Honor Your Father and Mother

honor your father and mother

What does it mean to honor your father and mother? What does it look like to honor your parents? Do we ever stop honoring them? These are good questions. The Bible has even better answers!


What Does It Mean To Honor Your Father and Mother?

The Bible is clear about how we are to treat our parents. The fifth commandment says, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12). This commandment, and the blessing attached to it, are repeated throughout the old and new testaments. 

But what does it mean to “honor thy father and mother?” The Oxford English Dictionary says honor means “to regard with great respect or high esteem.” It also describes honor as “something regarded as a rare opportunity and bringing pride and pleasure; a privilege.” Both of these describe what it means to honor your parents. 

So, when honoring our parents, it’s essential that we show them respect, accept their authority, obey them, and appreciate them.

Why Is It Important to Honor Our Parents?

Jesus said: “If you want to enter life, keep the commandments… Honor your father and mother and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:17,19). He also said in Matthew 15:4, “For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles his father or mother must surely die.” 

Proverbs 30:17 says, “The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be plucked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures.” 

These are some scary consequences for not honoring your parents! But why is this such a serious issue?

Why Does God Want Us to Honor Our Parents?

First of all, God is invested in relationships. He desired a relationship with each of us. To illustrate the structure of the relationship, He created the family. The way we respect our parents says a lot about how we show respect to God. Honoring our father and our mother teaches us how to honor our Heavenly Father better.

Remember that others are observing the way you honor your parents and God. Your siblings and friends will learn from your example. And someday, when you are a parent, your children will learn how to treat you by watching how you treat their grandparents. 

Not only is respect for our parents important in showing respect to God, but it also teaches us respect for authority. Tim Keller says, “It’s respect for your parents that is the basis for every other kind of respect and every other kind of authority.” Honoring our father and mother teaches us that God has placed people in authority over us. Honoring them also teaches us how to respect that authority and be respected by those we have authority over. 

Most importantly, showing honor to our parents demonstrates the love of Christ. It creates strong bonds in our families, can heal broken relationships, and helps us grow as Christians. Honoring your father and your mother can be an incredible opportunity to share the love of God.


Do We Ever Stop Honoring Our Parents?

Your relationship with your parents will change as you get older. How is your relationship with your parents different now than when you were a child? An infant? What will your relationship be like when you become an adult? 

As both you and your parents grow older, you’ll find that you have the privilege of caring and providing for them. Paul wrote to Timothy, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). 

Even as we grow into adulthood, we never stop honoring our parents. 

“What If My Parents Don’t Deserve Honor?”

Parents are meant to love, protect, instruct, and discipline their children. Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” 

Unfortunately, the reality is that not all parents treat their children well. Sometimes a parent’s behavior can be unhealthy and harmful to their kids. The Bible instructs us to honor our parents, but it does not command us to stay in harm’s way. If you or another teen that you know is facing abusive or dangerous situations, get help right away. Call a counselor if you need help navigating the relationship with your parents. If you are in immediate physical danger, call 911. 

If your parents behave in hurtful ways, do you still have to show them honor? The Bible says yes. But how can you do that? 

First, forgive them. Jesus said forgiveness wouldn’t be easy. Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22). Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” 

Second, pray for your parents and ask the Holy Spirit to help you speak well of them. Third, demonstrate to your parents what healthy love looks like. Show them the love of Christ. And lastly, as you grow into adulthood, endeavor to be the person or parent they weren’t. Break the cycle of heartache and fill the cracks with God’s love and restoration instead. 


What Does It Look Like To Honor Your Parents?

If you are looking for some practical ways to honor your parents, here is a list of 20 ideas to get you started. What other ways can you think of to honor your parents?

20 Ways To Honor Your Parents

1. Tell Them You Love Them

A simple “I love you” can go a long way!

2. Show Appreciation

Let your parents know that you understand what they do for you and your family.

3. Do a Chore for Your Parents

If you can, choose one they dislike the most and do it without them knowing.

4. Show Love to Your Siblings

Make an effort to get to know and understand each other and get along as often as possible.

5. Plan a Family Game Night or Adventure

Your parents will appreciate your creativity and will be excited to spend time with you and the rest of your family.

6. Take an Interest in Their Hobbies

Show interest in something your parents love. Take the time to learn a new skill or do those activities with them.

7. Listen to Their Stories

Ask your parents to tell you about what life was like when they were a teenager.

8. Share Your Stories with Them

Communicate with your parents. Tell them about your day, dreams, struggles, and aspirations.

9. Ask Them for Their Opinion

Your parents have a lot of experience and wisdom to share. Asking for advice not only shows them that you value their insight but helps you grow as well.

10. Tell the Truth

Always be honest with your parents. This will build trust between you.

11. Don’t Talk Back

When you disagree with your parents or are feeling emotional, it’s easy to be disrespectful. Make a conscious effort to control your words and body language, and be respectful.

12. Speak Well of Your Parents

Whether in public or private, make sure to keep your parents in high esteem by the things you say about them.

13. Ask About Their Day

Take an interest in the events that happened to your parents that day. If there was an important event, remember to ask them about it.

14. Organize a Family Bible Study

Independently or with your siblings, organize a Bible study with your family. Make it full of worship, prayer, and reading the Word together.

15. Research Your Geneology

Investigating your family’s history with your parents can be an excellent way to learn about your relatives and unearth some incredible family stories.

16. Compliment Your Parents

Give your parents a sincere compliment, and be sure to tell them often that they are doing a good job.

17. Serve Others with Them

Serving others might include going grocery shopping, shoveling snow, doing yard work, or putting together a care package to show love to others.

18. Be Aware of Your Reactions

When you feel frustrated, angry, and emotional, it’s so easy to react strongly. Stay aware of your tone of voice, volume, and actions when you feel this way. Try to behave in calm and respectful ways when you disagree with your parents.

19. Be Teachable

Ask your parents to teach you a new skill or hobby. When they offer you advice, be intentional about learning from their stories.

20. Plan Time with Your Parents

Schedule time on the calendar to spend one-on-one with your dad or your mom. Put the phones and devices away and use that time to get to know each other, share a few laughs, and encourage each other.

Further Reading

Tell us How it Went!

The Live It Challenge team wants to know how you’ve chosen to honor your parents! What do you and your parents think about this activity? 

Send us your thoughts and you could be featured on our Facebook and Instagram pages! 

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About the Author


Bret Eckelberry

Bret Eckelberry

Yeah, these are good too…

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Copyright © 2023 Focus on the Family

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