Honoring Our Parents
Cases of Unfilial Children
Are you surprised to watch news about unfilial children? A few years ago, an old woman who could not speak English was abandoned by her adult daughter at the airport in the United States. After investigation, it was found that the old woman had emptied her retirement savings in order to come to the United States to take care of her grandchildren for her daughter. When her grandchildren grew up, the old woman became useless and had no money left. Her daughter then sent her old mother back to China where she no longer had any relatives. In addition, the old woman’s daughter brought her to the airport a few days ahead of the scheduled flight and left her there alone, just for the sake of convenience. The old woman neither ate nor slept at the airport for days. Some kind by-passers saw the woman at the airport alone and helpless. So they called the police for help. The police advertised to help find the elderly’s relatives. Her daughter did not come forward. The old woman then decided to go back to her motherland. Even at this point, the elderly mother still begged the news reporters not to disclose her story in order to protect her daughter’s reputation.
In 2011, an international student surnamed Wang returned to China. When he arrived at the Shanghai airport, he stabbed his mother nine times with his knife because his mother did not send enough money for him to splurge.
In 2015, there was a shocking incident that happened to an 85-year-old woman named Mrs. Jie at the Wanzhou district of Chongqing City in China. Her four adult sons refused to take care of her and left her outdoors frozen to death. (Note 1)
These are just a few examples out of many tragedies. There are a lot of disrespectful and unfilial children. While some grown children may not endanger the lives of their elderly parents, they leave their old parents unattended without proper caring. Therefore, some elderlies are left to face their difficulties alone. In some cases, they are being mistreated with abusive language. Some other adult children are like blood-sucking bugs, squeezing their old parents’ meager pension for their own pleasure. Some may take care of their own parents but when it comes to their spouse’s parents, they treat their parents-in-law as enemies or they are just not willing to pay any respect.
Isn’t it sad that tragedies like these happen in our society?
In recent years, there are some new legislations to protect the elderly. For example, there is the “Elderly Rights Protection Law” in China and there is the “Supporting Parents Law” in Taiwan. In South Korea, the laws even allow the elderly parents to recover the loaned money and real estate originally given to their children (Note 2). However, how many parents who have devoted their whole lives for their children would pursue lawsuits against their children for fines or imprisonments?
God Is Delighted When We Honor Our Parents
Many Chinese people think that Christians don’t pay attention to filial piety because they don’t see Christians bowing to the dead or burning incense for their ancestors. That’s not the case. The first 4 commandments of the Ten Commandments address our relationship with God while the 5th commandment is about human relationships. God declared that “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12). In addition, honoring our parents is often mentioned in the Bible. The New Testament says: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother—which is the first commandment with a promise— so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3).
Also, Jesus has demonstrated the best example of filiality. Even when Jesus was crucified on the cross in great pain, He still cared for his mother Mary. The Lord had spoken seven sentences on the cross. Two of the sentences were about his mother Mary. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman (or highly respected), here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26-27). Christianity is about respecting God, honoring our parents, and loving one another.
We should even honor and obey our parents on earth. Shouldn’t we obey and fear our Almighty God who is loving, know-all, and eternal? He’s the One who created the universe and mankind, providing us with air, water, sunshine, food… and even saves us from our sin and gives us eternal life by letting his only son Jesus Christ died for us.
How to Honor Our Parents
1． Truly love our parents
The famous ancient scholar, Confucius, once was questioned by his students about the greatest challenge of honoring parents. Confucius said that “being able to truly love your parents” is the most challenging. It is easy to please your parents occasionally but it is difficult to be truly delightful from the bottom of your heart, especially when your parents are old and ill and even disabled. Here’s an ancient Chinese saying: “Hardly can one persist filial care of his long-ill parents”. We need to look up to God’s grace due to our lack of patience so that we may delight in taking care of them. It could be difficult for us to forgive and forget if our parents have hurt us in the past. Since God has forgiven our sins, we can learn to forgive our parents likewise.
2． Support our parents
Zeng Zi, another ancient Chinese scholar said: “There are three types of filiality. The greatest of all is being respectful. The second is do no shame. The third is: be supportive.” First of all, at least, grown children should support their aged parents with food and shelter. Secondly, children should obey the law so their parents won’t be ashamed. In addition to supporting them with food and shelter as we provide food and shelter to our pets too, we must respect our parents.
Christianity goes further than Zeng Zi as the Bible says “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”(Ephesians 6:1) This means that we don’t blindly obey our parents but act in accordance with the Bible. God even promises to bless us with longevity.
3． Be considerate when we talk to our parents
Let our parents know that we love them and understand how they feel, even when we don’t agree with them.
When we speak to our parents, our attitude should be respectful and kind. We need to bear in mind that our aged parents might have impairment with their hearing, vision, or cognitive processing. So we need to be patient even though they might be nagging, stubborn or making mistakes.
In addition, avoid speaking with disrespectful and threatening language to our parents or making fun of them. We should not criticize our parents in front of others, including your spouse and children. If we speak gratefully with kind words to our parents, they would be pleased and our spouses and children would also honor them from our examples.
4． Take care of our parents’ housing
Supporting our parents includes solving their housing problem, especially when our widow or widower parents have declining health. Important issues could be: Where should the old parents live? Who can live with them? Who can take care of them?
It’s a blessing to our elderly parents if our spouses agree to live with them. Otherwise, we should visit them often and be caring.
If nursing home is the only option, we need to discuss with our aged parents and find a reputable nursing home nearby so that we can visit them often, take them out for dinner or bring them home on weekends so that they don’t feel abandoned as they are aging.
5． Bringing our parents to Christ is the TOP PRIORITY
There is nothing more important than accepting Jesus Christ as the Savior in one’s life. So, first of all, let’s accept salvation ourselves. As believers, we must bring our parents to Christ. The Bible says that “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:12).
Christians not only have the assurance of eternal life, but also the dwelling of the Holy Spirit who is prompt to help them. Therefore, Christians can face tomorrow without fear of suffering, illness, and even death. Our parents would less likely be depressed since they enjoy the caring from others in the church.
Let us honor our parents so that we won’t regret thinking about this old Chinese saying: “The tree wishes to be still yet the wind continues to blow. The son wants to fulfill his duty but there are no elders around.”
(Notes 1 and 2: Web Searches)