leaders. He or she is probably very critical of his or her own children, too. Usually a person who condemns everyone else is not happy with his or her own self.

There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health. (Proverbs 12:18)

How you treat your parents reflects on your view of God, too. What you say against mom and dad is what you are saying against the Lord, for He is the ultimate Parent. Your earthly parent-child relationship is patterned after the original, heavenly one.

Put your parents in their place

When you stop tearing down your family you will stop destroying your own self. Instead of being one of the fools who messes in his own nest by arguing with you folks to put them in their place, do what God asks of you. Put them in their proper place—the place of honor. Instead of ridiculing, condemning, or criticizing, find something to complement them about. Celebrate the good while overlooking the bad. You are not responsible for how your parents turn out, just how you respond. That understanding will help you learn how to honor your parents even if they are dishonorable.

I give thanks and credit to two wonderful parents who love me. We have had our share of misunderstandings, mistakes, and contentions like many families, but I can honestly say my heart is full of gratitude toward the people who put up with all my faults. I can do the same for them, if they have any.

I encourage you to read this hope-filled story of one man who had every reason to hate his deadbeat dad. Instead, his life blossomed to the fullest because he discovered the secret of scripture: how to honor dishonorable parents.


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  • C L Goodwin says:

    OK.. I’m setting her trying to figure out what part of this posting is going to be helpful to anyone. Just merely suggesting that every kid just get over their dysfunctional mother and father by dismissing their destructive and abusive ways, words and manners is ridiculous. If I had been an eight year old desperately searching the internet for some sort of help or hope for my home and came across this article, I would blame myself for my horrible parent’s dysfunctions. Then jump off a building to honor them so that neither of them would have to go to prison for eventually killing me later. See, most eight year olds are not going to understand praying and waiting on God to change Daddy and Mommy. This is where Christians and our ministry comes in the help those that are in need. This is why we have so many lost young adults. Sure, what a man does in his own household is his business until the most vulnerable within that household reaches out for help. That household MAY HAVE A PROBLEM. And shame on the man or woman that turns their back on someone that is helpless to this horrible situation. As a Christian society, we should be equipped to handle this intolerable situation before it turn tragic. We hear about these situations so often. Father or mother not happy with his life decisions. In their self-pity, they mentally and physically destroy the very children imprisoned to “honor” them. Paul said, “And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). Again, he wrote, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart” (Col. 3:21). How do you honor that which is not honorable? Here is your answer. Pray for your deliverance, ask someone outside your home for help and believe the God has inter seeded on your behalf. But follow your parents rules.

    • danieljkoren says:

      Thank you for your response. I did not write this with children in mind. This is written for adults who are now out of the home.
      I agree children of abusive parents should seek help.

  • Rosy says:

    I think this article is terrible. Yes you should honor your father and mother but you are making it seem as if it’s the childs fault. If you are beaten by a drunken father everyday and verbally abused by a drunken mother everyday, it’s extremely unsatisfying to basically say ‘get over it’ These are wounds that almost never heal and you are making it all seem as if it were the childs fault. More like, give your parents grace and pray for them, don’t act like what they did to you was insignificant.

    • danieljkoren says:

      Thank you for your honest assessment of my post. First, I am not writing to a child, but to an adult who has lived through such an experience. How did I make it seem as if the child were to blame for the parents’ behavior?
      Yes, it is crass to say “get over it.” However, the message of God’s Word is “overcome it.” The point is that once you are through all of that hurt and abuse, to turn and love those broken individuals who brought you into the world. You do not have to drag their name through the mud but you can still honor them and bring God glory in spite of what you have been through.

  • Anon says:

    What if your mother constantly pressured and harassed, beat you with a spoon when you fought back in self defense from being attack in school, and you suffered when you got to high school or hesitated when you were attacked in real life, harshly punishes you for lying but has no qualms lying herself or even siding with liars when its convenient for her or she wants to get back at you, ALWAYS sided with teachers no matter how terrible they were and regardless of how the rest of the class got on, and constantly knew where to slice your self esteem when you were feeling down and had no qualms kicking you when you were and had no problem doing this over a period of years, then barely felt any remorse for the above and wouldn’t let you ever talk about the above (such as when i brought this up after i had been assaulted and hesitated to defend myself because of how I was conditioned).

    How do you deal with the feelings then? And yes, I’ve tried praying, forgiving, sharing before the lord, etc, it just doesn’t seem to was off that easily.

    And no, I am not exaggerating about ANY of the above, I really would appreciate advice for handling this, and without it I find this article swallow and incomplete.

    And I’m sure theirs people much worse off than me reading.

    • danieljkoren says:

      Thank you for sharing your heart. You truly want healing.
      Yes, this blog post is incomplete; there are many aspects of this that need to be addressed that a simple post cannot do. It is important to realize that forgiveness is what you do through Christ. However, restoration for your friendship with that person depends on her. She has to confess and forsake her old ways.
      I would not attempt a “normal” relationship with someone who cannot be honest with themselves. This blog post was about forgiving and not continually reopening the wounds of the past. That might mean getting away from the unrepentant offender.

