10 Ways to Honor Your Parents

by Crystal McDowell · Print Print · Email Email

Parents often get a bad rap. Blogs, memoirs, and made-for-TV movies reveal the ugly truths of family drama behind closed doors. As believers, we are the light of the world even in our own dysfunctional families. Our light brightly shines when we resist living in the negative past and pressing forward in our relationship with our parents. This isn’t living in denial of past wrongs or hurts, but rather walking in freedom.

How can we show honor to our parents in the grace and peace of Jesus Christ?

#1) Respectfully Disagree

“Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father…older women as mothers” (1 Timothy 5:1-2).

There are times you may not agree wholeheartedly with your parents. They could be absolutely wrong with their opinions and/or lifestyle. You show honor by resisting the urge to be disrespectful in your words, actions, thoughts, or manners.

#2) Patiently Listen

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).

Our parents need us to slow down and listen to their words of advice. There’s so much we can learn from the past generations to avoid the pitfalls and mistakes they’ve made. However, we can repeat the failures of the past if we don’t reflect on the insights of our elders.

#3) Freely Forgive

“I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12).

God in His grace and mercy grants each of us forgiveness even though we deserve punishment. How much more should we extend that same grace and mercy to our parents? There’s no pain that escapes the healing touch of Jesus when we extend the same forgiveness that is freely given to us.

#4) Regularly Contact

“See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!” (Galatians 6:11).

We are disciples of Christ when we honor our parents with letters, cards, or phone calls on a consistent basis. A minor inconvenience for us may mean a great deal to our parents or grandparents. Demonstrate the grace of God to maintain regular contact.

#5) Faithfully Visit

“I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete” (2 John 12).

Your physical presence or touch ignites the bond between parent and child.

Your physical presence or touch ignites the bond between parent and child.

A warm smile, a hearty handshake, or a tight hug in the name of Christ speaks volumes of love and fellowship to your parents. Your Father in heaven receives glory when you take time out of your busy schedule to reaffirm your love and respect.

#6) Generously Assist

“If a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God” (1 Timothy 5:4).

Your faith in the living God is revealed in how your care for your parents or grandparents. God is pleased when you help them take care of their home, provide financial assistance, health care, or look after their daily affairs. The Lord remembers your acts of kindness even if mom and dad forget in their old age.

#7) Consistently Love

“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other” (1 Thessalonians 3:12).

Sometimes our parents will have to lean on us more than they ever planned to do. This can lead to them feeling like they are a burden. Your unconditional love demonstrated by words and actions overcomes the temptation for them to despair. Your love should only increase as you get older and appreciate the sacrifices made on your behalf.

 #8) Gently Correct

“A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word” (Proverbs 15:23).

There may be times when you may have to correct your parents especially if they choose to continue in sin. Your correction must overflow with love, kindness, respect, and patience. They reserve the choice to heed your input or to disregard it.

#9) Fondly Reminisce

“You always have pleasant memories of us” (1 Thessalonians 3:6).

It doesn’t take a lot of energy to come up with everything your parents did wrong. They weren’t perfect, only Jesus is perfect. It’s more edifying and encouraging to share fond memories. Seek the Lord’s insight into what your parents did that resulted in your health, strength, knowledge, and the grace for you to come to know Christ.

#10) Steadfastly Testify

“This is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12).

As a believer, you have the responsibility to share the gospel especially with your family members. Your parents may be antagonistic towards the Gospel, yet through prayerful intercession the Holy Spirit can wear down their resistance. By staying firm in the truth of God’s word and living righteously, God can change the hardest of hearts.

Honor Demonstrated in all its Beauty

Every parent deserves honor not because of what they did or didn’t do, but rather as homage to your Heavenly Father. As you show respect and honor, you reveal the glory of God for every circumstance of life. The Lord remembers when you do what is right in spite of your parents and He will reward you graciously.

Need some help knowing how to share the gospel with your family? Take a look at this article:

How to Share the Gospel with Family

Resource – New International Version Bible, The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblca, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Ezekiel Johnbosco June 24, 2013 at 8:53 am

This is good.
I really enjoyed it…


Crystal McDowell June 24, 2013 at 3:46 pm

God bless you Ezekiel!


Judy June 25, 2013 at 4:31 pm

You always hit it out of the park Crystal. Thanks for sharing your wisdom


Crystal McDowell June 26, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Thanks Judy!


