Friday, 5 August 2011

How I learnt to honour my parents...

Those words 'honor your father and your mother, that it may be well with you' from the Ten Commandments have always haunted me. For a long time I wasn't quite sure exactly what they meant, and even though my dad, like most parents always translated them to mean 'do as I say at all times', from a very young age I knew this was not the true meaning. If it was, it didn't make sense because in church they told us that we should only obey our parents if their instructions were right according to the Bible. So for example if your mum told you 'if Mrs so and so calls to ask for me, tell her I'm out' when she was actually home, you were supposed to say 'no mummy, that would be lying. You tell her yourself'. Or words to that effect. Obviously if you have the kind of parents I have, that was not even an option.

So I was reading a book a few months ago called 'Smart girls think twice' by Jan Silvious. Good book. In one of the earlier chapters, she basically broke down the ten commandments and related them to everyday life and it was here that I think I first got a good enough explanation of the whole honoring parents thing. I was pleased,  not because she said what I wanted to hear (far from it) but because it made sense, and it confirmed my suspicions that honoring your parents wasn't about obeying them in everything, it was about not being disrespectful to them and also about helping them out in their old age.

The first part has never been a problem for me, thanks to my parents' disciplining skills. But I must say I struggled with the second part. First of all, my parents are not that old. In fact, compared to some of my friends' parents, they're not old at all. So, helping them out financially is not something I really thought about doing when I left university and started my first job. But my parents are quite traditional. Sometimes too traditional for my liking. For example,  my mum told me that when she got her first salary, she took the lot and presented to her father as a gift. I guess that's the way things were done then, so my dad kinda expected me to do the same, or at least something similar. I was like, 'In your dreams!' Ok, I didn't quite say that but I was thinking it in my head. Come on, how am I supposed to pay for my rent and upkeep and everything else if I present my salary to my parents to do whatever they wish with? If you're reading this and you did something similar, good on you by the way.

I must say I'm not stingy (OK I'm working on being more generous with my money) but when my parents realised they were not going to see my salary (at least not all of it), they started hinting at other stuff like, 'you should help out with this, and you should help out with that' (I won't go into all the details but trust me, some of the expectations were mind-blowing!) I wasn't sure what to do, or where to start, because part of me was like 'allow me to enjoy my hard-earned money a bit first before giving me a list of what you expect me to do with it!'

Anyway, after I stressed out a lot about it, I decided to ask God for some help. Because I do appreciate my parents. My mum is an amazing woman, and I know she would do anything for me. My dad, well, if not for him I wouldn't be where I am today because he provided the tuition fees that meant I could get a degree and hence a good job. I realised that really, it was all to do with my heart. Yes, my parents don't need my money (they're both still working) but like Tesco says, 'Every little helps'. I decided that I would do my bit. No matter how small. I won't worry about the fact that I can't buy my dad a brand new car (yet) or put my younger ones through university (like my dad did with his). I'll only worry about the things I can do. Actually I won't worry at all. I believe that there's a blessing that comes with blessing our parents in cash and kind, and who couldn't do with some blessings in their life? For me, things started to change when I shifted my focus from my parents (and whether they really needed my money right now) to God, who asked me to honor them in the first place. My life is about pleasing Him, and even though I won't obey my parents in everything, my desire is to obey Him in everything.

p.s. I feel the need to clarify that I still need some work in this area. Anyone with some helpful advice should please share!


  1. I feel you. Both areas you spoke of are things i try to do. I cannot provide them with the best but its important to do something for them.

  2. Nice article, really sincere and frank. Like you said, tis the little things that count, does not matter how small. I send my mum money monthly, nothing extravagant but I started doing it when I got my first job and now I'm used to it. I figured that If I couldnt give her $10 out of the $100 I had, then I never would be able to give her a 100 grand if I had a million. You can bless people with the little you have, the amount doesnt matter, itz the thought and heart with which you give that counts. If you r faithful in little things, then you'll be faithful in the big things...To whom much is given, much is expected...the phrases are endless.

    On the other hand, my approach to giving changed the day I started paying my tithe (lol), which honestly speaking was about 2 years ago. I figured that if the Government could take a chunk of my money as tax (without asking for my opinion!), then what is 10% compared to the amount I pay on tax. And the 10% comes with a blessing, so itz a win-win situation. As for taxes, my opinion is that it should be scrapped, Caesar has collected way too much from my humble coffers! (lol)

    Excellent blog.

  3. @Chinny, thanks. I guess it's really just about doing something, no matter how small...

    @Anon, thanks for your comment and insight. I like the angle you look at it from. It is true what they say; 'if you can't be generous with little, you can't be generous with much'. LOL at Caesar- when I saw how much I paid in tax last month I almost cried! :) And yes, I agree that once you start tithing CHEERFULLY, your attitude to money changes somewhat. Thanks for sharing, I appreciate it.