God put in place from the beginning the importance of honoring our mother and father. The fifth commandment is the only commandment that ends with a promise ... a long life in the land God gives them. As Christ followers, who are raising our children to follow God and His Word, it is important to lead our children in this very important commandment ... so their life will be blessed and long on this earth!
So what does honor look like? Is it just our children doing what they are told? Is it a silent child, who never questions us?
I think honor is an attitude of the heart. When our children honor us, they don't necessarily agree, or like what we are saying or asking of them, but they respond to us out of a heart of respect for our authority. This is honoring us. They obey with a heart of submission and surrender. They have a voice in the home, but they have the understanding that their voice needs to stay under the umbrella of honor.
Here are a few things we can do as parents to encourage and nurture a heart of honor in our children:
- Put in place clear boundaries, very early on, regarding the tone in which they can speak to you. Require the tone of voice to be one of respect and kindness. They should know exactly what this sounds like by listening to you as you speak to them! If they refuse to use a tone of honor, refuse to listen to their voice. Let them know as soon as they can speak with honor to you, you will be glad to listen.
- Never allow your child to hit you or be physical with you in any way when they are upset. Again ... this begins very early on in the training. If they are already in the habit of hitting at you when they are unhappy, you can retrain them. Begin by catching them before they hit and saying firmly..."no, you do not hit me." If needed, place them in a safe place to settle down.
- Talk about honor and what God's heart is on the subject. Show them in the Word (Exodus 20:12) where God instructs them to honor you as their mother or father. Help them to understand what it means to honor you as their parent. We talked about honor a lot in our home. It helped Taylor and Elin have an understanding of what how we expected them to treat us and more importantly, how God expected them to.
- Let your children witness you treating your parents with honor. That may be easier said than done, depending on your relationship with your parents. But even if the relationship is a challenging one, you can still be an example of how to love and respect your mother and father. It will make a serious impact on your own children.
A child who knows how to honor his or her mother and father, is a much happier human being. Their life is blessed. Their relationship with their parents is healthy and functional.
This is why God gave this commandment. He knew how wonderful the benefits would be for those who obeyed it!