Have you ever had a disagreement with your parents? Have you ever been in a conflict with your mom or dad? Have you ever experienced a difficulty, an argument or a difference of opinion with one or both of your parents?
If you’re like most teens, you know that it’s common to experience some difficulties in getting along with your parents from time to time. So what’s the best way to handle those situations where you and your parents disagree or just aren’t getting along? Well, this time around we’ll look at some of what the Bible has to say about your relationship with your parents and how to handle those areas of disagreement.
Now before we get started, The Doctor wants to say that he is well aware that many of you don’t live with one or both of your parents. The Doctor knows that divorce, separation or the untimely death of a parent often creates situations where one or both parents are unavailable for many youth. So if you’re in a circumstance like this, you’re certainly not alone.
But even if you are in a situation where you are not living with one or both of your parents, it’s still important to listen to the Bible’s teaching on parental relationships. Instead of simply disregarding the Bible’s teaching on parental relationships just because you aren’t living with one or both of your parents, The Doctor would encourage you to check out these teachings and then look for ways to apply them in your own particular situation, whatever it happens to be.
Although it’s not always very popular, one important Biblical teaching on this subject is found in Ephesians 6:1-3…
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother– which is the first commandment with a promise– ‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth'” (Ephesians 6:1-3 NIV).
First, let’s establish that God’s Word tells you that it’s right to obey your parents as stated in the verse above. You may not want to hear this, but the basic truth is that listening to your parents and doing what they tell you is the right thing to do in God’s view. Next, the Bible teaches that you must also honor your parents. This means that even if your parents do something that makes you really, really mad, you still have a responsibility to treat them respectfully.
But how about this- is it ever right to disobey your parents? Well, notice that the first verse quoted above says, Children, obey your parents in the Lord. Obedience to your parents presumes that they are living in a God-honoring manner or “in the Lord” as it says. For example, if your parents ask you to do something that clearly and unmistakably violates God’s Word then they are not asking you to do something “in the Lord” are they?
To illustrate this idea, let’s use an extreme example that The Doctor hopes would never actually occur. Let’s say that your parents were to ask you to steal something from the local convenience store. In this hypothetical situation, you would be right to disobey your parents and say no. You see, stealing from the convenience store just isn’t something that can be done “in the Lord” and you have a responsibility to honor God first by not stealing things.
On the other hand, if your parents tell you to do something like clean your room, then you really can’t get out of it- you have to obey your parents in the Lord.
Now that we have that cleared up, let’s move on to another situation. Let’s say that you’re having problems getting along with your parents. That’s not unusual- practically everyone The Doctor knows (including The Doctor himself when he was a teen) has had problems with their parents at one time or another. Some of the more common complaints are these…
- My parents are too strict
- My parents won’t listen to me
- My parents won’t let me do anything
For argument’s sake, let’s say that these complaints are totally accurate. Let’s say that your parents are completely unreasonable. Let’s say that they treat you like a child and they don’t recognize you as someone who is becoming a young adult. They won’t let you do things that you think are totally reasonable- things that other parents let their teens do. They’re always on your back, they’re always complaining and they’re always criticizing you. Nothing you do ever seems good enough for your parents. Does that sound accurate?
Ok, fair enough.
So let’s say that you are totally right and your parents are totally wrong. The Doctor would like to ask you this- does that therefore make it OK for you to act disrespectfully to your parents? Even if your parents are totally wrong, does that give you the right to be inconsiderate to them? Even if you feel that your parents are totally unreasonable, does that make it right for you to talk back to them or treat them rudely or impolitely? If you disagree with your parents, does it make it OK for you to treat them in a way that you wouldn’t want to be treated yourself?
Here’s something else to consider: think about those things that you really dislike about your parents. Perhaps it’s something in their attitude, mannerism or tone of voice that really, really bothers you. Have you ever considered the possibility that you are also doing those very same things to your parents without realizing it? In other words, is it possible that you have picked up some of those very same traits and mannerisms simply through living with your parents for all these years? Is it possible that you are having problems with your mother or father because you are acting towards them in the very same way that they are acting towards you? Think about it…
“I can’t stand my father- he’s so stubborn!” Well how about you? Are you acting the same way? Have you picked up that same trait that you despise so much in your parents?
“My mother never listens to me!” Well, wait a minute- is it possible that you and your mom are having a problem because you are doing the same thing and not listening to her?
Is it possible that there is so much conflict in your relationship with your parents because you are both more alike than you think? Listen, your parents may have their faults but before you come down too hard on them, why not take a look at yourself first…
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5 NIV).
If there’s something that you don’t like in the way your parents are acting towards you, first ask yourself, “Am I acting the same way towards my mom?” or “Am I acting the same way towards my dad?” If so, then the next move would be to ask God to help you change those things so you can start getting along with your parents in a way that’s better for everyone.
But what if you’ve done this and you’re still having problems with your parents? Well if it’s possible to do so, have you ever considered praying with your parents? Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 18:20- “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” If your parents are Christians, you may be pleasantly surprised by their response if you ask to pray with them. But even if you can’t pray with your parents, remember that you can still pray for them. If you ask God to give you wisdom for your situation He will surely do it for James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
You could also try to have an open discussion of the issues that are driving the disagreements between you and your parents. This could help encourage understanding and may lay the groundwork for a resolution that everyone could live with. Finally, you might also consider meeting with a mature Christian friend or church leader. Someone in this position may be able to help you and your parents resolve your differences and provide some good, solid Godly advice for preventing future problems.
So having a good relationship with your parents isn’t always the easiest thing in the world but it can often be done if you are willing to make some effort. You might think that you are in an impossible situation with your parents but never forget what Jesus once said…
“Without God, it is utterly impossible. But with God everything is possible” (Mark 10:27).