I will not obey!!!
A few years back I witnessed an event that caused me both great surprise and great suffering.  I witnessed a three-year old angry and rebellious boy kicking his mother.  But what was worse was that the mother practically did nothing to correct the child.

I intervened quickly and forcefully and sharply rebuked the child for having gravely disrespected his own mother.  Of the two who is more at fault, the mother or the little child—obviously both are deeply in the wrong!   A child should not disrespect his own mother. However, the mother is greatly to be blamed because she did not enforce strict disciplinary measures to correct the child.

My thoughts wandered afterward as to the future of this child and the mother.   If this child cannot respect and obey his mother when he is only three years of age, then how will he fare as a teenager or when he enters into the work-force where he will have to obey strict guidelines? Very bleak the future of this child, according to my humble prognosis!

You do not understand me!
A SERIOUS READING AND MEDITATION: SIRACH 3:1-18.    I invite all to read and meditate this key Biblical passage which is without a doubt one of the best Biblical passages commenting on the fourth Commandment:  “Honor your Father and Mother.”

Responsibilities to Parents*

Children, listen to me, your father;
act accordingly, that you may be safe. 

For the Lord sets a father in honor over his children
and confirms a mother’s authority over her sons. 

Those who honor their father atone for sins; 

they store up riches who respect their mother. 

Those who honor their father will have joy in their own children,
and when they pray they are heard. 

Those who respect their father will live a long life;
those who obey the Lord honor their mother. 

Those who fear the Lord honor their father,
and serve their parents as masters. 

In word and deed honor your father,
that all blessings may come to you. 

A father’s blessing gives a person firm roots,
but a mother’s curse uproots the growing plant. 

Do not glory in your father’s disgrace,
for that is no glory to you! 

A father’s glory is glory also for oneself;
they multiply sin who demean their mother. 

My son, be steadfast in honoring your father;
do not grieve him as long as he lives.

Even if his mind fails, be considerate of him;
do not revile him because you are in your prime. 

Kindness to a father will not be forgotten;
it will serve as a sin offering—it will take lasting root. 

In time of trouble it will be recalled to your advantage,
like warmth upon frost it will melt away your sins. 

Those who neglect their father are like blasphemers;
those who provoke their mother are accursed by their Creator. 

I will not listen nor obey you!
I will give a brief summary of the strong but very clear contents of this all too forgotten, misunderstood, or simply ignored biblical passage.  I believe all parents should read and meditate and assimilate this passage. Spouses should try to understand it and implement it in the formation and education of their children. If done, their family will experience much more peace, harmony, joy, long life, and most important eternal life.  Following is a brief summary of the most salient points of this masterful, Magna Carta for the family, enshrining the primordial importance of the love, respect and obedience children should have towards their parents.

1.    LONG LIFE!   The word of God promises children a long life if they honor and respect their parents.  This “long life” has a double interpretation: long life in this temporal stay on earth, but most important long life in Heaven.

2.    AUTHORITY.  Frequently today, due to a false interpretation of democracy, all are on an equal basis.  It is true that we are all created in the image and likeness of God and have a unique and eternal destiny, which is heaven.  However, to say that all are on an equal basis, especially in the context of the family, is simply false!  Many parents, both Mom and Dad, want to be like “Big-brothers” or “Big-sisters” or if you like simply the “Best Friends” to their children. Granted, parents should be friendly and liked and loved by their children. However, there is an intrinsically different role of a parent towards the child than his own sibling and friend.  Parents have authority over their children.  The state cannot grab this right from the parents because it comes from God, the origin of all rights and authority.   In other words parents have an innate right to command their children, oblige their children, instruct their children on how they are to conduct themselves.

I do not want to go to bed now!
3.    OBEDIENCE. Parents have a right to command their children to carry out actions and orders.  Disobedience wreaks havoc in the world but starting with disobedience in the family. There is a story of a father with his two sons who worked on a ranch on a farm where there were certain dangers. One common danger was the presence of dangerous killer-bears.  On one occasion the father strictly ordered the sons a simple command. It was to go on their horses around the hill and not over the hill. The sons drove the horses—in strict obedience—around the hill.  Great choice in obedience! Why?  Because right over the top of the hill—where the father commanded his sons not to go—there was waiting a huge, angry, hungry and ravenous bear ready to attack, kill and devour whoever came his way! This story says a million!  How many children, teens and young adults simply dismiss the advice and commands of their parents at will? How many decide to do their own will rather than the will of God that is clearly expressed through the fourth Commandment: “Honor your father and your mother.”

4.    IMMEDIATE OBEDIENCE. One of the most frustrating occurrences in the lives of many parents is what we might term “delayed obedience” on the part of their children. Examples are countless! Take out the trash! Make your bed! Turn off the T.V.! Get up for school!  Parents can recall hundreds of other commands of such nature!   What is the response of all too many children to this command?  “Yes, Mom, but wait a little!”  As simple and easy as the command may be, all too many children discard this as almost insignificant! This causes in the hearts of Moms frustration, anger, forced to repeat herself numerous times and terminating in exploding into yelling!

I have a right to these cookies!
5.    OBEDIENCE WITHOUT QUESTIONING.  I remember once as a child I was commanded to do something that, according to my limited intelligence, did not to seem very logical.  Therefore, I asked my Father why I had to carry out that order. I remember very clearly his response.  He did not give me a long-winded philosophical explanation and treatise as to the rhyme and reason behind that order. Rather his response was:  “You will do it simply because I told you to do it!” Bingo!  With respect to obedience to a command, parents are not always morally obliged to give their children an intricate explanation for all of their commands. Rather, children should obey their parents promptly, immediately, joyfully and effectively.  Remember the old saying: “If a job is worth doing then it is worth doing well.”

In all of this the best example we have is Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus obeyed His earthly parents—St. Joseph and Mary. Even more he obeyed His eternal Father in allowing Himself to be crucified for love of you and me. As the Apostle Paul asserts: “He was obedient even to death and death on the cross.”

Therefore, let us renew our efforts as parents to love our children to the max and manifest this love by exercising the God-given authority to teach, govern, command and order the children for the good of their souls, the future of society and the salvation of the world!