Matthew October 24, 2015 at 9:21 am

Crystal can i use your articles


Miguel Monsivais November 11, 2016 at 4:28 am

Hello, I feel that sometimes things are a bit more complicated and it takes more time to look into them than to simply read from articles, although they are helpful.

I am 32 years old and I tend to have a father that for the lack of a better term can be overbearing. I love him to death, but sometimes I do feel he oversteps certain situations that test my patience.

I have 4 siblings who are all married and with children and they have all said the same things about him. There are moments where we try to tell him our position on certain things and he gets very upset, and verbally aggressive when our position is not aligned with his.

It has come to a point where I have walked out on him before when tempers reach their limits. I have tried many ways expressing my feelings to him and it always ends the same if I speak my thoughts. He feels challenged and believes that I am taking a defiant stance against him, even when it comes to the most trivial thing.

Take for example, the most recent case. I recently got my parents a puppy. My dad wanted a puppy so I bought it for them but little did my dad know that he had to train him.

I mean, the puppy was 8 weeks when we got him and we only had him for 2 months and he was already losing patience with him. He would get very agressive and with a booming voice would force the puppy to lay in his little bed.

Everytime my dad would refer to the dog he would yell at it and the poor puppy was terrified of him. And when he would not listen he would put him on a leash and tie it to the table and force him to stay there for hours.

He would get mad when the puppy would cry and he would get mad when the puppy would bite things… even when he would bite his own toy. (like how?! Why?!) When the puppy was running around doing puppy things, I mean, my dad would freak out out of nowhere and tie him up again. He would also call him a f*g a lot.

I finally told him once, “dad, it’s just a puppy.” And that was enough to get him soooooo upset.

Then it happened. It came to the point where he had the puppy tied up and the puppy was crying because he wanted to go potty. He got so annoyed with the puppy for crying that he grabs him by the leash and pulls him closer to him. I said to him, “dad he needs to go potty.”

“NO, NO. He is not a puppy and he needs to understand that he is not a human. He isn’t going to control this house.”

I got up from the couch and said, “no, all he needs to do is go potty.”
It was right then and there that I did yell.


And right then and there he gets upset. I take the dog out and sure enough he does his business. My dad follows after and confronts me about raising my voice at him.

I tried reasoning with him and he says to me, “no, don’t play that game with me. You have always tried to play mind games and I am not going to take that from you. Remember that I am your father and you are before God.”

It was then I simply walked away from him and left the house with the puppy and gave him away to my neice instead.

I have come to the point that I will not take that behavior from him and I tried to visit him earlier this week but he did not say a single word to me.

I posted about the Trump/Hillary election to express some of my dislike over certain Christians attitudes and my dad posts a response, “REPENT! You need to get right with God, brother! Do not play with the things of God and shut your mouth, please.”

I did not respond. I actually deleted his comment and blocked my post from showing up in his newsfeed.

I take look back at all of those things and I wonder where did I do wrong? Is it because I have simply questioned certain things that I have dishonoured him? Am I dishonoring him right now? Because you better believe it that if my dad saw this post he would take it as an act of defiance rather than trying to understand the situation.

I have had all these thoughts running in my head for the last few days. It struck me when he said , “don’t forget that I am your father and you are before God.” Honor thy father and mother came to mind, so I google searched what it means to honor your parents. I found the one that made the most sense to me and here is where I am.

My father has always been this way… but he is a much better person than that. I swear if people knew him, he is a very good preacher and is honestly one of the best preachers i have ever seen in my life. He has a lot of passion but sometimes it is hard to say whether his actions are out of passion or anger and frustration.

I know for myself and I have taken that position that I will never tell him how to behave but if it ever comes to him imposing his will on me… i wonder am i wrong if i tell him no?


Jack Wellman November 11, 2016 at 11:35 am

Hello Miguel. Thank you for your open and honest comment about your father. Pastors have incredible pressure on them, so I can understand that a man of God would still lose his temper. I see you are still honoring him though and I respect that of you sir. If you are an adult, of course he can’t tell you what to do, but perhaps out of love, he is doing this. Also, maybe his parents were even harsher than he is. My late mother was very hard on us all…but later apologized and trusted in Christ, but I found out that her mother, my grandmother, was VERY cruel to her…she was mean and beat her, so we are a product of our environment, and only the Spirit of God can change us from within.


