When Parents Disappoint
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU FEEL YOUR PARENTS DID YOU WRONG
by: Allen Domelle
We all have them. We didn’t choose them. They didn’t choose us. They will have us for the rest of their lives. We will have them for the rest of their lives. In fact, God didn’t even give us a chance to trade them in for a better model. Whether good or bad, we are stuck or blessed with each other for the rest of our lives. Yes, I am talking about your parents!
I’m amazed at a society that seems to disdain and attack their parents. I come from a generation where most seemed to revere and honor their parents. If someone said something bad about our parents, that was fighting ground. I come from a generation where you were aware that you just didn’t say bad things about your parents.
Yet, today we have a generation of adult children who, when their parents are gone or of the age that they really don’t feel like fighting, they smear their name or attack how they were reared. We live in a generation who thinks they know more than their parents, even though this generation has not really done anything great. My heart goes out to these parents who have given everything they had to make sure their children had the best, and yet their children are unappreciative and don’t give them the respect they deserve.
On the other hand, I also understand there are times when parents truly disappoint their children. Children have to carry the baggage of their parents crimes or misjudgments. I am not talking about disagreements here, I am talking about children who have to change the bad reputation that their parents gave them.
This article is not about judging whether your parents are right or wrong. The purpose of this article is to help those who for whatever reason feel their parents have disappointed them. This article is for those who feel that their parents have done them wrong. I’m not saying that your parents have done you wrong, I’m simply saying that you feel they’ve done you wrong. What do you do when this happens?
Ephesians 6:1-2 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)” The key word in these verses is the word “honour.” God understood that children would not always agree with their parents. God understood that at times children would feel their parents did them wrong. Yet, in both cases God still expects the children to honor their parents. God didn’t say honor them when you agree with them. He didn’t say honor them only when you feel like they’ve not done you wrong. God says that we are to honor them, period!
So, what does it mean to honor our parents? Honoring your parents means to respect them simply for who they are. In other words, they are your parents, and you should hold them in regard because of that. It doesn’t say you have to like what they have done. It doesn’t say you have to personally like them. It doesn’t say you have to like what they do, but it does say you are to honor them. You are to respect them because they hold the position of parent in your life. Honoring your parents means to give them the dignity their position deserves. In other words, you don’t talk bad about them. You don’t talk about them in a derogatory manner. You don’t address them in the wrong way. You address them as your parents, and not by calling them by their first name. You honor your parents by doing what they’ve reared you to do. You honor your parents by not destroying their name with a wicked lifestyle. Whether or not you agree with your parents, you are to honor them.
The question one would ask is, to what degree do I honor them? The verses above are very interesting in that one verse commands children to obey their parents, and the other verse commands them to honor their parents. Notice, a child is to obey their parents, “in the Lord.” As long as your parents don’t tell you to do something that goes against the Word of God, then you are to obey them. Yet, honoring is something that can be done whether or not they are living a godly life, and whether or not they have treated you right. Honoring is something you do because of their position.
Because parents are human, and because we are human, there are going to be times when we disagree with our parents. Sadly, there may be times when our parents do something that hurts us. When parents do something that hurts you, you will be tempted to get even with them for the wrong you feel they have done to you. Again, let me make this clear, I’m not saying your parents have hurt you, I’m saying you perceive they have hurt you. In these instances, it would be wise to know how to respond when you feel your parents have hurt, wronged or disappointed you. Let me give you seven things to do when you feel your parents have done you wrong.
1. Remember the good they have done.
When parents wrong their children, it is very common for a child to completely forget all the good they did in their life. What your parents did may be severe, but you can always remember the good they did for you. Sometimes a child may have to look at their parent’s life in two separate windows. You may have to divide the good and the bad. But, when you divide them, you need to focus on the good times you had together. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” This will be a decision you have to make. You will have to decide to look at the good, for human nature will steer you to look at the bad. Choose to remember the good that your parents did for you.
2. Don’t throw out the good that they taught.
We often hear the statement, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” I would like to turn that around and say, “Don’t throw your parent’s teachings out with the bathwater.” Okay, so your parents have done wrong and hurt you, that doesn’t mean the truths they taught you were bad. I have watched many young people completely throw everything out that their parents taught them because their parents hurt them so deeply. I beg you not to do this. Just because your parents may have fallen in sin does not mean all the good they taught you is bad. The scriptural truths they taught you are still true and right. Don’t throw that out simply because your parents have acted like sinful human beings.
