The Mississippi Baptist Foundation  |  est. 1943  |  Psalm 24:1
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Under divine inspiration, the apostle Paul wrote: “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and your mother’ which is the first commandment with a promise, that it may go well with you and you may enjoy long life on the earth” (Eph. 6:1-3).


     In this passage, the Greek word translated “obey” points to the authority someone has over another and the subsequent submission to the superior by the subordinate. The Greek word translated “honor” points to the honest and accurate understanding that children have of parents as their elders and the resultant deference, respect, reverence, kindness, courtesy, and obedience which parents’ station in life and character demands. In addition, being “in the Lord” defines the sphere within which the positive, practical, and productive relationship between parents and children resides (K. Wuest, 136).
     Honoring one’s parents, particularly in their golden years, was the focus of my article last week. Children of aging parents were encouraged to demonstrate honor, value, and respect for their elders not only by (1) making their parents a Priority, but also by treating them with (2) Courtesy, (3) Dignity, and (4) Integrity. This week, I would like to flip the coin to the other side and offer some thoughts to aging parents who have a unique opportunity to relate in a wise and healthy manner to adult children who are striving to honor their elders while providing assistance, encouragement, and guidance that may be necessary during particular seasons of their parents’ lives.
     First, may I challenge aging parents to offer your children Affirmation. Paul wrote, “Fathers…bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). While correcting and disciplining children are expressed in this verse, the goal of nurture and encouragement seems to take center stage. Children who are “in the Lord” are seeking to minimize the challenges and possible struggles that you may be facing. Please affirm them and their efforts (even if you don’t always agree with their approach, method, timing, or perspective). Children of all ages need the kind of affirmation that only parents can provide.
     Regular and thorough Communication with your grown children will benefit both you and them. Whether you have one or multiple children, help them to understand where you are physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. In this way, your children can gain insight regarding the type and quantity of assistance that you may need. Granted, your assessment of the situation may not find complete agreement with your children, but involving them in the discussion can help reduce the potential for parent-child conflict.
     Relate to your children with a spirit of Cooperation. Certain lifestyle changes may be needed on your part as an aging parent. You may not always agree with the suggested or recommended changes. In fact, your attitude might be something like “I am the parent and I have many more years of life experience than these youngsters have.” While you have lived longer to this point than your kids, remember that you have raised smart and wise children who want to be a blessing to you even as you have been a blessing to them through the years.
     Paul also wrote,“Fathers do not exasperate your children….” (Eph. 6:4). Lack of cooperation with children can lead to exasperation. Allow your children to be a resource for you, especially if they have training and expertise in fields such as medical, financial, legal, and others beneficial to your wellbeing. Remember, your kids simply want to honor you.
     While other thoughts could be shared, I want to conclude with the challenge to aging parents to make Preparations. Prepare your Last Will and Testament or other end-of-life documents. Include both your “Kids and the Kingdom” in this legacy plan. Doing so provides a testimony to your Christian faith. Prepare other important documents such as an Advance Health Care Directive and a Durable Power of Attorney. Where appropriate, inform your children of the contents of these documents. Involve your kids in planning your home going celebration when the Lord calls you into “higher service” with Him. Making these and other preparations will be a blessing for your children and underscore your love and respect for them.
     Honor and respect in families is a two-way street. When parents regard their grown and “in the Lord” children as wise and caring adults, and who further recognize that “parents are the pride of their children” (Prov. 17:6b), the likely result is children who “rise up and call her blessed” (Prov. 31:28a).