Our parents influence us


Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12 (NLT)

Your parents taught you about nurture, safety, provision, authority, parenting—not just by their words, but in how they acted and reacted to you, to each other, and to others. You learned about feelings, fear, fellowship, fairness, fighting—by watching and experiencing life together.

Put a tablespoon of water (representing you as a baby) in a clear glass. Add 2 drops of food coloring—the influence of your father and mother. The color is strong. Add a cup of water—the volume of experiences in your life while you were still part of your parents’ household. The color dilutes but remains visible. As we add more water—more years of experiences—the color fades, but it never disappears entirely. . . .

The fifth commandment tells us to honor our parents. There are no conditional clauses. This is easy when our parents are wise, but what about when we disagree with them? It doesn’t matter where fault lies or whether or not the offenses are rooted in fact—our perceptions are colored by what we hold in our hearts, often from an early age.

Children who have been dishonored by their parents will dishonor their parents—parents reap what they have sown (Galatians 6:7–8). Children who have dishonored their own parents will have trouble showing honor to their spouses and their own children. In their dishonor toward their parents’ marriage or parenting, they sow dishonor, and they will reap the consequences. But we don’t have to be stuck in this generational circle of dishonor.

Honor means showing respect and recognition of another as a person. It means doing your part to be in a right relationship with another. We have to be able to separate honor and dishonor based on performance—personhood and behavior are not the same thing.

One of the most profound ways to honor your parents is to forgive them. Acknowledge that they are wonderfully made, thank God for giving them to you as parents, and forgive them for any wounds that they may have caused. Pray for forgiveness for your own judgments. When we choose to stop blaming and to let go of these judgments, we honor our parents and release the blessing of God back in our own lives. By doing this we declare that we trust in God alone to be the righteous judge.

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