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How Do Adult Children Honor Their Parents?

By Dr. Don Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
Parents want to feel appreciated by their adult children, and secure in their love.

Family Counseling Ministries   -

Have you managed to convince yourself that the biblical command, “Honor your father and your mother,” is meant only for young children? In the second of three articles on parenting adult children, Dr. Dunlap explains that this command applies even to grown children. It’s true, God does not command us, as adults, to obey our parents. However, He instructs us to demonstrate honor and respect for them. Find out how!

The biblical command, “Honor your father and your mother,” is not meant exclusively for young children. Adult children should honor their parents as long as they live. It is important to note that in the Old Testament command, God does not instruct us to honor our mothers and fathers if they good, effective parents. We are to honor them because of their God-given positions in our lives—a position of authority when we are young, and of counsel when we are adults. God knew exactly what each of our parents would be like before He entrusted us to their care and upbringing, whether it was good or bad. He used the uniqueness of the parents He gave us to accomplish His specific will in each of our lives.  

Many adults, however, do not know how to demonstrate honor and respect for their parents.  I encourage adult children to work hard at communicating their profound “debt of love” to their parents.  Let them know that you are happy and fulfilled.  Take advantage of their wise counsel. Find creative ways to thank them for all that they have done to make your life successful. Even the worst of parents usually contributed something of value to their children’s lives. Ask God to reveal those things to you. Plan little surprises for them from time to time, and spend time with them as consistently as possible.  Mark a calendar to help you remember special occasions in their lives.  Take the time to write special thank-you notes for their many acts of kindness.  Teach your children to write notes of gratitude to acknowledge gifts that they receive from them. Pre-address and stamp several envelopes to have on hand for mailing young children’s artwork to grandparents.   

Parents especially enjoy phone calls from their children and grandchildren who live too far away for frequent personal visits. Grandchildren might even encourage grandparents to brush up on their computer skills and take advantage of email, as a fun way of communicating with one another.  

3.      Parents want to feel secure in your love for them. 

Adult children, do you love your parents?  Keep in mind that love is far more than a feeling, and we can experience love even when no feelings exist. Regularly express your love to your parents, both verbally and with specific acts of kindness.  Look for areas of need in their lives, and make any personal sacrifices necessary in order to fulfill those needs.  Are they experiencing financial hardship?  Ask God for the wisdom and ability to offer them financial assistance in a manner that preserves their dignity. 

Tend to them personally, if possible, during times of illness, or see to it that someone else cares for them properly.  Assure them that you will be there for them as they grow older and let them know they can rely on you to see to all the details of their personal affairs when they die. 

4.      Parents want to feel appreciated for the things they have done in the past, and for the things they are presently doing. 

When parents love their adult children with Christ-like love, there are “no strings attached.”  Parents, nevertheless, take great satisfaction in seeing their adult children demonstrate a grateful spirit.  The writer of Romans 13:8 exhorts Believers, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”  When adult children express their heartfelt gratitude to their parents for their love, encouragement, affirmation and support, they become a great source of blessing to them.   



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