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Hi Denise,

Sounds like we have similar problems. I do manage somehow to honor my parents, but I also manage to keep them at a very safe distance. They do not live close by, I do not see them often, nor do I talk to them often; yet when I do I am respectful. But I do not tell them much at all about me. No secrets, nothing that would really let them in my life. Does that make any sense to you? Or rather did I make sense? Because I get what I said but don't know how else to word it to make it any clearer.

Thanks for sharing and hope I have helped


Hi Denise,
I know exactly how you feel.  I removed myself from my family and besides the abuse from others, my mother continued her abuse into my forties.  I ran up against the concept of Honor thy mother and felt guilty for a long time until I realized I couldn't get well as long as she was in the picture.
I had to make a choice.  And I chose to be well.
I hope this helps.

Mary G.


Dear Denise,

This is a critically valuable question, and one that I suspect many struggle with answering for themselves. I have found this question very difficult. My conclusion, after 20 years of treatment and full integration (blood, sweat, and tears), has been that sometimes honoring one's parents simply means wishing them well, and praying for them--or, learning what we can from our experiences, and helping others with it. Being respectful doesn't have to mean placing ourselves in danger, or hurting ourselves.

There are many scriptures about respecting elders. In the Ten Commandments, God instructs us to honor parents. In Proverbs, Solomon advises respect of parents. I think much of this has to do with provision for elders, respect for position. In the New Testament, Jesus goes further than Moses' words from God: Jesus instructs his disciples to love one's neighbor as oneself. Love, and bless, your enemies. BUT. Jesus does not ask us to entertain evil, or to excuse it. In some instances, we are to confront it, in others, we are to avoid it.

 We are to place our spiritual well-being first. Before we are our parents' child, we are God's child. You must be able to discern bad behavior from what is truly evil. Bad behavior and outrageous mistakes can be--in many instances-- worked with and forgiven, and there may be the possibility of reconcilitation to some degree. Even pursuing that, as I see it, can be "honoring" a parent by bringing them closer to recovery. Evil, however, is never honored. In fact, it may be best to turn to God in prayer. Simply remove oneself from any danger, and ask for God's protection.

I am not certain that honoring a parent is possible in every case, and I wouldn't be so presumptuous as to tell someone how to feel. I'm not exactly sure what shape this "honor" is supposed to take. I think God is big enough to handle our imperfections. When I am unable to forgive, or unable to honor a parent (which I take to mean respect), I say: "God, this is just too big. You handle it for me for now. Forgive me, and protect me." One book I recommend is Boundaries by Cloud (if you are searching for something from a Protestant/Christian perspective).

 Keep in mind that Jesus was crystal clear in his message about how to treat children: with love. I do not ever find any instruction to honor abusive behavior. Further, in Corinthians chapter 13, the apostle Paul defines love as behavior. Corinthians teaches what love is, and what it is not. Solomon, in Proverbs, also advises parents not to provoke their children to wrath. When Jesus said to love our neighbor as ourself, he meant it. As ourself. We are to care for ourselves first.



Dear Denise

First, let me say that I am not MP. I dissociate all too often though.  Emotionally abused and sexually abused. I find myself lost, driving down some unknown road that minutes ago looked familiar and had a name. I find  life is a bunch of fragments like worn and tattered puzzle pieces.  I have no intact  memories. I have flashes of pieces as disconnected as I am. I see everything from outside myself. I never see my abuser, just a terrified 4-5 yr old child.  Therapy, allows some of the pieces to fit together some of the time.

Perhaps, your answer lies in understanding how you define honor and knowing what emotion that word brings forth for you. I can only speak of my own experience. I have had to take a good hard look at how I define so many words. I have had to redefine so many painful words. My definitions have all been colored by the lies I have been told by my parents. I accepted them all as they were etched into my life. I believed they were right which made me oh, so wrong. At 51 yrs old, I am beginning to reasses them one at a time.

Today, is Fathers' Day. I called to talk to my abuser and wish him a happy day. He was not home. I left a message. I did not feel badly about calling because it is what I chose to do. Choosing is pivital. I did not choose at 4. Am I still angry at him,...yes. Does he have any idea how many unhappy days I have But when I wake up tomorrow morning, I will be able to look at myself as I brush my teeth and be at peace with my actions. I honor myself. I honor the 4 year old who once upon a time idolized her father.

