Updated: Jun 10, 2020
Honour your father and your mother! I like the Yoruba translation of this scripture (Exodus 20:12). The older generation drummed this into me on several occasions as a kid. Especially those teenage years.
When your voice breaks, you think, now I'm a man. It's time to push the envelope. I'm going to look at my mum sideways whenever she challenges my childish behaviour.
Nigeria is one place you don't want to step out of line as a child. Well, at least when I was growing up. Most homes dealt with rebellion severely. They crushed it. Dissension wasn't permitted. For those of you who can relate to this, I am sure you have heard this one before. "When I finish with you, you'll tell your children, and your children's children." To put it plainly, you will get a beating you will never forget.
I am a firm believer in children honouring their parents. This is not just some Old Testament gig (Exodus 20:12). Paul included the same instruction in his letters to the churches in Ephesus and Colossae (Ephesians 6:1-2&Colossians 3:20).
The text wasn't meant to be used to beat children over the head. Manipulation and control was never the goal. Neither does honour your father and mother mean parents must now become petulant tyrants in the life of a child.
In Greco Roman culture, fathers wielded a lot of power. Their children were under authority, even in adulthood. Some fathers treated their children unfairly. It was state sponsored.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 (NLT)
Fathers, don't irritate your children and make them resentful, or they will become discouraged. Colossians 3:21 (CJB)
Paul admonished Fathers not to provoke their children to anger by the way they treat them. Ladies, you might say, well the text applies to men, not us. No. I won't let you off the hook. Both parents play a significant role in the development of their offspring. You are included in the mix.
In Christ, the whole family is under the Lord's authority. Yes, we must discipline and correct when appropriate, but we must never lose sight of the long-term development of our children. Don’t plant seeds that would come back to bite you in old age.
I am not advocating the blurring of boundaries between parent and child. That's another extreme. Vague boundaries make it virtually impossible for some to reign in their off spring when necessary. However, we must be mindful of how we communicate with them. Constant criticism, tantrums, threats, overcorrection, harsh treatment, smouldering and manipulative parenting will only foster resentment.
May the Lord continue to give us the grace, wisdom and strength to be the parents He wants us to be in the lives of the precious souls He has placed in our care.
Remain strong in His grace.