“Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” Ephesians 6:2
The word “honor” carries the idea of respect, value, kindness, and gentleness. As Ephesians 6:2 says, this is the “first commandment with promise.” Long life and success are consequences when children honor their parents. Since this book is written for parents, we will address this subject from the parents’ point of view.
Honor creates a climate—an environment. So does disrespect. We cannot afford to accommodate disrespect in our homes. Direction in a home is not determined by what we teach but by what we tolerate.
It’s not the words but the tone that communicates honor or dishonor.
It’s not compliance but the countenance that demonstrates respect or disrespect.
It’s not the actions but the attitude that conveys honor or dishonor.
One Sunday morning at a church where I had come to minister, prior to the service the pastor’s wife brought their children into his office to meet my wife and me. It was obvious that these children had no interest in making our acquaintance. Both displayed a look of utter contempt and rolled their eyes as their parents introduced us to them. When the parents asked the children questions, they grunted their answers. In short, they had no respect for their parents, us, or anyone else. I said to my wife, “This is not going to turn out well in the long run.” That family has been plagued with heartache: children out of wedlock, jail time, etc. But that tragedy began when disrespect was permitted in their childhood. We cannot afford to put up with disrespect in our homes.
God has established the chain of authority that must be taught, modeled, and enforced within the home. Dad and Mom must demonstrate love and respect for one another. These two things, love and respect, are indispensable ingredients in the family unit. When the husband loves his wife and the wife reverences her husband (see Eph. 5:33), the children gain security from the godly order they see demonstrated in their home. Consequences of disrespect are division and divorce. By the way, it is possible to disagree with someone and remain respectful.
A comfort zone of disrespect creates a toxic environment. Some of us speak to our families in ways we would never communicate with those outside our family circles. The way we speak to our spouses influences the way our children view our spouses. Disrespect is deeply influential because it is easily duplicated.
Respect has to be taught. Children can be trained to honor someone’s achievements, position, age, family affiliation, and even their presence. My mother taught me to open doors for women. She also taught me to offer polite greetings: “Hello, how are you?” She taught me to thank others for their kindnesses. Respect can, and must, be taught.
Respect is documented and compensated by God, but so is disrespect. Children must be required to respect their parents. God knew that Abraham would command his children and household after him to keep the way of the Lord (see Gen. 18:19). Parents cannot force their children to love God, but they must demand respect within the home. We are training our children, one way or the other! Children who do not pay attention when their parents are speaking have been allowed to disrespect their parents. Parents who put up with this type of behavior lack love for their offspring. Yes, this sort of foolishness is resident in a child’s heart, but the rod of correction will drive it out of him (see Prov. 22:15).
Parents must establish their authority in the home. This needs to take place when the children are young. Compliance must be demanded. When dishonor is condoned, it always leads to disaster. If a killer whale can be trained to jump out of a pool and take a fish out of a trainer’s mouth without taking the trainer’s head with it, we can train our children! If dogs can be trained to fetch the mail, we can train our children! Effort, consistency, and a united front are absolutely mandatory to establishing authority and order in our homes.
Murmuring, complaining, and talking back by children are evidences that the children are in charge instead of the parents. The consequences for misbehavior should be severe enough so as to discourage a repeat of such behavior. Someone is going to win the battle for control in your home. Dad and Mom, it had better be you, and it had better be when your children are young!
- How does a climate of disrespect create a toxic environment?
- Discuss the following statement with your spouse: Direction in a home is not determined by what you teach but by what you tolerate.
- What steps do you need to take to establish respect for you and your spouse as parents in your home?
Written by Evangelist Harold Vaughan
This chapter is taken from Home Improvement – Keys to Building a Happy Home