Honouring your parents


i know this is the 4th commandment but how does it play out in real life?

does it mean you have to obey them about everything?

what if they were abusive?

or what if they disapprove of things when you’re an adult, like the person you want to marry or what you study in school?

any help is appreciated. my mom always like to throw that line at me whenever i disagree with her about anything


I suggest you read the entire section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the 4th commandment. It will answer all your questions.

No, you are not obligated to “obey” parents as an adult, particularly regarding a choice of college/job, vocation or spouse.


Honor is not the same as obey.

Honor is respect. Honor is also a keen sense of right and wrong.

Many of us have one or both parents who were not able to be proper parents. Some loved us too little and some controlled us too much. Yet, they gave us life. Should we not honor them to some degree because of the great gift of life?

Most of us have one or both parents who have done reasonably well in raising us. Perfect parenting is not the minimum requirement to be met before we can honor them for their efforts. Doing the best we can to keep a civil tongue when we converse may be a challenge, but we can do it. For the love of God ,we can honor our parent/s.

As long as we rely on our parent/s for support, we do owe them a certain amount of obedience in addition to honor. We are not required to obey by committing any wrongs if we can avoid it. But there is a major difference in avoiding doing a wrong and just not wanting to do something that is right just to show we are our own person. Simple example: We clean the dishes, the laundry, the house, the yard etc. both to honor and obey and to return something for the good provided to us. It is dishonorable, IMO, to constantly fight our parent/s trying to get out of keeping a decent place to live.

Once we are of age and self supporting, our requirement to obey fades away. Honor remains as long as we live, sometimes long after they have died. We are called to respect their memory and let the real or perceived pain fade away. Do not feed the negative.

God has given us the great gift of Freedom. Many a 3 year old has strongly said, “I am the boss of me!” We are called to use our Freedom wisely. We need trusted advisors all of our days, young to very old. We are not required to seek advice from our parent/s on every decision. But the advice we get from those who love us should always be weighed. It may be wrong. It may be right. It may lead us to a better decision not expressed by the advisor.

Regardless from whom an idea comes from, we should always ask ourselves what is the better action to take that will result in the most good for those involved?

We should not automatically reject advice just because it comes from mom and I am 25. We are not required to follow it. But it is prudent to consider it. Discuss it civilly to be sure we’ve made an effort to understand. and be understood. Then make a decision and accept responsibility for our own actions.




As an adult, you should still honor your parents and ask them for advice. However, that does not mean that you have to do every little thing that they tell you in regard to your vocation.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.