How do you make a decision your parents don't agree with while honoring your mother and father? - Anonymous

Here’s Father John on that:

That depends on what is at stake in the decision and how dependent you still are on your parents. When we are still dependent on our parents, honoring our father and mother still means obeying them, even if we may disagree with them (unless they are commanding us to commit some kind of sin; if that were the case, they would be demanding too much). Once we are independent of them (living on our own, supporting ourselves, maybe raising our own family…), then honoring them no longer means obeying them in everything, and they should not expect that.

The difficulty can come as we are transitioning out of the dependence and into the independence stage. During those years of transition (high school and especially college), honoring our parents still means obeying them, but not as completely as when we were younger. Parents should tell five-year-olds when to brush their teeth, and five-year-olds should obey without talking back. But a fifteen-year-old should have already developed enough responsibility to brush their teeth regularly. So, when there is a clash about something during the transition years, the best policy is to sit down and talk it out. Parents and children should both express their desires and the reasons behind their desires. If this happens calmly and patiently (not always easy!), usually a satisfactory agreement can be found. In fact, these kinds of conversations usually yield better solutions than either the parents or the children would have thought up on their own — creative solutions, actually.

The key is to remember that parents only demand things because they love their children and want what’s best for them. This is why God asks us to honor them, and this is also why the best solution usually comes from talking things through, so that everyone understands as fully as possible the whole side of each. But children should keep obeying their parents even if the final agreement is not satisfactory to them. Hey — I am not making this up; it’s God’s idea: “Keep your father’s principle, my son, do not spurn your mother’s teaching. Bind them every to your heart, tie them round your neck. When you walk, these will guide you, when you lie down, watch over you, when you wake, talk with you.” (Proverbs 6:20-22)

God bless you!

- Father Shane


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