Does "Honor Your Mother and Father" Apply to In-laws?


#1

Especially if they are/have been abusive to you or your spouse?


#2

You ought to respect them as you would respect your own parents, had they been abusive. They are due the respect that comes with their calling in life--they did bring your spouse into the world and will be your children's grandparents--but they are not entitled to a trust or a relationship based on trust that they have squandered. (I hope it is obvious that they deserve every respect that is due them merely as human beings.)

Consider that the President of the United States deserves a certain level of respect, even if he is a poor president. Likewise, the police, and so on with anyone whose authority was gained by legitimate means or recognized by those with the authority to give it. So when you are in their presence, give them the respect due their position as your husband's parents. It reflects on you as much as on them.

OTOH, a parent can squander a parent-child relationship. They must be forgiven--that is, we must reserve judgement on them and leave punishment for God, and let go of ill will against them--but reconciliation or the rebuilding of a relationship is a two-way street. Does that make sense?


#3

[quote="pkdsquared, post:1, topic:230881"]
Especially if they are/have been abusive to you or your spouse?

[/quote]

"Honor everyone." (1 Peter 2:17)


#4

Be polite, but you do have to allow them to babysit your children!


#5

honour your father and mother doess not only impy to your parents, but to everyone. you should have reverence towards everyone ( the aknowledgement that every person has dignity). For example, even though britney spears can sometimes act insane (like the head-shaving incident) we have to respect her as a human being.:thumbsup:


#6

[quote="pkdsquared, post:1, topic:230881"]
Especially if they are/have been abusive to you or your spouse?

[/quote]

I would say that it depends on what the particular situation is. We've been discussing parents/relatives with narcissistic personality disorder in this thread. Many of us have shared their stories or links to previous posts where they discuss the issues they are/ have been facing.

Sometimes the best way to honor your father and mother is to stay away, limit contact as much as possible, and pray for them. If they are being abusive, trying to break up your marriage (as my in-laws have), without any regard of the consequences for you or your children, esp. are putting you/ your spouse down in front of the children, etc., then staying in touch and letting them abuse you would mean that, on one hand, they sin through their actions, and, on the other, they cause you to sin, esp. if they make you angry, resentful, etc.

But, again, it depends on the particular situation. If you would like to, you might share more about the particular circumstances your family is in. It is hard to give advice without knowing them.

Wishing you all the best! :)


#7

It does not mean tolerating the abuse, especially if it is currently going on or was never resolved from the past.

As the previous person said, sometimes "honoring" can mean not having contact with them.


#8

I believe that you should honor your in-laws, even if a healthy distance is the way in which you honor them! I think the point is to not berate them or treat them poorly. Honor them as long as you can until you can no longer do so - AKA, you are close to your breaking point!

My FIL is an abusive alcoholic, and so is his wife (step mother in law). We avoid them as much as possible, since they get drunk and spout racial slurs every time we see them, and I would NEVER leave my daughter alone with them. They get all weepy sometimes and wonder 'why you guys never come and visit', because they have been so wasted that they forgot we were there.

I honor them by letting them see our daughter in very supervised, cautious environments. They get to see her and love on her, she gets to see them, but if things take a turn for the worse we can always say 'oh look at the time, little Fiona is ready for bed', or 'we need to hit the road'. I pray for them a lot.


#9

Another way: honoring them in this situation would be to take their best attribute and try to carry that on in your own children.

Another: not badmouthing them.

In other words, there are ways to honor your (or your spouse's) parents without being a doormat.


#10

Honour means to regard with great respect (Oxford dictionary). It also mentioned guarding a person's honour.

Therefore, you should think about your actions, words and thoughts in reference to your in-laws, and ask yourself if these are highly respectful to them. It's hard to do, I know (believe me, I know). They may not treat you in a respectful way, but as your parents in law, they are your spouse's parents, and you are duty bound by marriage to help your spouse to fulfill all obligations, therefore you take on this one.

