I love the show Modern Family, the lay out is pretty similar every episode, the lively and sweet family runs into an issue, there’s a little tension and a fair amount of ridiculousness, and in the end all is solved and the family has learnt something valuable and drawn closer as a result.
Sadly, real life rarely follows the same pattern. There are difficulties and upsets, and every family is different and has its own issues. I think our relationship with our parents particularly can be both amazing and hugely encouraging or quite damaging. More often than not, we’ll experience both.
To start with, parents come in all kinds of forms, you might live with both, or one, or go between, or you might not have parents, but carers or grandparents or other types of family (this post applies to those relationships too!)
It’s so varied that there’s not one quick fix to having a close and god-honouring relationship with your parents, but there are some ways you can create a connection that’s helpful and valuable. Just because you’re young it doesn’t mean you don’t have wisdom to give and change to bring about.
God calls us to honour our parents, and it’s so important that it’s actually one of the 10 commandments:
“Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord is giving you.” – Exodus 20:12
This is non-negotiable; God doesn’t tell us “Honour your father and mother, if they’re good parents”. You might not think your parents or parent figures make any effort to honour you, or there might be occasions when you think they aren’t, but God calls us to be gracious and honour them none the less.
Often, that looks like obedience. They’re older (don’t say that to them it doesn’t go down well), have more experience and, as hard as it is to admit, they often know better. It takes some humility, but there might be times when even if you disagree – like on what kind of events you can go to, curfew rules, what you’re allowed to watch or say or do – obeying them will demonstrate that you value them and want to honour them.
However, parents also get it wrong. They’re human just like us (a strange revelation but true!). It might be that your parents aren’t Christians, or strongly disagree with Christianity as a concept and therefore make it tricky for you to deepen and live out your faith at home. The rule of honouring your parents still applies here in worldly concerns like household chores or how much you’re allowed out, however when it comes to other things, for example if they encourage you to have a relationship where your boyfriend sleeps over, ultimately honouring God is a higher priority, because you’re not looking to please human beings, but to please Jesus:
“If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” – Galatians 1:10.
The Bible tells parents “do not exasperate (annoy) your children.” Ephesians 6v4.
Honest and open communication is something we should be aiming to create with our parents. It’s not always easy, but it’s important and helpful to be able to come to your parents without any anger or frustration left in your heart and be able to tell them what’s upsetting you or how they might be annoying you.
I remember really struggling when my mum and dad would tell me my outfits were inappropriate when I was comfortable in them and felt they weren’t an issue. Screaming matches and outright defiance got me nowhere, but when I calmly told them why it hurt me, how I felt it was damaging our relationship and asked them to trust me with my choices about clothing, the conversation was much more honest and I felt listened to.
There was, and will often need to be, a compromise, but putting more effort into the way I spoke to and acted towards my parents meant my relationship with them could grow and become more like the model of family God envisions for our lives.
It’s important to remember that you are not your parents. You might be super close with your parents, might really look up to them, or you might struggle with the choices they make, might hate the fact they got divorced or might simply not feel close to them. But we are called to honour our parents and be gracious to them, and if your parents aren’t Christians, that can be an incredible thing for them to see Jesus through your obedience.
If your relationship with your parents is causing you a lot of heart break, having someone in your church, a mentor, friend or youth leader to talk to about it and to ask the questions you can’t ask your parents is really valuable.
The most vital thing to hold onto is that God is the ultimate parent. He loves and cherishes you as no human being ever can, and putting your faith in him will never disappoint and will bring you complete joy and satisfaction!