Adult Children and Parents

When we become adults, honoring our parents takes on added meaning and blessings.

Note: This article is not addressing children who have been physically or sexually abused by parents. They must seek godly Christian counsel in handling their relationship with their parents.

God cares how we, as adults, treat our parents.

Ephesians 6: 2-3 says:

“Honor (esteem and value as precious) your father and your mother; this is the first commandment with a promise: That all may be well with you…” (Amplified Bible)

It's not an age-specific command: We never get too old to obey this command to honor our parents.

When we become adults, honoring our parents takes on added meaning and blessings.
And God emphasizes the Command  in some unique ways: 
  • It's the 5th Commandment
  • It’s the only command with a specific promise attached. 
  • It's one of the three most quoted Commandments in the New Testament.
Parents form our first relationship in life and one of our longest.  Just as children are especially vulnerable to their parents’ injustice, indifference or selfishness when they are young; parents are especially vulnerable to the injustice, indifference and selfishness of their adult children. God designed us that way, and He has high expectations for the relationship throughout our lives.

Unfortunately, we are more likely to criticize than honor parents, judging them more strictly than we judge ourselves. Often we talk about parents needing to earn our respect but we expect them to love us no matter how we behave.

Do you understand the blessings, rewards, and responsibilities of honoring your parents after you become an adult?
In Matthew 15:1-9 Christ uses adults who ignore the Fifth Commandment as an example of those with false hearts.

For many years I underestimated the Fifth Commandment. Only as I changed my attitudes did I realize the well-being and relationships I'd been missing (God's promise).

I studied the Hebrew word used for honor in the Fifth Commandment and found it's the same word used for honoring God.

That means:
  • I speak and listen to them with patience and respect.
  • I deliberately take initiative and responsibility in maintaining and developing our relationship.
  • I'm interested in their lives and interested in pleasing them
  • I work on my attitude toward them as well as my actions
  • I do my very best to work through problems. In fact, honor is best reflected when it is tested.
The Fifth Commandment is an awesome responsibility which involves diligence and self-sacrifice, but God is eager to help us fulfill it and has promised to bless us if we obey. 

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Do you understand the blessings, rewards, and responsibilities of honoring your parents after you become an adult?


  1. "It's not an age-specific command: We never get too old to obey."- I absolutly love this! Keep teaching the truth!! :)

  2. Love, love! Wish I could go back... only one parent left. 😕

    1. I also wish I could do things differently. My mother and I had a good relationship, but I didn't really understand these principles when she was still alive. There are lots of ways I could have honored her that I didn't. But I'm grateful that when I learned some of these principles my father was still alive and I was able to apply them to our relationship before he passed away.

      I'm so glad God gives us those opportunities.
      God bless you.

  3. What about when your parents are abusive? Verbally and mentally? When is enough is enough? This is what I am struggling with. My mother disowned me 7 years ago because my opinion differed from hers. I separated myself from my father and step mother 2 years ago after 35 years of mental abuse. I could not take it anymore. But as a Christian, how is it I am supposed to honor these people who just want nothing to do with me? My father and stepmother couldn't handle me being a Christian. Didn't like me raising my children this way. On top of a lot of other things. I tried for a LONG time to hide who I was from them. To try to fit in. I couldn't do it anymore. It was just too much! I am happier now than I have ever been. But I still get that nagging feeling that I am not following one of the most important commandments. And yet, I pray that God has my back in this instance.

    1. Hi Unknown,
      I encourage you to ask God to help you figure out how you can honor such difficult parents. He never asks us to do anything that He will not give us the power and wisdom to do.
      God bless you.

  4. How do you handle the relationship when the parent purposefully causes chaos, destruction, and exhibits attention-seeking behaviors to win people over, while accusing their adult child of things that didn't happen in order to keep other family members on their "side"...? It's not happening to just one of their adult children, but all of them. The parent referred to uses grandchildren as pawns by lying to them, encouraging them to lie and keep secrets, bribes and manipulates, and even uses the Bible throughout these behaviors to validate herself as victim. Any advice would be appreciated :)

    1. Hi Kathy,
      I'm sorry you are having to deal with this situation.
      I don't have the answer to your question, but I know the Lord can guide you. He asks us to honor our parents and He knows when a parent is difficult. He is a creative God who can give you creative ways to obey His commands.
      And as I write this, I pray that God will give you wisdom and that hearts will change so your family can find peace and joy in relationship with each other.