“I know what you need! A sticker chart,” I exclaimed!
My mum had just come home from her first knee surgery and was struggling with her physical therapy exercises. I hadn’t homeschooled for 14 years for nothing. I printed up a little chart, dug up some stickers, and she was as motivated as a toddler using the potty for M&M’s!
Part of the circle of life is that as we reach middle age, our parents reach the age when they need us to care for them. That can be both a privilege and a burden, but I think the right mindset can make all the difference.
Even if we are not in a position to physically care for our parents or grandparents, we are still called to show our elders honor and respect. Yes, even if our parents don’t respect or honor us. But that’s a different article.
Honor your father and mother.Ephesians 6:2
We are commanded in both the Old and New Testaments to honor our parents (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1-2). Young children living under the care and protection of their parents are definitely supposed to obey their parents, but what about children in their 20s or even 50s?
Adult children do not owe parents obedience, but they do owe them honor and respect (and regular phone calls). The Old Testament Law as summarized by Jesus in Matthew 22:35-40 is to love God and love people; therefore, my honoring my parents is inspired by love, not bound by legalism or fear. As an adult child, my job is to hold in high regard my parents’ wishes and feelings.
So, what does that mean exactly? Respect means to give high or special regard to someone, esteem, or consideration. Honor is a similar concept but also encapsulates the idea of one whose worth brings respect or special recognition. I submit that our parents, by virtue of that office alone, are worthy of our respect and honor and reverence.
Families are the building blocks of the stability of society. Disregard for the feelings and values of our elders is the first step on the slippery slope of disregard for the value of the lives of the elderly and other vulnerable populations in general, as discussed in this recent article in The Atlantic older people and COVID.
We must value people purely on the basis of their humanity—not their contributions to society—or we lose our own humanity.
We all go through seasons of life—first we’re helpless babes, being cared for by our parents. Then we’re fairly independent, but if you’re anything like me, we still rely on our parents for advice and to bail us out now and again. Then we become parents and caretakers ourselves. Eventually, we find ourselves sandwiched in between texting our kids NOT to microwave the whole turkey and at the same time sitting in the waiting room while our parents are receiving needed health care. But what never changes is our responsibility to love and honor those God has placed in our lives (by birth or by choice).
Our job as women of faith living life in the middle is to be a voice for the voiceless—old or young—and an advocate for the helpless.
How are you honoring the elders God has placed in your life? Please share, so we can gain inspiration from each other! I’ll just be over here putting stickers on a chart every time my mother completes a set of knee exercises.