Making Your Parents’ Hearts Rejoice
1. Why is it right to honor one’s parents?
WHETHER we are still very young, are moving into adulthood, or are now grown men and women, all of us are someone’s children. It would be hard to estimate the worth of all the 20 years or so of care, work, money and self-sacrificing effort that have been expended on most of us from infancy to adulthood. And, in reality, our parents gave each of us something we cannot possibly give to them in return. For, whatever else we may owe them, we owe them our present life. Without them, we would not be. This obvious truth of itself should be more than enough reason for heeding the divine command: “‘Honor your father and your mother’; which is the first command with a promise: ‘That it may go well with you and you may endure a long time on the earth.’”—Ephesians 6:2, 3.
2. Why should we feel indebted to our parents?
2 While we are first indebted to our Creator as the true Source of all life, we should feel a deep sense of indebtedness to our parents. What can we give to them in exchange for what they gave us? God’s Son said that all the world’s possessions cannot buy life, for you simply cannot put a price tag on life. (Mark 8:36, 37; Psalm 49:6-8) God’s Word tells us: “Do not you people be owing anybody a single thing, except to love one another.” (Romans 13:8) In a special way, we should feel moved to keep giving love to our parents as something owed them as long as they and we live. While we cannot give them life as they gave it to us, we can contribute to them something that makes life worth living. We can contribute to their joy and their feeling of deep satisfaction. We can do that in a special way that possibly no other persons can, for we are their children.
3. According to Proverbs 23:24, 25, what qualities in a child can contribute toward his parents’ joy?
3 As Proverbs 23:24, 25 says: “The father of a righteous one will without fail be joyful; the one becoming father to a wise one will also rejoice in him. Your father and your mother will rejoice, and she that gave birth to you will be joyful.” It is a natural desire of parents to be able to take pride in what their children do, to find pleasure in them. Is that the case with our parents?
4. What does Colossians 3:20 direct children to do?
4 In large measure that depends on whether we genuinely respect their position and listen to their counsel. For those who are still young, God’s counsel is: “Children, be obedient to your parents in everything, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord.” (Colossians 3:20) “Everything” clearly does not mean that parents have authority to require things out of line with God’s Word, but it does show that, while we are young, they are responsible to guide us in all aspects of life.—Proverbs 1:8.
5. What might a young person ask himself as to what he would expect from children of his own?
5 Are you now young? Someday you may be a parent. Would you want children who treated you with respect, or children who were defiant, perhaps who pretended to listen, but who disobeyed when out of your sight? Rather than bringing joy, Proverbs 17:25 says: “A foolish son is a vexation to his father and a bitterness to her who gave him birth.” (The Bible in Living English) Just as you have a special ability to make your parents happy, you also, more than any other persons, can bring them deep sadness and disappointment. Your conduct will determine which way it will be.
ACQUIRING WISDOM TAKES TIME
6. What illustration shows that wisdom usually comes with age?
6 It is good for youths to appreciate that age is an important factor in acquiring wisdom. Are you 10 years old now? You can see that you know more than when you were five, can’t you? Are you 15? You know more than when you were 10, don’t you? Are you approaching 20? You must appreciate that you know still more than when you were 15. It is easy to look back and see that age makes you wiser, but it is difficult to look ahead and accept this truth. No matter how wise a young person may feel, he or she should realize that the future can and should bring greater wisdom.
7. What lesson about wisdom can we learn from the counsel given to King Rehoboam?
7 What is the point of this? That your parents, because they are older than you and have more experience than you do, reasonably are also wiser than you in coping with the problems of life. This is difficult for many young persons to accept. They may refer to older persons as “old fogies.” Some may be, but many are not, no more than all young persons are irresponsible just because some are. It is not unusual for the young to think themselves wiser than the old. A king of Israel made this blunder, with disastrous results. When 41-year-old Rehoboam succeeded his father Solomon as king, the people asked that their burdens be made lighter. Rehoboam consulted older men, who counseled gentleness and kindness. He then went to young men and they advised harsh measures. He took their advice. The result? Ten of the 12 tribes rebelled and Rehoboam was left with only about one sixth of his kingdom. The aged, not the young, gave the wise counsel. “Is there not wisdom among the aged and understanding in length of days?”—Job 12:12; 1 Kings 12:1-16; 14:21.
