The majority of the Christian world will be familiar with the fifth commandment given to Moses on the top of Mount Sinai:
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. (Exodus 20:12)
In pondering the subject of honoring our parents as prompted by its inclusion as part of the LDS Church's #LightTheWorld campaign, I had the privilege to read this talk given by Dallin H. Oaks in the April 1991 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Of this commandment, he writes:
"The commandment to honor our parents has strands that run through the entire fabric of the gospel. It is inherent in our relationship to God our Father. It embraces the divine destiny of the children of God. This commandment relates to the government of the family, which is patterned after the government of heaven.
The commandment to honor our parents echoes the sacred spirit of family relationships in which—at their best—we have sublime expressions of heavenly love and care for one another. We sense the importance of these relationships when we realize that our greatest expressions of joy or pain in mortality come from the members of our families.
Other manifestations of this commandment include the bearing and care of children, the preparation of family histories, and efforts to see that the ordinances of eternity are performed for our departed ancestors."
He then goes on to talk about some of the ways that each of us can honor our parents. Although many of these can be applied to each of us at any age some suggestions he gives for children and youth are obedience, respect, and emulation; for the middle-aged, caring for parents when required; for those whose parents have passed on family reunions, family history and honoring causes for which your parents spent their strength.
I will be eternally grateful for parents who continue to teach me good principles, mentor me, love me and whose example I wish to emulate. When I had the opportunity to become a mother myself just over a year ago, the reality of what my parents have done for me thus far was made that much more apparent to me--I was that much more grateful. I believe that this is a pattern that will continue. The more I come to know of the world and of life, the more I will appreciate my parents and seek to honor them.
- When was that last time you actually talked to your parents? Give them a call (don’t just send a text) and tell them how much you love them.
- How well do you know your family’s history? Learn about an ancestor, and share his or her story. FamilySearch can help you get started. (Visit FamilySearch.org.)
- Need some meaningful advice about something you’re dealing with? Ask your parents; you may be surprised by their wisdom.
Here are a few additional ideas to consider:
- Write your parents a thank you card or letter. Include a few specific examples of impactful memories you have of their positive influence in your life.
- Create a list of attributes you would like to have as a parent, based on your own parents or other examples of sublime parenthood you've felt in your life.
- Involve your children (if possible) in your celebration and appreciation of your parents in order to teach honoring parents by example. Encourage them to perform an act of service for a grandparent or your spouse to honor them.
Create a family tree chart that you can place somewhere you'll see if often to be reminded not only of your parents but of their parents before them and all who have come before.
How do you honor your parents? Tell us in the comments below!
Also, if you're looking for a thoughtful gift to express your appreciation and love for you parents, consider getting them a Family Tree Print--the perfect family tree gift for parents.