Are We Teaching Our Children to Dishonor Their Fathers?

by Sally Matheny

Are we teaching our children to dishonor their fathers?

One, simple word, yet highly esteemed.

Most Christians know the fifth commandment given by God.

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”  Exodus 20:12

Perhaps we’ve heard it so often we have become complacent about it.

I wonder. Are we teaching our children to dishonor their father?

Let me say, I understand not all fathers exhibit behaviors that are excellent and praiseworthy. Dads make mistakes. Some make more than others do.

However, God did not say honor your parents if they are kind, popular, or (fill-in-the-blank). God said to honor them.

I specifically want to address moms today.

As Christians, we long for our children to grow closer in their relationship with God. We know this is the key for them to thrive on this earth with hope and joy.

We pray that they will long for, learn from, and lean on Jesus Christ. One way to teach our children how to revere the Creator of the universe is to teach them how to how to honor their earthly father.

The best way to educate is to live by example. There are three ways to model honor—with attitude, words, and deeds.

Honor Begins With Attitude

I could say honor begins in the heart but if love or respect is lacking in the relationship, then that may not be the case.

So, let’s say it begins in the mind. It is an attitude we choose because God calls us to do it. If children have a loving father, this may not be near as difficult as it will be for those who do not.

Still, even if blessed with a godly father, we are naturally bent towards disobedience and selfish ambition. We need help in shaping a mindset pleasing to God.

It’s important to consider if Dad's commands go against God's Holy Word.

We need help shaping a mindset pleasing to God.
That doesn’t mean we can say we’re not obeying Dad because we don’t think God wants us to. Such as, “I’m not going to clean the garage like Dad asked because I think God wants me to read my Bible.”

This is probably not what our kids are going to say, but I chose an example as “holy” sounding as this to make a point. Some are prone to twist scripture to fit their own desires.

But obey a sinful father? That doesn’t sound good, does it? Remember, we are all sinners. No one is perfect all the time. No one.

Can we justify disobedience?

If Dad demands something that clearly contradicts scripture then we must choose to obey God and suffer the consequences of disobeying Dad.

Acquiring a viewpoint of honor and obedience takes practice. Prayers and guidance from strong Christians help.

But how can a mom, who is dealing with a stressed marriage or a divorce, teach her child to honor his father?

Honor by Words

What if Mom’s feelings for Dad, are far from honor and respect? The circumstances may be ugly and out of her control. So, how does she encourage her children to honor a dishonorable dad?

God’s grace is sufficient. He will guide and empower us through any emotional and physical pain. The first line of defense is always prayer.

Pray with your children for their dad. This may feel awkward at first but God will use it to bring healing.

Thank God for His provision and His love. Ask God to intervene in your lives as well as in the dad’s life. Ask for God’s forgiveness for any bitterness or hard-heartedness. Request wisdom, healing, and peace for your family. Thank God for the small joys, the blessings, He sends as you wait for His answers.

In prayer, and out of prayer, use positive words about your husband. Degrading him scrapes wounded hearts and offers no peace.

Draw kids’ attention to the good things about their dad. Does he go to work every day to provide food for the family? Does he sing the best rendition of “A Whole New World”? What does he do to make the kids smile?

Whether you’re in a good marriage or not, when speaking to, or in front of your children, follow Thumper’s rule from the Disney film, Bambi.

        If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.

I know this is much easier for Thumper to say than it is for us to do, especially when we are frustrated, angry, or hurt. But, this bit of wisdom didn’t originate with Thumper.

Isn’t it what we want for our children and ourselves? The ability to keep a check on our heart and control our tongues.

“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.”  Matthew 15:18

It’s tempting to break the golden rule of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” especially when the other person isn’t living by the same rule.
Ganging up with the kids and forming a resistance
will not promote the honor God commands.

Another way to model honor is not to undercut the authority of a child’s father. Parents need to make joint decisions whenever possible. 

However, if a father says no to a child’s request whether it’s for a Happy Meal, a cell phone, or a gerbil, then model honor. Even if you disagree with the decision, if it’s not going against God’s Word, then show the kids how to respect their dad.

Ganging up with the kids and forming a resistance, using demeaning speech, or taking a stance using body language will not promote the honor God commands.

Try not to argue with the children’s father in front of them. Set an example of how to discuss things in a calm manner, how to disagree and compromise respectfully, and how to submit to authority, in a Christ-honoring manner, when no agreement can be found.

Whew! Needless to say, we’re going to need the power of God to help us do this.

We can teach children, regardless of emotions or circumstances, that unless it defiles God’s Holy Word, they are to honor their father with their words.

What speaks louder than words? Actions.

Honor by Actions

Nothing shouts louder than words than actions.

Wives are to honor their husbands. Showing honor within the marriage is a topic for another blog post.

Regardless of the health of a marriage, moms can still sculpt out patterns of honor for the kids to follow.

Lead children to do kind things for their father. Brainstorm together for ways to serve him, encourage him, and bless him.

And what if Dad happens to be a scoundrel? Let these verses encourage you.
Proverbs 25:21-22(ESV):

“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”

1 Peter 3:9 (NIV):

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

Sadly, many women will ignore God's Word and opt to chisel away with a desire to discredit.

What are we teaching our children when we go against their father’s wishes and grant them whatever it is he has denied them?

Is it beneficial to tell them they do not have to do something their father has told them to do?

Think about that. While we may think we are strengthening a relationship with our children, we are not. We are fracturing the foundation they stand on by sending a message of rebellion and disobedience.

How will this affect our children when God denies them something they have asked for? Something they think is good at the time, but He knows it is not what is best.

How will our kids respond when God calls them to do something that is difficult, something they do not want to do?

Every day, children have opportunities to
honor or dishonor their fathers.
Do you see how this one command God gave to all children affects the rest of their lives?

Every day, children are given opportunities to honor or dishonor their fathers.

As they grow older, the spiritual battles increase. Our children will have no choice but to submit to one power or another.

The power of Satan leads to death and destruction. 

Someone may say he will bow to no one, but only serve himself. Ultimately, that standpoint falls under Satan’s jurisdiction as well.

Christian moms love Jesus. 

We certainly love our children. 

How will we point them to the everlasting love and authority of their heavenly Father?

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