8. What attitude toward older persons, including parents, does the Bible encourage?
8 Do not consider the advice of your parents outdated just because they are no longer youths. Rather, as God’s Word says: “Listen to your father who caused your birth, and do not despise your mother just because she has grown old.” Age deserves respect. “Before gray hair you should rise up, and you must show consideration for the person of an old man, and you must be in fear of your God. I am Jehovah.” True, many young people ignore these commands. But doing so has not brought happiness—not to themselves and certainly not to their parents.—Proverbs 23:22; Leviticus 19:32.
DO YOUR PART
9. How is a family affected when one of its members complains needlessly or rebels?
9 There is no getting around it—what you do affects other people. If one member of the family suffers, all are disturbed. Also, if one is a complainer or a rebel, the peace of the entire family is disrupted. In order to have a happy family life, each one must do his part.—Compare 1 Corinthians 12:26.
10. Why is it beneficial for children to learn to do good work?
10 There are positive, constructive things that you can do. Parents work hard to care for the needs of the family. If you are young and living at home, you can help. Much of life is spent at work. Some people complain about it. But if you learn to do good work and to do it with a good motive, it will bring genuine satisfaction. On the other hand, a person who doesn’t do his share but expects others to do everything for him never knows that satisfaction, and he is a source of irritation to others, as the Bible says, just like ‘smoke in one’s eyes.’ (Proverbs 10:26; Ecclesiastes 3:12, 13) So, when chores are assigned to you at home, do them and do them well. And if you really want to bring pleasure to your parents, do some extras, without being asked. You will probably find that work the most enjoyable of all—because you did it simply out of your heart’s desire to bring happiness to them.
11. How can a child’s words or actions reflect favorably on his parents?
11 When people are impressed by a young person, they almost always want to know whose child he or she is. When young David demonstrated remarkable courage and faith, King Saul right away asked: “Whose son is the boy?” (1 Samuel 17:55-58) You bear your family’s name. What you do and the kind of person you are will affect the way people view that name and the parents who gave it to you. There are so many ways you can bring honor to your parents—in your neighborhood and at school—by showing kindness, helpfulness, respect and friendliness to others. And at the same time you thereby honor your Creator.—Proverbs 20:11; Hebrews 13:16.
12. Why is it good for children to cooperate with the efforts of their parents to train them?
12 Your parents’ happiness is bound up with your own. Their efforts at training you are aimed to give you a good start on the road of life. Cooperate with them and you will give them great pleasure, for they want the best for you. As the inspired writer expressed it: “My son, if your heart has become wise, my heart will rejoice.” (Proverbs 23:15) If your parents recognize their responsibility before God to guide you in ways of true wisdom, help them to discharge that responsibility faithfully. “Listen to counsel and accept discipline, in order that you may become wise in your future.”—Proverbs 19:20.
13. What might help a child to have the right view of restrictions that are imposed by his parents?
13 There may be times when you feel that your parents require too much of you or that the restrictions are too many. To achieve the right balance in matters of discipline is not easy. Someday, if you have a family, you may find that you face the same problem. If your parents restrict your association with certain youths, or guard you against the use of drugs, or limit your association to some extent with those of the opposite sex, stop and think how much better it is to have parents who discipline than to have ones who don’t care! (Proverbs 13:20; 3:31) Heed their discipline. You’ll benefit yourself and make their hearts rejoice.—Proverbs 6:23; 13:1; 15:5; Hebrews 12:7-11.
14, 15. When problems arise among family members, the application of what Bible principles might help a child to preserve peace?
14 Of course, many situations that arise at home are not of your own making. But how you react influences the atmosphere of the household. The Bible counsels: “If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men.” (Romans 12:18) It is not always easy to do this. We are all different; we see things differently and react differently. There will be conflicting opinions and desires. Suppose the conflict is with your brother or sister. You may feel that the other person is being selfish. What will you do?
