Only one of the Big Ten comes with a promise. God viewed good relationships in the family with such importance that He offered an incredible reward. Paul writes, “’Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise—‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth’” (Eph. 6:2,3). God’s Word offers two incentives that could not be bought with money and that most people want more than anything else—a good life and a long life, a promise found in both old and new covenants. Every wise child is saying, “I’m going for it!” And if you are still drawing breath, you have a chance to fulfill it.

OBEYING THEM. The Scriptures say, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” This immediately precedes the quotation from the Old Testament about honoring. It doesn’t say, “…when they are right,” as if children can determine whether to obey or not. Obedience is not complicated: “What do you mean—clean my room?” Children who have learned to obey their parents are prepared to respond properly to authority, which will enable them to live joyfully and successfully. Young adults who did not learn to obey are dangerous to themselves and to others.


with questions. Ask them to help you with a true picture of who you are, your strengths and weaknesses. Parents are in the best position to give children the gift of self-awareness. Do not be defensive when they point out areas of weaknesses. They have studied you for years.

with time. When children who have left home call, it is usually received joyfully. Parents may be living with the silent regret of putting in too much time at work and not enough time with the family. Phone calls or a visit help them realize they still have a chance to finish their job. Write a Mother’s Day card, end an email asking for prayer, get Dad’s advice on a practical matter.


with money. They were likely generous with you. How about returning it? Think creatively of how you can honor them with thoughtful gifts.


with affection. Most parents want to show affection to their children, but if they didn’t get it, they may not know how to offer it. Give them a chance by showing it to them.

with service. I have two kinds of people around me, those that give ideas and those that do them. I need people to take things off my list. Do the dishes, take out the trash, mow the lawn, fix the shelf. Take it from a father of six—when my kids got it done, Dad was happy!


Honoring does not mean changing them. Many children try to change their parents. Obedience comes with no deals.

God gave you the right parents. You don’t need to wonder if God made a mistake. Ask Him why and He’ll probably tell you.

You are not a victim. All of us enter this world through an imperfect father and mother. Parents didn’t get to practice before they were thrown into the task. Maybe their parenting created some wounding. It happens often. Those wounds do not define you.

You are not entitled. Pride says, “I deserve better parents.” Humility honors the parents God gave you.


You are not their judge. You are your parents’ child, not their prosecuting attorney.


Heaven will bless you if you honor your parents for whatever they did give and forgive them in areas where they failed. Young adult: it’s not too late to honor them. Maybe you feel a level of remorse for not being a better child. Replace regret with repentance. Regret creates passivity—repentance creates activity. Repenting for criticism, laziness, or anger will turn your heart into good soil, and you can honor them the rest of their lives. (For a longer article write


  1. Elaine says:

    This is very good. As a young adult, I held on to bitterness and it has greatly affected my life; I did not pass tests, the root grew, and I have reaped. I did not forgive when I knew to, and have missed that blessing. Though I am now an older adult, I hope that repentance can somehow still bring fruit and hope of promise.

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