How Do You View Your Parents?
1-3. (a) What does a person’s attitude toward his parents tell about him? (b) What attitude do the young folks you know have toward their parents? Do you agree with them? (c) What kind of training can help a young person to respect his parents, and why?
WHEN others tell you how they feel about their parents, they are also telling you something about themselves. Yes, what you say and do toward your parents reveals what is in your own mind and heart. It tells a lot about the kind of person you are right now. It also gives a clear indication of the kind of person you are likely to become in the future. This is because behavior patterns that you develop at home gradually become a part of you.
2 Some young people develop a negative attitude toward their parents in nearly everything. Many feel that their parents never understand them or even try to, that they are hopelessly old-fashioned and cannot offer any useful guidance in this fast-moving world. This feeling soon grows into a general attitude of rebellion. If not curbed, it easily becomes a habit. It will show itself in dealings with people outside the family circle. And before you know where you are, it can also lead you into serious trouble because of an unwillingness to obey laws designed for the benefit and protection of human society.
3 Yet there are others who do not feel and act that way. They grow up to view their parents with respect. These young persons know why the world is in so much trouble and what the future holds for them. So they are not pressured into conforming to the negative attitude that others have. They appreciate that their parents have instilled in them respect for the highest principles of human behavior—those found in the inspired written Word of God. As the Bible counsels: “And you, fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.” These youths have responded to that training, and willingly play their part. As a result, they appreciate their place in the family arrangement. A good relationship exists in the home.—Ephesians 6:4.
OBEDIENCE DUE PARENTS
4-6. (a) What have your parents done for you thus far in life? (b) How can you show that you appreciate it? (Ephesians 6:1, 2)
4 But what about those whose parents do not attempt to teach them Bible principles? Does this mean they do not have to give their parents respect and obedience? While it is true that parental guidance is bound to suffer as it gets away from God’s standards, this doesn’t lessen the need for these youths to develop a good attitude toward their parents. Why not? There are several reasons.
5 Having never been on your own, you may not fully appreciate all that your parents have done for you. But stop and think: Since your birth, your father and mother have cared for you daily. They have provided food and clothing, and a home to live in, and have seen to your education.
6 If you had to hire someone to do what your parents have done for you since your birth, it would cost you a small fortune. Your parents deserve respect for all of that. Later, if you marry and become a parent, you will more fully appreciate how much your parents did for you. But why not show appreciation now? If you pay back some of the love you owe your parents by giving them respect and obedience, then you show that you are developing into a mature person, one who has good sense, one who values those who do him good.
7-12. (a) How should a young person view mistakes made by his parents? (Matthew 6:14, 15) (b) As shown in the Bible, what position has God given to parents? (Proverbs 6:20) Why is this a necessary arrangement? (c) How serious a matter is it to disobey one’s parents?
7 This is not to say that your parents are perfect. Of course they make mistakes. But so do you. Likely you make many more, since you don’t have their experience in life. Do you criticize your parents for their mistakes, yet expect them not to say anything about yours? To be consistent, you should learn to overlook mistakes they make, just as they have to overlook many that you make. And since they have the far heavier responsibility, it is understandable that they may fall short sometimes. The Bible principle holds good: “The one that does not practice mercy will have his judgment without mercy. Mercy exults triumphantly over judgment.”—James 2:13.
8 However, what you consider to be a parental mistake in some cases may simply be a viewpoint that differs from yours. When this is so, and your parents have taken a definite stand on the matter at issue, what should you do?
9 You need to keep in mind that the position of your parents is not the same as yours. A parent represents someone higher in God’s arrangement of things. God has given your parents authority and responsibility that you do not have as yet. Hence, final decisions in matters affecting you belong to your parents. That is why God’s Word counsels: “You children, be obedient to your parents in everything, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord.” Of course, this means obedience to everything your parents require that does not violate God’s laws.—Colossians 3:20.
10 You see, there has to be order in human society. Without order, there would be confusion, even anarchy. For example, a sailor doesn’t dictate to the captain how to run the ship, nor does a ball player tell the manager how to handle the ball club. It is true that a good captain and a good manager welcome and, in fact, encourage suggestions from those under their direction. However, if they allowed others to order them around and dictate what should be done, their authority would soon be undermined, and confusion and disorder would result. Don’t you agree?
11 So, too, there has to be order in the family circle. And there God has assigned the father as the head, with the mother cooperating closely. Both parents have been appointed as supervisors of their children. So when your parents place certain requirements on you, such as the time you must be indoors at night, with whom you can associate, the way you groom yourself, and so forth, and you obey them, then you are respecting God’s arrangement. When you disobey your parents, you are disrespecting the arrangement of God. That means clashing with God, the Creator of both you and your parents! And you know who will be the loser there. So, how you respond to the direction of your parents reflects how you feel about the One who is higher than they are and to whom they are under obligation to submit, Jehovah God.
12 That is why God’s Word says: “The eye that holds a father in derision and that despises obedience to a mother—the ravens of the torrent valley will pick it out and the sons of the eagle will eat it up.” Yes, a wrong attitude toward parents may cost youths their lives.—Proverbs 30:17.
LESSONS LEARNED FROM SUBORDINATION
13-17. (a) How can your learning to respect and obey your parents help you when you become a parent? (b) How can it help you at school and when you work for an employer? (c) More importantly, how will it affect your standing with God?
13 Someday, when you are of legal age and perhaps have a family of your own, wouldn’t you want your children to give you respect and obedience? But if you haven’t learned how to do that with your own parents, is it likely that you will train your children very successfully in their giving such respect? You reap what you sow, says the Bible. (Galatians 6:7) Learn how to cope with the subordinate position you are in now, and that will help you to cope with the greater responsibility of adulthood, and perhaps parenthood, later on.
14 Also, if you develop a negative attitude toward your parents, it can show up in other things you do later. For instance, if you work for an employer, will you always resent his authority over you? When he gives you something to do, will you find it difficult to comply? Will you constantly complain about your work? And what about your attitude toward those with whom you work? You may find yourself always complaining about them, never thanking them for the good things they may do for you. Or if you go to school to learn a trade, or are being trained on the job, after a few weeks you may begin to feel that you know more than your instructor. All these attitudes may easily cause you much grief and trouble. They can be the fruitage of having developed the wrong attitude toward your parents in the first place.
15 Hence, accept the reality of family life and your position in it. Appreciate that it is God’s way, and that his way is the very best.
16 But if you refuse to accept your proper place in the family during your teen-age years, then you are asking for trouble. Not only will it affect your relationship with your parents and others, as well as your later life; far more importantly, it will impair your standing with God. And he is the one who determines whether you will live forever in his new order, or will pass out of existence when this wicked system of things is soon destroyed. Respond to the appeal: “My son, my law do not forget, and my commandments may your heart observe, because length of days and years of life and peace will be added to you.”—Proverbs 3:1, 2.
17 Just think of the reward that persons will receive who observe the commandments of our heavenly Father and who don’t forget His law. The reward is “length of days and years of life and peace.” Is that what you want? Do you desire to live a long time, and really enjoy a peaceful, happy life? Then prove that you do by listening to God’s encouragement to be obedient to your parents.
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Do you give your parents the respect they deserve?