"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you." (Exodus 20:12)
God commands all of us to honor our fathers and mothers. This command does not have a condition, but it does have a reward.
Because this command is unconditional, we are to honor our parents all the time. We will honor them when they are honorable, and we still must honor them even at times when we think or feel like they do not deserve to be honored.
But how do we honor our parents when they speak and act like a people that we really don't like? How do we honor them when we see them and think of them as a people that do not deserve to be honored?
When our parents become deplorable
It's easy to honor parents who take such good care of their children.
It's easy to honor fathers who work hard to provide for their families and continue to be faithful to their wives years and decades into the marriage.
It's also easy to honor mothers who work hard and take good care of their children, do not gossip, and are faithful and respectful towards their husbands.
But when fathers and mothers speak and act in ways that are shameful, spiteful, and unpleasant, honoring them becomes difficult, if not impossible to do.
How do you honor a father who abandons his own children and wife and engages himself in an adulterous affair? Or a father who works but does not provide for his family so he can spend his income on his vices?
How do you honor a mother who spends her time gossiping with friends, does not take care of her family, and flirts with other men?
Of course, I know the common answer to that would be "that's hard" or "I don't know."
Still, God's command to honor them remains the same, regardless of whether they're honorable or not.
How to honor them
Honoring God will mean honoring our parents regardless of their status. As such, we should be motivated to honor them because we want to honor God.
Here are some ways to honor our parents if we think they don't deserve it.
1) Do not speak ill of them
No matter how bad our parents could be, we must choose never to speak ill of them. We must not destroy them with our words. We must be careful not to put them to shame with our lips.
Their failure to treat us well does not give us a license to dishonor them. If anything, it gives us more reasons to do good to them.
2) Do not retaliate when they do something wrong to you
As mentioned, we aren't entitled to treat our parents wrongly in exchange for their wrongful treatment of us. We should not seek revenge, especially against our very parents.
Instead of retaliating, choose to simply leave their presence for a time. This prevents us from retaliating, and stops them from hurting us even more.
3) Do not stop praying for them and loving them
Lastly, let us not give up in praying for our parents. God loves them more than we do, and will always want to help us in building strong Christ-centered relationships with our families.
Keep loving them and praying for them. They need it.