As well as considering how you act towards them, how you speak to them and how you think of them, you should also consider how you speak of them. You need to safeguard their honour in public as well. (speaking to myself here as well)

This is a tremendously difficult cross to bear because these are people who should be supportive of you in your marriage and it's so very unfair, but I was advised once that the people who are hardest to love are the ones we should strive hardest for, to get them to Heaven. They need the most love.


#11

[quote="ThereseOfRoses, post:7, topic:230881"]
It does not mean tolerating the abuse, especially if it is currently going on or was never resolved from the past.

As the previous person said, sometimes "honoring" can mean not having contact with them.

[/quote]

Or as the rabbi said in Fiddler on the Roof:
God bless and keep the Tzar....far away from us!!


#12

Thank you all for your insight. My mother in law is very.... ill. She has many mental illnesses (diagnosed) and many bad complexes, such a martyr complex (partially diagnosed- she stopped going to therapy the minute she heard something she didn't want to hear.) She has always been pretty verbally abusive to my DH, and has said very rude comments to my face as well as behind my back to my SIL about myself and my family. She can't ever hear the truth about things because she goes into a fit. She either blames everyone else for her problems and plays the victim or she lashes out and says very hurtful things. DH has tried to talk to her about things that happened to him as a kid, and she always says "Oh, I don't remember anything, it's my bipolar." etc. She won't take responsibilty for anything that happened and therefore my husband can't really forgive her because she's not sorry. She thinks she has done nothing wrong.
We're having our marriage convalidated, so we have been having a lot of contact with her lately, which we typically try not to do. She wanted to go to mass with us last weekend, and she spent the entire car-ride talking about how pointless she thinks the Catholic Church is and how it's all pretty man-made and we can't get "hung up on things" like practicing NFP, etc. She was raised Catholic all her life, and has rosaries and prayer cards all over her house...
I was just looking for some insight because I was listening to CAL and a woman who was in a verbally and emotionally abusive marriage called in about it and the answer was that we only really have to forgive when the person is contrite and asks forgiveness. Not to say that we are carrying around the things she has done with us. I basically told my husband I am willing to fulfill my familial duty as a DIL when it extends to short visits on holidays or birthdays and nothing else. He understands and feels basically the same way, but of course has a few more duties as a son...


#13

[quote="pkdsquared, post:12, topic:230881"]
Thank you all for your insight. My mother in law is very.... ill. She has many mental illnesses (diagnosed) and many bad complexes, such a martyr complex (partially diagnosed- she stopped going to therapy the minute she heard something she didn't want to hear.) She has always been pretty verbally abusive to my DH, and has said very rude comments to my face as well as behind my back to my SIL about myself and my family. She can't ever hear the truth about things because she goes into a fit. She either blames everyone else for her problems and plays the victim or she lashes out and says very hurtful things. DH has tried to talk to her about things that happened to him as a kid, and she always says "Oh, I don't remember anything, it's my bipolar." etc. She won't take responsibilty for anything that happened and therefore my husband can't really forgive her because she's not sorry. She thinks she has done nothing wrong.
We're having our marriage convalidated, so we have been having a lot of contact with her lately, which we typically try not to do. She wanted to go to mass with us last weekend, and she spent the entire car-ride talking about how pointless she thinks the Catholic Church is and how it's all pretty man-made and we can't get "hung up on things" like practicing NFP, etc. She was raised Catholic all her life, and has rosaries and prayer cards all over her house...
I was just looking for some insight because I was listening to CAL and a woman who was in a verbally and emotionally abusive marriage called in about it and the answer was that we only really have to forgive when the person is contrite and asks forgiveness. Not to say that we are carrying around the things she has done with us. I basically told my husband I am willing to fulfill my familial duty as a DIL when it extends to short visits on holidays or birthdays and nothing else. He understands and feels basically the same way, but of course has a few more duties as a son...

[/quote]

Woah! This has me a bit confused (the bold part). CAL said that you only need to forgive if the other person asks for forgiveness? I must disagree with this. I believe that we can forgive someone who has hurt us, even if they don't acknowledge any wrong doing. We don't have to tell them anything, just forgive them in our heart and stop carrying a grudge. If they ask forgiveness, then tell them that you do forgive them. Remember the line from the Pater Noster:
"Forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us".

