"Honoring" how?


#1

I know we’re to honor our father and mother, but am not entirely sure what that involves. I have a biological father who may’ve molested me, who used to rant and rage at home, whom I’ve not seen in over 35 years, whom I wouldn’t walk across the street to see. I’ve tried to pray for him-- I say the words, but I feel nothing.

I had a step-/adoptive father who was unpleasant, sour-tempered, overly-strict, and used humiliation and mockery as his chief child-raising techniques. We sort of made peace before he died, but I’m still angry about a lot of things.

I love my mom, but in recent years she’s turned into an unpleasant nag. She treats me like a child. Every time I try to talk to her about my problems she dismisses them and holds forth on how much worse her life has been. She accuses me of self-pity, while failing to notice her own. Some people have suggested she might have borderline personality disorder. She’s very hard to deal with, and she makes my life very difficult.

So how do I “honor” these difficult people?


#2

Two words: Invest wisely.

When dealing with destructive/mean-spirited, mentally unhinged and/or totally self-absorbed people–do not waste your precious emotional and spiritual resources on them. Limit your time, energy and expectations–not to be punitive or spiteful–but purely out of self-defense.

When it’s parents–check on them with some routine–once a month, for example. Keep contacts brief and as positive as possible. Ask them questions about themselves and listen. Do not offer up details of your life that will become fodder for conflict. If they still manage to cross the line… a simple, unemotional “I’m not comfortable discussing that” should suffice. If they push your buttons/boundaries/comfort zone–all you have to say is "hey mom, I need to go, good to catch up with you we’ll have to continue this next time…

Then look around at the people in your life who make you feel loved, confident, special, smart, attractive, secure. Say a prayer of thanks for them and share with them your time, emotion, love, triumphs, vulnerability, honesty, fears, and affection–remembering the wisdom of the old saying “friends are the family we chose for ourselves.”


#3

But how is that honoring them?

I should hasten to add I have plenty of psychological problems of my own, including depression, anxiety, OCD, feelings of hopelessness, and all, and am pretty self-absorbed myself. But my problems with these people just compound my own.


#4

Continue praying for him. Prayer isn’t about feeling, it’s about doing. It’s not supposed to be therapeutic, although sometimes it can be. You say he “may have” molested you. Do you remember incidents, or has someone else told you that it happened? Find a therapist who can help you work through these issues.

I had a step-/adoptive father who was unpleasant, sour-tempered, overly-strict, and used humiliation and mockery as his chief child-raising techniques. We sort of made peace before he died, but I’m still angry about a lot of things.

Again, pray for his soul. I’ve stood in your shoes so I’m not saying it’s easy, but we are still commanded to pray for those who harm or who have harmed us.

I love my mom, but in recent years she’s turned into an unpleasant nag. She treats me like a child. Every time I try to talk to her about my problems she dismisses them and holds forth on how much worse her life has been. She accuses me of self-pity, while failing to notice her own. Some people have suggested she might have borderline personality disorder. She’s very hard to deal with, and she makes my life very difficult.

Oh honey do I know what you’re talking about there. I took care of my grandmother during the last three years of her life and she was increasingly bitter and nasty; she would hide my bills from me because I was “too irresponsible” to pay them on my own, etc. She would get nasty about whatever I told her was happening in my life (problems with my boss were always my fault and because I was “disobedient”) and then when I stopped telling her anything she would say I was “sneaky.” I fed it because I feared that asserting myself as an adult was “dishonoring” to her. Eventually, way after she died, I realized that telling her anything about my life beyond “Everything’s fine” was like crack to an addict; she would twist any bad thing around and make it about her and feed it right into her bitterness. Then she could mope for a couple of days that she’d been a terrible mom to me (she raised me) and she should have just croaked long ago, etc. I realized that I had ultimately been dishonoring her by giving her stuff to obsess and be upset about, in the way that putting a bottle of whiskey on the table in front of an alcoholic parent is dishonoring. If you find a subject sends your mom into orbit then avoid it; if she persists tell her,“Mom, we’re going to have to agree to disagree on that. That subject is closed. Do you think it’s going to rain soon?” Pray for her, too. Maybe God has a miracle in mind for you and your mom, maybe there’s a miracle for your own peace of mind, but you’ll miss it if you don’t participate by praying, you know?

