When your parents divorce, you entire world changes. Many times, you are find out or are given information about one parent or the other which impacts your view of them. Perhaps one of your parents made bad decisions which and betrayed the trust of your other parent causing the divorce. Sometimes, your parents’ actions will cause you pain. You may even feel like between you and your parent, you are the one acting like the adult these days. Given all of that, how can you continue to respect or honor your parents?
It is important to separate the the person from the position in your effort to respect and honor both of your parents. Despite the actions of your parents, they have been put in your life and given the position of parent. You can respect and honor that position regardless of the acts of the individuals in those positions. Put another way, even though you’re your mother’s actions have left your father depressed and despondent, you can still respect her role as mother when it comes to setting rules and boundaries.
Keep in mind that respect is a choice you make. Oftentimes in our society, you will hear that “respect is earned.” This is not true. Respect is given. Respect is a choice. It is a choice to honor and respect a person regardless of your feelings towards them. You choose to treat a person a certain way whether they deserve it or not because you know that it is the right thing to do. Respect is not, and can not, be granted on a “quid pro quo” basis. You don’t choose to respect your parents because they respect you or because they treat you the way you feel you should be treated. You respect them because YOU make the choice to do so regardless of their actions.
Keep in mind that respect does not always mean affirming the actions of, or agreeing with the stance of, your parent. If one of your parents is making destructive choices, or worse yet encouraging you to do the same, the most respectful thing you can sometimes do is turn away for a time or a season. If your father’s house is unsafe, honor and respect does not demand that you stay there. If your mother and father can not get along in the same room, honor does not dictate that you subject yourself to that drama on your graduation or wedding day.
Sometimes, respecting and honoring your parents has to start with forgiveness. Quit holding on to the bitterness that you are feeling, and choose to forgive your parent. You will not be able to honor or respect them so long as you are harboring resentment towards them. It will not be easy, but choosing to honor and respect your parents can free you up emotionally and start you down the road of healing.