I'd rather err on the side of caution and not wait for an apology, in the hope that God may look more favourably on my intentions.
Also, if someone hurts you and due to a disordered mind doesn't know they have done wrong, do you carry that offence around forever, waiting for the person to realise they hurt you, or do you let it go?
Don't let this become your baggage - forgive without apology is my opinion.

Having said that, I'm going to go do some research into the topic of forgiveness without apology. Seems there may be more to it.


#14

[quote="admonsta, post:13, topic:230881"]
Woah! This has me a bit confused (the bold part). CAL said that you only need to forgive if the other person asks for forgiveness? I must disagree with this. I believe that we can forgive someone who has hurt us, even if they don't acknowledge any wrong doing. We don't have to tell them anything, just forgive them in our heart and stop carrying a grudge. If they ask forgiveness, then tell them that you do forgive them. Remember the line from the Pater Noster:
"Forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us".
I'd rather err on the side of caution and not wait for an apology, in the hope that God may look more favourably on my intentions.
Also, if someone hurts you and due to a disordered mind doesn't know they have done wrong, do you carry that offence around forever, waiting for the person to realise they hurt you, or do you let it go?
Don't let this become your baggage - forgive without apology is my opinion.

Having said that, I'm going to go do some research into the topic of forgiveness without apology. Seems there may be more to it.

[/quote]

"Only God forgives sin." (CCC 1441). When we forgive others, what we are really saying is something like, "Forgive them Father, I harbor no ill will against them, may we both be reconciled in You." An explicit apology from them is not required for you to forgive them in this sense. However...

Forgiveness of sin is only effected by man being united to God from whom sin separates him in some way. This separation is made complete by mortal sin, and incomplete by venial sin. Sin cannot be forgiven so long as the will is attached to sin. To be united to God and therefore be forgiven, it is necessary to turn away from sin, and turn back toward God. This is called "conversion." Conversion is the movement of a "contrite heart," drawn and moved by grace to respond to the merciful love of God. Jesus' call to conversion aims first "at the conversion of the heart, **interior conversion**." (CCC 1430). A contrite heart is a sorrowful heart. Consequently, while an explicit apology is not required, there is no forgiveness of sin without union with God which comes only from sorrow of soul.


#15

We owe them love - we owe them respect - we don't them obedience. After all a man cleaves from his family and clings to his wife. My divorce was just finalized yesterday and this is what I learned - your home is a partnership between you and your husband that represents the relationship between Christ and his bride the Church. I didn't see the in-laws being asked in Ephesians for their opinion.


#16

I think we may agree, but I’d like to follow this through a bit further if you don’t mind.

We pray “forgive us our sins”, asking God to forgive sins (as you said), then we say “as we forgive those who sin against us” - we are not saying "as we forgive the sins of those who… etc). A small thing maybe, but in the prayer we are not saying that we forgive sins. So what does it mean to forgive a person? I think it means, as you said, that you bear no ill will against the person. I guess part of this could be to ask the Father to forgive them (as Jesus did). I’ve never thought about that particular aspect, and I wonder how you handle it in a situation where the other person may not know they have hurt you. God knows better than we the truth of the matter, and there may well be no sin to forgive. Jesus is God, so he also knew the state of their hearts, and could ask God to forgive them. So can/should we?

An example, for clarity: Mother in Law is doing her best to get along with Daughter in Law, but says “In my day, we used cloth nappies, not these disposable ones.” and for the sake of argument, she meant it purely as an interesting comment. Due to lots of past history, when MIL wasn’t being very nice, Daughter in Law takes MIL’s comment as a criticism of her mothering skills. She forgives, tries to hold no grudge and asks God to forgive her MIL. But God knows there is nothing to forgive. Is the DIL wrong to be asking God to forgive MIL without really knowing her MIL’s heart?