  • wynes says:

    your article is true in the “perfect world”. right now, i’m an adult living with my mom who is still horrible. In fact, just to make her point, she sort of adopted this girl from their hometown and continually compared me to her. To think that before this girl came into our lives, i have tried my best to please her, to continually forgive and build relationship with her (my mother). We do have our misunderstanding before but my loyalty and love is always with her even though she never showed any appreciation and even find times to say negative things about me. Then when this person she brought home, she is all different…she is all motherly…i feel bad and i want to die bec i feel like all my effort comes to waste…i’m not enough for her that’s why she didn’t show me those motherly love and she freely shows this to another??..Right now, i am struggling with just forgiving her and this person (who obviously took advantage of her), about honoring her..i don’t know..i’m still not pass beyond forgiving her EVERYDAY..

    • danieljkoren says:

      You need to move on. You cannot waste your life trying to fix a broke person. It sounds to me you have tried long enough to find her approval. If you are not a child dependent on her now, move on. Forgive and honor, but don’t make yourself a victim.

  • lisa mccarter says:

    This article would only be helpful in a few situations. I am a sold-out follower of Jesus Christ. In Him, I live and move and have my being. I am a happily married wife and mother of 4. 2 college age, 1 high school, and 1 elementary student. We are not a perfect family, but we love, respect, like and support each other. We love Jesus.
    I say this to say, that I am at peace with myself, live a successful live and feel accepted by LORD. However, my mother constantly wreaks havoc in the extended family. She single-handedly split up my Daddy’s family, her own siblings, and now she is doing it among her own children and grandchildren. She has harbored bitterness towards my Daddy’s family for over 50 years. She hates her brother and he has been dead for 10 years. Death does not satisfy her wrath. She openly shows favoritism to my youngest sister and her 4 children and does nothing and shows no love for the other 8 grandchildren. She lavishes time, attention, and gifts to these 4 grandchildren openly, knowing that it hurts the others. I have prayed and wept many tears for her, tried to go out of the way to do special things for her, but she is the hardest, most hate-filled person I have ever known. My Daddy has spoke to his pastor about her. He is at a loss. He is one of the finest people I know and I am sure this grieves him.She is at church everytime the doors are open, sings in the choir, and puts up a good front. Now, tell me how does your article apply in this situation.

    • danieljkoren says:

      Hey, I think I know her! I had her in mind when I wrote this article. Yes, she is your opportunity to give love when you do not get it in return. She is your chance to honor someone who does not deserve it. You honor her because of Christ in you. God favors those in Christ and calls us His children even though we are worthless.
      You do not have to shame her. It is not your job to change her. You bring God glory by respecting her in spite of herself. Your children get the chance to learn this, too.

  • R says:

    I loved my aging my mom like crazy. When she seemed to be declining, she asked me and my two young children to come live with her, and we happily accepted. I knew it would be a challenge, but I had no idea how hurt I would be by her words and actions. Initially we feuded, but I quickly realized that I would not change her and must do the changing. I thought God would somehow work a miracle in my life if I kept bending and serving. I spend most of my time wondering why she cannot be happy about anything we do for her. Why am I such a disapointment to her? My siblings that live very far away get to see “visiting mom” the woman I used to know and adore. They have no idea what it’s like to live with her, and they think I am the problem. My kids are begging me to move out and cut our losses. I know elderly parents still need us, but I don’t know how to deal with the daily hurt. I feel like an open wound that never gets time to form a scab or a scar.

    • danieljkoren says:

      I admire your commitment to her. How long have you had her and how often do you get a break? Will the others share responsibility?

  • Katharine says:

    I have some questions regarding honouring. How can I honour my mother when I live on the other side of the world and can’t physically help her while she is growing old?
    How can I honour my father when I don’t know him at all – he left when I was 3 years old? I could see him, as I know my family is aware of where he lives but maybe the wrong thing here is that I don’t wish to meet him.

    I speak to my mum every morning by phone or try and call every morning and tell her that I love her. I pray for both my parents every day. I was thinking of asking a priest to visit my mum every now and then when she is unable to attend church, as I know she will not request this for herself. Is this enough or can I do more? Or maybe I don’t understand fully the meaning of honouring.

    There is history with my family, my mum abused me, as well as my stepfather and there are struggles with my natural father. I have learnt to forgive and have Jesus in my life. My life is now amazing but need to know more about honouring.


    • danieljkoren says:

      It sounds like you are doing what you can to honor her. Meeting up with a parent who left you behind could be a challenge. It might bring healing or provide more hurts. I would pray and ask your heavenly Father to direct your actions in this area. More than human family members, you want to be closest to Him and honor Him in all you do.

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