I’ll be praying for you.


#5

All this is really wonderful advice. I am blessed to have a great relationship with both my mom and my in-laws (and with my now-deceased grandmothers). But, honoring does not mean letting someone be destructive. You should definately pray for all three. A prayer that your fathers made peace with God would be sufficent. With your mom, you don’t need to discuss your plans or problems. Certainly check on her, make sure she is safe, healthy, etc (I assume she is aging.) The rest of the conversatin can be about general topics–sports, the weather, recent movies, cross-stitch, the like.

I will be praying, blessing on you.


#6

By following Island Oak’s above advice - you are honoring them.

To honor them in a way of respect, politeness, and not continuing to harbor or instigate any issues that make it both unpleasant for you and for them.

To honor them by protecting yourself from emotional harm is indeed a mechanism to show respect for your parents as they would want you to be a happy and well adjusted adult.

To honor them by ensuring your continued prayers for their well being are sincere and honest and not done out of feelings of guilt or resentment from unpleasant meetings or words exchanged.

To honor them by continuing to struggle with your own issues and still be a fine person with a good and holy heart capable of making and caring for true friends who care for you as you do them.

To honor them by offering up these crosses in prayer for help and healing. Good luck and God Bless.


#7

Do not think of “honor” as displaying accolades. Think of “honor” as respect.

There are some people who, while they are not worthy of the respect of assisting grown people in choices, are nonetheless limitedly respected because of some act.

In the case of these people, the best thing to do would be to pray for them.

I DO know where you’re coming from on most of this, and I would recommend the book from exceptionalmarriages.com/ God Help Me! These People Are Driving Me Nuts!


#8

I would add that when you must give honor to somebody who is acting in a non-honorable way, you do so by not ‘playing the game’.

For example, a decent parent doesn’t make unreasonable demands of an adult child, such as expecting the adult child to structure his/her life around the parent rather than around the adult child’s spouse and children. The adult child honors such an unreasonable parent by putting his/her own spouse and children first. By refusing to cave to the parent’s disordered wishes and instead doing the right thing, the adult child honors his/her parent by behaving as if the parent had reasonable expectations.


#9

I’ve found one of the best ways to honor my MIL, who is an entirely unpleasant, emotionally unstable person, is by NOT allowing our conversations/brief contacts to spiral into opportunities for her to indulge in hystrionics. Seriously. By keeping contact as brief and as superficial as possible, I am honoring her by not giving her a forum to air out her “issues”. In fact, I have been advised several times by my priest during confession to avoid (as much as possible) topics that she could twist into a nasty scene.

This, of course, would only work with living parents. Decased ones are a different matter.


#10

Take care of your parents in their old age!!!

Only wish I had children as opposed to strangers to help me in my old age. Maybe I’ll die you.


#11

My wife was sexually abused by her biological father.

Tell me, how should she honor him?

She doesn’t have too. Neither do you.

Pray for them.


#12

This honor stuff is a two way street (IMO).

My parents separated when I was five. My father didn’t know how to be a father. At least he paid child support, but wasn’t willing to contribute a penny to college. That’s a real big deal in my mother’s family. Long story short, it took me 50 years to understand him, 15 years after his death.

I went to his grave today. Those who claimed to defend him and put me down have long forgotten him. Thanks be to God, I’m going to be here to honor him for trying to do the best he knew how. It wasn’t enough for me, but it was the best he could do. He’ll have beautiful flowers on his grave as often as I can keep them there.


#13

That is honor, by concern for their soul.

That does not mean she has to put herself in harm’s way. And neither does any other victim of molestation.


#14

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