 I feel the trust in my decision. I will not run or hide anymore. I can grasp a little self-esteem even if it doesn't last past a moment or two. The honor I bestow reflects more on the honor of who I will be when all of the pieces fit snuggly together and when simply breathing is easier.

Finally, what you heard might not be what you need to embrace. Just because it is written or spoken, it doesn't mean it is so.

I am not sure this is at all helpful.

Hoping you find your truth.  



The first person that any of us would benefit to honour is ourselves.  I'm having a little trouble writing tonight because I'm slightly blended with a part that wants to really tell their version, which is more about their anger than what would be helpful to you.  So with that said,  Parents have and had a responsibility to not abuse.  Some may think that forgiveness is the only truth, and that's fine.  I think that when we are looking for our truth and do not allow ourselves to work through our anger about our parents or perps that we can artificially do the nice or correct thing.  Finding out what is your truth regarding your parents, no matter what any of us say, is the most important thing.  You do not have to act until you are clear.  Give yourself the space you need, you will know what to do.  

When dealing with my anger about my mother, I had resigned myself that she may die without me resolving my anger towards her and I gave myself permission to remain with my anger until it was resolved.  Now, I will also say that whenI took care of my dying mother, I had resolved my anger to the most part, and caring for her became a gift in my life. 

I still have unresolved anger for my other perps and it is doubtful that will change any time soon.  I can live with that.  I tend to believe that god, or the universe, has no problem with my anger.  I believe that anger serves a very good purpose.  As far as confronting your parents:  Some say do it, some say don't, in the literature.  If you are wanting to confront to help your healing and have no expectation of their response that is one thing.  You cannot guarantee what their response will be and it could be negative, which could cause you more heartache.  Listen inside, and you will know what to do here too. 
Best to you. 



Greetings Denise,

I am a survivor as well as an ordained pastor and struggled a lot with that one.  I will share what helped me as I worked through that and maybe it will be helpful to you as well as to others.   The quote comes from the Bible in Exodus and what are known as the 10 Commandments.  It is also found in Deuteronomy.   In both of the Old Testament passages there is more to the quote.  "Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, so that your days may be long and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you." 
I have brought that up because it is the second part of the quote that is the freeing part.  I discovered that for me, my honoring them is not because of who they are but because of who I wish to be.  I do not wish to be a person who holds grudges, is filled with bitterness or fear or hatred or who treats others in dishonorable ways.  I realized that when I acted from the idea of who I wanted to be and rather than who they were or weren't I found they had less of a hold on me and my emotions and my life.  They were no longer the ones who defined who I was or who I wished to be.  It isn't easy and sometimes I fail in that but I am getting better at it.  In being a person who acts with honor towards others I find my days are much better on the earth.  As I try to recover from all the abuse and unthinkable things that happened to me in the past I try to live it with honor, grace, health, wholeness and forgiveness. 


Dear Denise,

I am not a counselor, I'm a survivor too. I'm older, and my parents have both been dead for many years. Both were abusers in different ways, and some of it seriously affected my life--still affects my life, to be honest.

I've also been in recovery for a long time. At the beginning, I couldn't stand to think about my parents' behavior, let alone 'honor' them in any way at all. But there had been years before I was diagnosed when I didn't recall the worst events. So afterward, I lived with a lot of internal conflict. There were good things they did for me, and very very bad things they did to me.

Now, after many years have passed, I've come to a place inside where I still get angry and sad about the bad things. But I am able, somehow, to also respect some of the good they did. For example, they were both great readers and they taught me to appreciate reading and learning. They loved gardening, and so I love flowers and gardening. They loved art, cultural events, and the wide variety of people in the world. I believe I learned to appreciate diversity and culture from them.

My parents did monstrous things at times. But they weren't complete monsters. (Some people in recovery may have had 'complete monsters' as parents - I don't know if those people could or should 'honor' those abusers.) For me, now that I am older than my father was when he died, I see him as a complicated, sick man - but one with some good points, nevertheless. And I see my mother as, to some degree, a battered wife with low self-esteem who often handled things poorly, and certainly supported her husband more than defending her children. And I remember her inexplicable coldness to me -- but see it now as, perhaps, a reaction to her own abuse. I haven't "forgiven her" for abusing me as she did. Or for neglecting me. But I am able, somehow, to honor her better aspects--to recognize that she also was a complicated mixture of positive and negative human traits.

I don't think my way is the answer for others. But it has worked for me.