Mary Shepard January 19, 2017 at 10:09 pm

I am a mom of an adult daughter. I met a Young women who was pregnant when I had to live in a shelter a few years ago. She and her daughter live with me and so does my daughter. My daughter’s half brother and then a week later his girlfriend who got pregnant moved in before the woman I spoke of earlier. Jamaica got into it with brother’s girlfriend for disrespecting me and my daughter, so I asked brother ( who my daughter is just getting to know) to leave. They now have had the baby and now my daughter is constantly agitated over everything Jamaica and her daughter, who is now my granddaughter do it don’t do. The thing is we are in a bad spot because none of us could make it on our own without the other one, but my daughter has given an ultimatum to leave if things don’t go get way over trivial, petty stuff , in 2 months. She expects things and herself to be respected but doesn’t seem to want to it know she needs to give it back. She has anxiety meds she’s on and so did Jamaica. I keep praying we can all get along and respect each other but nothing is getting through. I have tried to talk to my daughter but then I am choosing sides with Jamaica if I point out anything that she should consider might be wrong on her side if they get into it. How can I get through to just get along to help each other and respect each other.


Jack Wellman January 20, 2017 at 9:37 am

I am so sorry Mrs. Shepard. I would speak with your pastor about other things you might be able to do. Just pour out your love on her. If God’s Spirit is in her, she will come to herself and realize what she is doing, but if she is not saved, she is going to act like the world acts. Let us pray together for her and trust God with the results. I don’t know what else you can do.


Eunice February 24, 2017 at 5:08 pm

Hi Miguel, your case is quite complex, however what’s ever to hard or complex for the Lord? A few things I believe you can do: 1. Pray, pray, pray! I.e. Praying for your dad. Prayer is the key that works. God knows your dad better than your dad knows himself, so committing him to the Lord is a start.
2. Ask God for wisdom. Wisdom on how to respond and act toward a situation, instead of just reacting. James tells us, whoever needs/desires wisdom, should ask God, and He will give it (see James 1:5). Operating in wisdom is a jewel, and by it, you can win your dad over – godly wisdom, that is. So ask the Lord for it!
3. Be tuned in to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and do whatever He says. As crazy as it sounds, the Lord always allows us to go the ends of crazy and impossible so we can go to Him to rescue us in whatever situation. So ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you per time, be in tune so you can sense, know and hear whatever He’s saying, and also do what He instructs, cos that’s where the power lies (see John 2:5, Psalm 32:8). The key is in obeying the Lord and what He says, and not trying to do it in your own strength – of which will end up in failure and frustration (see Psalm 127:1).
And lastly, 4. trust Him (God) . Trust that all He does and instructs is going to work out for you in your favour (Romans 8:28). He will never put us to shame, especially when we follow His leading. And watch how your dad will become “putty in your hands”, and better still, a changed man (see Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26). God bless! 🙂


Jack Wellman February 24, 2017 at 5:19 pm

Great words of encouragement for Miguel. Thank you Eunice.


JC February 9, 2019 at 11:39 pm

My parents abused me throughout my entire childhood.

My father beat me on a regular basis. He allowed my stepmother to do the same. I was told I should have been shot when I was born. Along with my “whore mother”. I was beaten and verbally abused almost daily.

My mother, on the other hand, left me in dangerous situations often when I lived with her. Hoping I would die so she wouldn’t have to be a 20 year old mother anymore.

Your list doesn’t appear to take situations like this into consideration. Life-long emotional scars, difficulty with interpersonal relationships, feeling isolated, inability to trust, rage that lasts for years.

How, exactly, do you “honor” people like this? Not everyone’s father offers sage advise while smoking a pipe. Not every mother bakes cookies and waits on your phone calls with baited breath.

My mother and father were insane, abusive savages. There was no love in my home. What do you suggest I do with that?


Jack Wellman February 10, 2019 at 8:06 am

I don’t think anything I could say would take the anger and hostility away from your parents. I never had a father and my mother abandoned me, but I still honor them, even after their death by asking God to bless them. That’s what Jesus wants us to do with our enemies, so how much more so with our parents, and the commandment to honor your parents has not exception clause like, “if they were only good parents.” I suggest you speak with your pastor. Your anger and showing in you comments. I will pray for you.


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