Problems with Our Parents

Proverbs 17:6 NRSV
Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their parents.

My grandmother became a Christian in her 60’s. I still have the Bible my mom gave her, her cramped notes in the margins. I can remember her telling my mom her regret for waiting so long before she surrendered to the Lord.

It’s never too late.

It seems that the number of people my age (and younger) who have “problems” with their parents has risen dramatically. Even before my grandmother was saved, my parents (both of them) had a wonderful relationship with her and a decent relationship with my grandfather (who probably was never saved). It wasn’t an easy relationship, but both sides worked at it and made it work. Sometimes I think, particularly those of us who are believers, that we demand too much and forgive too little. And we are the losers because we need our families!

There is, within this proverb, a statement about the interdependence of extended families. Of course, most of us realize that having grandkids is just, simply put, wonderful (and fun)! But we often want to forget or ignore that more difficult relationship, that of adult child and adult parent. What’s interesting is that the Hebrew word translated here “glory” also means “beauty:” “The word represents ‘beauty,’ in the sense of the characteristic enhancing one’s appearance.” In other words, once we are grown, it beautifies us to continue to have a relationship with our parents.

It’s interesting to me to see how we often mangle scripture in order to defend our own views or our own choices. Twice in the New Testament it tells children to obey their parents: Col. 3:20 and Ephesians 6:1. It never qualifies the age of these “children,” though you will hear most pastors saying that it means minor children. But I have to ask myself, how much that my parents asked of me, as an adult, would it have truly hurt me to do? Most parents of adult children realize that their children now will make their own decisions. Few adults want to continue to “manage” their children’s day-to-day lives. Ephesians 5:21 (NRSV) tells us to “be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” So, even if we believe that the other verses are about minor children, we are still told to live in submission to each other. In other words, unless our parents demand something of us that is a sin, what is the harm in trying to please them? In submitting to them? Are we pick and choose to whom we submit? (Of course, if someone demands that we sin, then we do resist. Submission is never an excuse to sin.)

I think that our rebellion against our parents costs us dearly, that we lose a great deal when we refuse to nurture family relationships. Is cultivating family relationships difficult? Absolutely! Sometimes older parents are irascible, sometimes demanding. The vast differences in culture alone can make being with our parents for extended periods of time hard. But I truly believe that in all but the smallest minority of cases in the long run it is well worth it. The Bible can’t be wrong! We are beautified as believers when we are in relationship with our parents. And who knows? Perhaps that parent who never knew the Lord will come to know Him because of your submission (and your prayers).

Image courtesy of Photostock /