3. Remember, your children are watching you.
You’ve heard the statement, “What goes around, comes around.” This is very true. God says in Galatians 6:7, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” The laws of sowing and reaping apply to you. If you mistreat your parents because you feel they wronged you, then you are training your children how to treat you if you ever wrong them. Don’t kid yourself, you are not the perfect parent. You will probably do something with which your child won’t agree and it may disappoint them or hurt them. I know, you don’t plan on it, but you’re human, and as humans we are prone to do things that hurt others. So, when you feel your parents have wronged you, treat them the same way you’ll want your children to treat you when you wrong or disappoint them. Most likely your children won’t agree with everything you do. So, remember that you’re children are watching how you treat your parents when they’ve wronged or hurt you. You are training them how to treat you in the future.
4. You are to still give them honor.
Honoring your parents is not something you do only when you agree with how they’ve treated you. Honestly, the test of how you honor your parents is how you treat them when they’ve wronged or disappointed you. That is the true test of whether you are honoring your parents. It’s easy to honor your parents when everything is well between the both of you, but how do you talk about them, address them and treat them when you disagree? God’s command is to honor them: NO MATTER WHAT!
5. Don’t live your life to get even.
Romans 12:19 says, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” Living your life to get even with your parents is the worst way you can live life. Vengeance belongs to God. Trying to prove to your parents that you know better than they do is not what God wants you to do. Let God take care of how your parents have treated you. Trust me, God knows how to take care of your parents better than you do. A person who lives their life to get even with their parents is a person who lives a miserable life. Life is too short to live it to prove your parents wrong. Move on and leave God’s business to Him.
6. Learn from their weaknesses.
So, let’s say that your parents have truly wronged you or disappointed you. That still does not give you a right to try to destroy them. Instead, you would be wise to learn from their weaknesses and try avoiding the same mistakes yourself. Proverbs 19:25 says, “Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge.” One of the great things about living after your parents is that you can learn from their mistakes, or I should say, you should learn from their mistakes. One of the saddest things I have watched is people who despise their parents who end up falling into the same mistakes their parents made. I have watched children who despise that their parents were always gone when they were young, and yet they do the same thing themselves and don’t even realize it. If your whole life is focused on how to get even with your parents, or avoiding anything that your parents taught you, then you are missing one of the greatest assets God has given you; the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Every child should live a better life than their parents because they have their life to study. You don’t try to be better than your parents to prove to them that you are better, but you do better because you are supposed to do better. We often say that the one thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history. Don’t let your parent’s mistakes go to waste. Learn from them and don’t make the same mistakes yourself.
7. Don’t let the hurt or disappointment destroy your relationship.
You only have one set of parents. Don’t let hurts and disappointments destroy a unique relationship that you can only have with one set of people; your parents. You can always call someone else your parents, but that doesn’t take away the fact of who your parents truly are. One day you will wish you had a good relationship with your parents, but it will be too late if you let hurt and disappointment destroy it.
Job asked in Job 8:11, “Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water?” The “rush” was used as a wick for candles and lamps. As much as they liked to use the rush as a wick to lighten a dark room, the rush cannot grow with the mire and mud. Likewise, every good relationship has to look beyond the mire to find the rush to lighten their life. I challenge you to overlook the mire of hurt and disappointment so you can have a relationship with your parents that will be cherished.
My mother is in Heaven. I look back at my mother’s life and I feel blessed to have had her in my life. Was she perfect? No, she had some weaknesses, but there was a whole lot more good than bad. I’m so glad that I didn’t let little things destroy my relationship with my mother. Though my mother never did anything that would hurt me or disappoint me, there were times when I was still under her roof when I didn’t agree with her. Now that she is in Heaven, I have no regrets of wishing I would have done things differently. You won’t always have your parents. You may not always agree with your parents, you may not agree with their lifestyle, and you may have had to deal with some hurtful and disappointing times, but don’t let those times destroy everything they’ve done. Leave your parents with some dignity and move on. If you try to destroy your parents and what they’ve done, then you are only showing how little of a life you have.
Honoring your parents comes with the promise of long life. I don’t know if God is exactly talking about living long as in a time span, but I do believe He is talking about a quality of life. If you want to have a life filled with joy and happiness, then look beyond the hurts and disappointments you feel your parents may have caused, and honor them by building a good relationship on those things which you do agree upon.
Allen Domelle is the editor of the Old Paths Journal which is more than just a Christian’s publication. It is an excellent place to learn how today’s headlines will forge tomorrow’s laws and statutes. Keep yourself in tune with what is happening around the world, as well as in your own backyard with our daily updates and devotionals.