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Thursday, July 13, 2017

7 Ways to Honor Your Parents as an Adult

Hey People!

I hope everyone is having a good week. It's kindda sorta almost the weekend! I'm so happy it's summertime. You know how much I love the heat....Now, all that's missing is beach and sand :)

Last week, my post Honor Your Parents Live Long discussed just how much God wants us to honor our parents ALL the days of our lives. Now that we know that it's a LOUD commandment with several rewards and punishments attached to it, the next step is to discuss the practical ways to show this "honor".  Although there are circumstances where honoring parents may seem almost impossible (for e.g. they are abusive, they abandoned you, they wounded you, they berate you, they don't like your spouse without good reason, etc.), we are mandated to honor them and as a commandment, we have to comply. As we discussed last week, the Scripture is very clear that the way we treat our parents has significant ramifications, both for our physical life and our spiritual life.

In March, I volunteered to help older people draft and execute their wills and estate planning documents. I met a lovely woman. Let's call her Mrs. S.  She was about 80 years old. We got to talking and she told me she had 5 children and only 3 check on her. Her very first daughter moved out at 21, is now a big company executive, lives 3 hours away and only visits once every 2 years. This daughter did not tell her when she got married and just sent her a postcard with a wedding picture. You could tell how much it hurt Mrs. S just to talk about it, because she felt she had become "below" her daughter. 

As a child of faith, your parents deserve your honor.  When you were young, you depended on your parents to be strong. Now, you're a strong, independent and successful adult, it's time to let them depend on you for strength in their old age. It's time to assure them by your words AND actions, that you will not forsake them and that it is not only your responsibility but your joy to care for them.

When was the last time you thought about the sacrifices your parents made to ensure you have a better life? Your mother may be overbearing but have you thought about how much she gave up just to ensure you had a parent easily accessible? So, how do you think she feels when you move miles away and never call or visit? Your father may appear hardened and difficult to talk to, but have you taken a moment to sit with him and get to really know him and the experiences that shaped his character? 

So, in today's crazy world with 40-hour work weeks that turn into 80 hour drags, here's how to "practically" appreciate your parents in your everyday life.

1.  Pray for them

Getting older can be emotionally- tasking. So, whenever you think about your parents, say a prayer. Ask God to give them strength, good health, longevity and most of all, because this doesn't always come easy, to give you the grace, wisdom, fortitude and provision to "honor" them.

No matter how "terrible" your parents were or are, there's nothing God can't do. No curse God can't break. No relationship God can't fix. No heart God can't change. God knows your parents better than they know themselves. Commit them to God is the first step. He will lead you to Honor.

2.  Spend time with them

Many parents speak the love language of "Quality Time". Nothing makes them happier than to be with you. It may mean taking a weekend just to sit and chat with your mother. NO matter how grown you are, your parents will always picture those times when you were so dependent on them, you couldn't go to the potty alone and while they understand you are now married with kids of your own, sometimes they just want to feel like you still value them. So, make that trip just to chat. If you're in their city for a wedding or a meeting, extend your trip for one more day just to stop by and spend the day with them.

Time with your parents is invaluable even for you because long after they are gone, it is those memories that remain with you.  No matter how much of a big shot you are now, you still have their blood in your veins- a gift from God that you must cultivate.

Oh, and most importantly, when you're with them, be on their own schedule, not yours. Oh, I can tell you endless stories about my mom. She likes to go to events and stay for hours on end. Even though she can drive, she enjoys when my siblings or I drive her to the event and just sit with her.  It makes her happy, so we take turns doing it. 

I'm sure a lot of you can relate to when your mom casually asks you to accompany her to the grocery store. She will promise you it will take five minutes to pick up chicken, but in reality, you will not only leave the store two hours later with 30 bags of groceries, she will need to stop by 3 other stores because the first one did not have the right type of "Okporoko" fish that will make all the difference in the soup she wants to cook.  Sometimes, when I go with my mom on "errands", it's an entire day's business, so I just get ready for it. At the end of the day, that "soup" is lit though :-)

When you can't travel to visit your parents, call just to say hi. If you tend to forget, set it in your weekly calendar the same you would an "important business call". Better still, make it a weekly conference call. Make it a habit, they will start to look forward to your call.  Call, ask how they are doing, how their day went and if there's anything they need. Don't forget to end your call with "I love you."  One of my friends calls his mom unfailingly every Sunday at 6 p.m.  and he says it gives him the good mojo he needs to start his new week.

3. Be generous to them

Parents for my generation are typically between 55 and 70 years old. They are aging and slowing down. Most of them are retired. Some of them are getting ill or passing on. 

