It’s Important for Kids to Honor Their Parents

Arlene Pellicane
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If you were to ask your child what it means to honor you, what would she say? Maybe she might picture a special ceremony where you receive a certificate and bright gold star for good parenting. That’s not a bad place to start. But honor should not only be reserved for special occasions. In the Ten Commandments, the first four commandments address our vertical relationship with God. The fifth commandment is the pivot point to the remainder of the commandments, which deal with our relationships with people. It reads,

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Ex. 20:12).

Do you see how this commandment is foundational to all other social relationships and the following five commandments? It’s the bedrock of a decent and good society where there is respect for elders and authorities. Your relationship with your children is the basis for their other relationships in life.

Children, obey your parents is not a suggestion. It’s a command.”

The word honor derives from a root word meaning “weighty” (in terms of impressiveness or importance). When a child honors a parent, he assigns weight and importance to the words spoken by that parent. He honors the parent with appreciation, compliments, and praise. Children learn there is a loving moral authority to which they are accountable.

The apostle Paul quotes the fifth commandment along with this instruction: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise—‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth’” (Eph. 6:1–3).

Today it’s not unusual for a child to communicate with his actions or words, “You’re not the boss of me!” It’s common for teenagers to speak disrespectfully to their moms or dads. This is not how God designed the family to function. When the chain of command is broken, so is the home.

Children, obey your parents is not a suggestion. It’s a command. It’s not just for past generations of families. It’s for us. As our three children grow older (Ethan is now a middle schooler), James and I have made a point of saying, “You won’t always agree with us, and that’s fine. You can tell us your opinion and disagree. But we always insist you are respectful of us.”

Disrespect, which is the opposite of honoring, attacks your place of authority in your child’s life. Dr. John Townsend writes this in Boundaries for Teens:

Rather than the presence of something, disrespect is actually an absence of something, the absence of honor for someone, for respect conveys honor. You show honor to people by giving weight to what is weighty about that person: their role in your life, their authority, their care for you. When teens disrespect, they dismiss that honor. Instead, they have contempt for or anger at a person, or they simply ignore the person.

When this breakdown occurs, it impacts the “long life on the earth” the Bible promises to those who honor their father and mother. During an interview with me, John Rosemond explained the connection between the fifth commandment and a healthy society:

By carrying on family traditions and adhering to fundamental understandings of how a family should operate—when this is multiplied by millions of families—this is how you stabilize, perpetuate, and sustain culture. You live long in the land the Lord God has given you because you respect these traditions and you carry them on. It’s so vitally important to the strength of any culture that its child-rearing traditions are perpetuated from one generation to the next. Those childrearing traditions in the final analysis define the culture.

That is why honor is a very big deal. It ties one generation to the next and unleashes God’s favor. When honor of parents flourishes, so does a society. In the same way, when parents are routinely dismissed, ridiculed, and held in contempt (as in many teen sitcoms), civilized culture falters.

For Further Reading:

Parents Rising

by Arlene Pellicane

How to raise godly children in a godless world Do you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle? Against the culture, against the...

book cover for Parents Rising