I guess my point might be that it sounds almost like a complaint to God in disguise (“God, my MIL has upset me again, please forgive her for being so mean.”). Maybe it’s okay to complain to God. I think I’ve still got to think about this some more. Comments gratefully accepted.


#17

We need to remember that honor and respect doesn't mean giving into every little thing with parents. It just means setting appropriate and healthy boundaries to honor the love and respect you have for them.

Personally, I don't have issues with my in-laws but there are times when FIL says something off-putting. Instead of raising the issue up with him, I choose to respect and honor him by ignoring what he said instead of engaging into a potentially harmful and argumentative conversation.

The best way to model this is to establish this relationship with your own parents first, and then allow your spouse to see how this is modeled. After all, if you don't have an honorable or respectful relationship with your parents that also entails good boundaries, how can one's spouse know what to do?

That includes setting limits too. If you noticed that your mom isn't being very respectful to your wife guess what-- your wife comes before your mom. Bible says to "leave and cleave," and in doing so, saying something like "mom, I would like you to not speak to her that way. She is my wife and we will consider how to do things together, and if necessary consider your opinion." If your wife sees that you are cleaving and are setting an appropriate limit to certain behaviors, she'll have more respect for the way you do things and will repeat that behavior. It provides consistency and also reduces conflict that can arise from miscommunication or inconsistencies with interactions.


#18

[quote="admonsta, post:16, topic:230881"]
.... I guess part of this could be to ask the Father to forgive them (as Jesus did). I've never thought about that particular aspect, and I wonder how you handle it in a situation where the other person may not know they have hurt you.

[/quote]

St. Gregory taught that we are to be silent when discretion requires, speak when words are of service. I think that in some circumstances, it may be conducive to reconciliation that we tell the other person that they have hurt us. "Charity demands...fraternal correction." (CCC 1829). Yet, in some circumstances, it may also be prudent to be silent.

St. Thomas Aquinas taught that culpability for sin is linked to voluntariness., which requires knowledge and consent. For instance, Saul explicitly rejected Christianity, but he "obtained...mercy...because [he] did it ignorantly." (1 Tim 1:13). Thus, St. Thomas taught "whatever is a reason for sin to be forgiven, diminishes sin." (ST, IIa, 76, 4). If they didn't know they hurt you, this would certainly be an reason for a sin and its culpability to be diminished, that is, forgiven.

Can we have sorrow and repentance for sins we do even not know we've committed? I think so. The Psalmist prays, "But who can discern his errors? Clear thou me from hidden faults." (Psalm 19:12). Consequently, while an explicit expression is not required, "internal repentance" which includes sorrow of the soul is a necessary condition of forgiveness, even from our hidden faults.

Jesus is God, so he also knew the state of their hearts, and could ask God to forgive them. So can/should we?

Yes, we can and should. We pray "Forgive us our sins." We don't simply ask God to for MY sins. But as I said above, our prayer for forgiveness is an appeal to the Father to have mercy on us as we forgive those we have considered "indebted" to us.

According to the Latin form of the "Our Father" (Pater Noster), sins as called 'debita' or debts. In Greek, the word is "opheilema", which literally means, "that which is owed, legally due, a debt." It is used metaphorically for "sin." We are literally praying, "forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." It may serve reconciliation to tell the person who owes the debt that they no longer owe the debt to us. However, sometimes, when that is not possible or prudent, we can certainly forgive them of the debt without their requesting it, without their even knowing it.

Nonetheless, in the final analysis, it is only God that forgives the debt, and he requires repentence. Sin it is not simply an offense against man, but is an offense against Him. For those who obstinantly refuse to repent, refusing to turn away from a willful attachment to sin and turn again toward God to be united to Him, there is no forgiveness.

And yes, it is OK to complain to God. The Psalmist did it quite frequently. It is how we "wrestle" with God. Israel means literally "wreslted with God." We have been grafted into a people who wrestle with God daily, and I think this is what we've been called upon to do as well.


#19

Thanks Dave for a thought-provoking response.


#20

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