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Frequently Asked Questions about Honor Father and Mother

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Question: "With regard to the 10 Commandments are we expected to honor our parents when they abuse us?

I am a 39 year old professional who is in a serious relationship with an man who is Roman Catholic. We have dated for nearly two years and I believe he is getting ready to ask me to marry him. The problem is that my mother is dead set against it because she was in an inter-Christian marriage that failed. She threatens to cut-off from me if I marry my boyfriend. She is unwilling to talk to me. She ignores me at family functions, talks behind my back and has remained intractable regarding this issue. To manipulate and confuse me further, she has begun reminding me that God expects us to honor our mother and father.

Is there a point where I should expect her to treat me respectfully?

How can I begin to establish some healthy boundaries with her?"

Answer: With regard to the commandment that asks us to honor our parents (Exodus 20:12), your descriptions and observations suggest to me that you have more than fulfilled this commandment. I should also add that the flip side of this commandment is that parents are called to try to imitate our heavenly Father who treats His children with unconditional love, mercy, forgiveness, kindness, goodness and respect. The Parable of the Prodigal Son reminds us of a parents unconditional love for his sons (LK 15:11-32). Additionally, meditate upon the parenting style which the Virgin Mary adopted to care for Jesus – often willing to sacrifice herself for his well being.

But alas, sometimes parents are limited/damaged by their lived experiences and, they are unable to imitate their heavenly Father. In these cases, their adult children must pray for them, while also asking God for guidance so that they do not inadvertently become victims of their parent's sins and shortcomings.

These thoughts should begin to help you develop some healthy, holy boundaries with your Mom who appears to be struggling with some personal issues that have little or nothing to do with you.

Write me back if you have any follow-up questions. 

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