So, next time you go to Louis Vuitton and buy a purse just to show off on Instagram, buy your mom one.  Like the Igbos say, "Oburo ma nwa, onye g'enye"...meaning "If not for my child, who will give me?" If they still have a mortgage or credit card debt, and you can afford it, once in a while, take a bill and pay it. 
It means more to spend money on your parents while they are alive, than on their funeral.
If you're blessed and both your parents are still living, and you can afford it, send them on a vacation together. Even if you can't afford it by yourself, if you have siblings, a little contribution from everyone can go a long way. I never had this opportunity because my dad passed when I was 14 years old. Last year, my husband and I had planned to do something similar for his parents. Unfortunately, my father-in-law died suddenly before we could set it in motion. If you can, do it today. Life is short. Enough said.

4. Listen and respect their opinions.

We know you are now alll grown, intelligent and successful. However, remember that before then you were your parents' little boy/girl. In Igboland, there is a saying that an elder can see something ahead while sitting, that YOU cannot see even if you stood on a chair or ladder. They have invaluable wisdom that may not be immediately apparent to you. There's so much to learn from our parents' actions to avoid maintaining a cycle of mistakes. When I am confused, I take it to my mom. Most times, she's faced a similar issue and knows how to best deal with it.  There is a clarity that she gives to every situation that I cannot get anywhere else.

At the same time, sometimes, parents give opinions that make you want to tear your hair out and scream "That is just sooo ridiculous!". When that happens, take a deep breath and nod. Regardless of how much you disagree with their opinions, never be disrespectful in your words, actions, thoughts, or manners towards them. The trick is to say, "Okay, I understand, I'll think about it...thank you so much".

5. Express your appreciation now.

What do you appreciate the most about your parents? When last did you express that to them? For me, I appreciate that my mom is such a strong woman. I appreciate that she showed me that it is possible to be cutthroat successful in your career and still be a loving wife/mother. Because of her, I know I do not have to choose between my career and having a family. I can actually balance my life. And whenever I get a chance, I tell her the value she has brought and continues to bring to my life. Just last week, I mailed her a handwritten letter and she said it made her day :-) 

For my dad, he was such a hardworking loving man who believed that being good to people was more important than money or flash. No matter how wealthy he was, he was never proud or arrogant. I wish I could tell him that in person today. 

We all know people who put up "Best mom in the world" Instagram posts (that their parents probably never see) but never actually call their parents or do anything else to honor them.  If your parents are still alive, take a step beyond that, call or write to say what you admire about them and how much you appreciate that you have them to call mom or dad or how much you appreciate all their hard work and love.

6. Forgive them

There is no such thing as a perfect parent. It is often joked about every African parent tells their child they graduated top of their class. The question now becomes, if everyone graduated top of their class, who came 2nd, 3rd or last in the class??? It cracks me up everytime because this is not only a joke, it is reality. Parents want to look perfect to their children and sometimes this makes them prideful to ever admit their mistakes. The reality is they are imperfect, just like us.

They may have said hurtful things, had unrealistic expectations of you, or done things that left you damaged. Regardless of what your parent's sins are....forgive. It saves you from retaining anger and bitterness in your life. While I understand this is easier said than done, I urge you at least to take the first step towards forgiveness - ask God for His help.

Forgiveness is defined by Merriam Webster as, " to give up resentment of or claim to requital or to cease to feel resentment against (an offender)"

I also have to add that if your situation is such that your parents keep on hurting you, I am not asking you to forgive and leave us vulnerable to continuous hurt. Forgive because if you're a believer, you know forgiveness only comes from God.

7. Stop complaining about them.

Lastly, stop complaining to everyone who cares to listen just how ridiculous your parents were to you or how much of your time they are taking. Sometimes, our parents due to illness or life circumstances beyond their control, will need to depend on us more than they wish to. Majority of the time, if it was up to them, they don't want to be a burden to you. Be kind. Be selfless. and do it with a smile on your face.

Ultimately, our parents want to know we are in their corner....that we care enough to humor them sometimes, to laugh at their jokes when it's not funny, to spend a Sunday with them even if we'd rather be watching Netflix or to accompany them to their old friend's daughter's wedding when we will rather be with our friends. 

Do it for love. Do it for God's glory. Do it to live long. Most of all, do it because these humans "birthed" you. 

Thank you for reading, but what are you still doing here? Call your parent(s) now!

Stay Inspired.....
NwaVic||| |||Instagram @dearnwavic  ||| Twitter @nwavicesq

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