15 Some children would promptly shout an accusation and demand that one of their parents intervene. Or, they might take things into their own hands, shoving and hitting, in order to get their way. But an inspired proverb says: “The insight of a man certainly slows down his anger.” (Proverbs 19:11) In what way? In that it causes him to consider extenuating circumstances. (Perhaps the act was not deliberate.) It makes him remember the many times when he himself has been in the wrong. (And how grateful he is for God’s forgiveness!) It may also make him realize that, even if his brother or sister is in the wrong, it would still be wrong on his part to let his anger disrupt the peace of the entire household. Of a person with such insight, the proverb goes on to say: “It is beauty on his part to pass over transgression.”—See also Colossians 3:13, 14.
16. What course of conduct on the part of their children makes God-fearing parents rejoice?
16 Basically, what makes God-fearing parents rejoice is the same as what makes the heart of Jehovah rejoice. What makes them feel hurt is what makes him feel hurt. (Psalm 78:36-41) Parents who do not know the mind of Jehovah God may rejoice if their children become popular in the world, make a name for themselves, make lots of money, and so on. However, parents having Jehovah as their God know that this world and its desires are passing away but that “he that does the will of God remains forever.” (1 John 2:15-17) So, what really makes them happy is to see their children obey their Creator, do his will and reflect his qualities. It is true that godly parents are happy when their children do well in their studies at school. But they are happier when their conduct at school and elsewhere reflects loyalty to God’s standards and a desire to please him. And they are especially pleased when those children continue to find pleasure in Jehovah’s ways right on up through their adult life.
RESPONSIBILITY TO CARE FOR PARENTS
17-19. How might adult sons and daughters show that they appreciate their parents?
17 Our concern for our parents should not cool off if we leave home when we have grown up. We want them to be happy throughout their lives. For many years they cared for our needs, often at considerable sacrifice to themselves. What can we do now to show that we are appreciative?
18 We can keep in mind the godly requirement: “Honor your father and your mother.” (Matthew 19:19) We may be busy. But we need to realize that it means a great deal to our parents to hear from us and to have us visit them.
19 As the years pass, “honor” may be shown in other ways. If there is need for material help, show appreciation for all that they did for you, and also for Jehovah’s righteous requirements. The apostle Paul wrote concerning those who are elderly: “If any widow has children or grandchildren, let these learn first to practice godly devotion in their own household and to keep paying a due compensation to their parents and grandparents, for this is acceptable in God’s sight.”—1 Timothy 5:3, 4.
20, 21. (a) According to Matthew 15:1-6, what does honoring one’s parents include? (b) Is there something that would excuse a person from honoring his parents in this way?
20 The fact that “honor” to one’s parents may include material support is clearly shown in the Scriptures. On one occasion the Pharisees had accosted Jesus and accused his disciples of violating traditions. Jesus countered: “Why is it you also overstep the commandment of God because of your tradition? For example, God said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Let him that reviles father or mother end up in death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother: “Whatever I have by which you might get benefit from me is a gift dedicated to God,” he must not honor his father at all.’ And so you have made the word of God invalid because of your tradition.”—Matthew 15:1-6.
21 By declaring that their money or property was “a gift dedicated to God” they were, according to tradition, freed of responsibility to care for their parents. But Jesus did not agree. And we today need to take this to heart. It is true that, as a result of “social welfare” in many lands, some needs of elderly parents may be cared for. But is the provision really sufficient? If not, or if there is no such provision at all, children who honor their parents will do what they can to fill any actual lack. Indeed, caring for one’s aged parents who are in need is, as the apostle Paul said, an evidence of “godly devotion,” of one’s devotion to Jehovah God himself, the Originator of the family arrangement.
22. What besides material things should we give to our parents?
22 We should never think, however, that if parents in their later years have suitable food, clothing and shelter, nothing more is required. They also have emotional and spiritual needs. They need love and reassuring attention, many times desperately so. All our lives we need to know that someone feels love for us, that we belong to someone, that we are not alone. Children should not turn away from their elderly parents, as to either their physical or emotional needs. “He that is maltreating a father and that chases a mother away is a son acting shamefully and disgracefully.”—Proverbs 19:26.
23. How can a child be a source of joy to his parents?
23 From youth on into adult life, children have an important place in the lives of their parents. Many children are a source of grief and disappointment. But if you respect your parents’ position and listen to their counsel, if you express genuine love and affection for them, you can be a daily source of joy to their hearts. Yes, “give your father and your mother cause for delight, let her who bore you rejoice.”—Proverbs 23:25, New English Bible.