Everyone has a complicated relationship with their parents, but some sage advice can help make it better.
In the Big Ten Commandments, God tells us that we have to honor our parents. The sages explain that we honor our parents because we must recognize and be grateful to them for bringing us into this world. It’s a fact - our parents are the reason we are here. For that reason alone, our sages teach, it’s only right that we accord them all the honor and assistance that we can. Furthermore, if we can establish this idea deeply in our consciousness, it will allow us to recognize all the goodness God does for us on a constant basis.
But our parents did more than just bring us into the world. They fed us, clothed us, sheltered us. They showered us with affection, gifts, and attention without getting thanks most of the time. They provided a system of values. They taught us right from wrong. They held us when we were scared, took us to the doctor when we broke a bone, they stood up for us even when we were wrong. And on and on.
Was any parent ever perfect? No. They made tons of mistakes, because being a good parents is a challenging job. It’s all easy when you are sitting there in your diaper on the high chair and smiling. You eat some banana and laugh. Everyone is smiling and clapping at your brilliant banana eating. You are a star.
Then you start to scream and cry. And your parents get nervous. You cry more. They start wiping your face to get the banana off. They think you are choking on some banana. They start to freak out. Then they see your diaper is leaking all over you. Or sometimes they don’t stop freaking out — I mean they are still freaking out when you are 25 and live on your own.
It’s only because they love us so so much. If they didn’t love us they honestly wouldn’t care at all. They just have difficulty expressing themselves.
But you think we have been perfect kids? Ha! Shall I start listing all the nonsense, trouble, and shenanigans that we pulled as kids and our parents still fed us dinner and bought us shoes when we needed them? You get the picture.
Can you imagine, someone is trying to get out of honoring their parents, so they think they can buy their way out of it — like it's a parking ticket. They write a check and say, “Here mom and dad, here is $250,000 check for you. I want to repay you for all the work and stuff you did for me when I was growing up.” Funny, right?
Our parents put up with SO MUCH to get us to where we are today, that we cannot possibly ever repay them for their kindness. What we can do to “repay” them is honor them. That will make them feel like you recognize all that they did for you. That’s it. Honor them.
Our parents put up with SO MUCH to get us to where we are today, that we cannot possibly ever repay them for their kindness.
So if you want to start TODAY and make the relationship with you parents better, here is what you can do:
Call them and then let them talk. About anything. And be interested. And listen. Don’t text or surf or do your nails. Give them 10 quality minutes of time. After all they did for you — can you spare 10 minutes today?
Please: Don’t get into any arguments or debates.
To ideas you like say, “Thanks thats a great idea.” To ideas you are not sure about say, “Thanks, I will think about that!” Tell them you love them and wish them a Shabbat Shalom, or to have a great weekend — you can choose the appropriate phrase.
Go ahead. I’m waiting.