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10 Ways to Honor Your Parents as Adult Children

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Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

Ephesians 6:1-3 (ESV)
image of senior parents with adult children with text 10 Ways to Honor Your Parents as Adult Children

Not sure how? Here are ten ways to honor your parents.

 10 Ways to Honor Your Parents

1. Be thankful for them and show your gratitude

When we enter this world from our mother’s wombs, we are pretty helpless. We haven’t learned yet to feed ourselves, walk, communicate or do any form of self-care (um, change our diapers!).

Our parents take on all of these responsibilities. We may drive them crazy as we grow up, but they continue to put clothes on our backs, provide food and run us from practice to youth group (if you were raised in a Christian home) and so much more. Even if your parents were (are) unbelievers, they have still raised us and deserve our gratitude.

To honor your parents begins by being thankful for them.

Almost daily, we see stories in the news of abusive parents or parents killing their children. If you still on this side of the earth, your parents did at least a few things right. Abuse is never OK and there will always be situations where adult children need to separate themselves from their parents, but even if gratitude feels impossible, as Christians we are to be thankful even in dark circumstances as God uses those circumstances for His good.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28 (ESV)

2. Communicate with them.

There are numerous verses in the Bible about communication and the importance of it in building relationships. God wants us to have deep relationships with others and your first relationships are the ones with the parents that He has placed in your life.

God chose your parents just for you and building (or mending) that relationship is important to Him.

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 

Psalm 139:13 (ESV)

To honor your parents, you need to talk to them. Ask about their day, how they are doing. Ask questions about when they were growing up. Learn about the milestones in their lives and what you have in common.

Often, weeks or even months go by without someone talking to their parents, but the Bible makes it clear that Christians are to handle this differently. In 1 Timothy 5:8, we read “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” To honor your parents, you need to talk with them. A visit, a phone call – no matter how busy you are. That visit or call may be the highlight of their week.

3. Talk to them and treat them with respect

In Ephesians 6:2 (“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—), the word for honor (τίμα) is translated to mean to determine the value of something. The value of our parents is incalculable. In this verse, Paul reminds us that the commandment is to honor our parents and to see them as valuable.

We are not honoring our parents if we are short with them, show irritation or use unkind words. How we talk to others is a reflection of how we feel about them. 

In Matthew 12:34, Jesus says “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”. To honor your parents, your words should honor them as well as your actions.

When I look back at some of the things that I said to my mother when I was a teenager, I cringe and ask God for forgiveness. Teenage girls can be volatile and wretched to their mothers. I know that, at time, I sure was. Thankfully, God put me on the right path as an adult and we enjoyed a strong relationship before she went into Our Father’s arms in 1999.

When we show resentment or frustration towards our parents, we are reflecting a heart that is not grateful. In addition, we are sinning by not giving our parents the position of authority and respect that God has ordained.

We need to treat them, in speech and deed, as some of the most important people on earth.

To dive deeper into Ephesians on a level you haven’t before with Kneel Before the Throne, Exploring Ephesians.

cover of Exploring Ephesians Bible study

4. Seek their advice and wisdom

“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,

    and forsake not your mother’s teaching,

for they are a graceful garland for your head

    and pendants for your neck.

Proverbs 1:8-9 (ESV)

In point two, above, we discussed the importance of talking to your parents. While you’re talking with them, ask for their advice. Not only will they be pleased that you trusting them to share their wisdom, but they will most likely give good advice. They watched you grow, nurtured you and probably know you in ways that no one else does.

It should go without saying, but if your parents are not believers, you should avoid asking them for spiritual advice.

5. Pray for them (and with them)

Another way to honor your parents is to pray for them. Pray for their health, relationships, vocation, if they are still working. Pray for their walk with God (or for their salvation if they are not believers).

Additionally, if you struggle with how to honor your parents, ask God to help you in this area.

As we go through the daily trials of life, we sometimes forget that our parents are going through difficulties, as well. There are financial struggles, health issues, friends and loved ones passing away and more. There is no end to the list of ways that we can pray for our parents. Praying for your parents is a way to honor your parents.

image of senior couple in garden with adult children for the post 10 Ways to Honor Your Parents as Adult Children

6. Encourage your parents

In the above section, we were reminded of how difficult aging can be. Encouraging your parents in their later years is a beautiful way to honor your parent.

If your parents are believers, encourage their walk with The Lord. Thank them for their Christian example. Nudge them towards becoming more involved in their church. (A great book on serving in our “golden years” is Aging Matters

Encourage them to share their wisdom or to disciple the younger men and women as they find more time on their hands during retirement.

In Hebrews 10:25, we read

“not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:25 (ESV)

While the verse does not specify if “the day” is the Lord’s return or their own death, Paul is reminding us that we need to encourage our elders and friends as time goes on.

If your parents do not have a relationship with our Savior, you should be encouraging them to repent and give their lives to Christ.

7. Forgive your parents

One of the most important ways that you can honor your parents is to forgive them.

Every parent makes mistakes in raising their children. I know that I have made my fair share of mistakes in raising my own children.

No parent is perfect. All have made poor decisions at one time or another or have said or done things which have hurt us. Let go of any bitterness or resentment and forgive them.

If you are unable to forgive, you (and your parents) are unable to move forward. You will be stuck in the mire of anger and resentment, which is unhealthy for both of you.

You can honor your parents by extending grace and forgiveness to them.

So much of how we deal with and honor our parents comes down to pride. We have seen the worst of them and have seen them sin towards others and towards us.The Bible, however, is very clear that the way we treat our parents has significant consequences, not only for our life on earth,but our spiritual life, as well.

8. Tell them the truth.

“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord,
    but those who act faithfully are his delight.”

Proverbs 12:22 (ESV)

Lying to one’s parents has been going on since Adam and Eve started a family. It’s both amazing and sad to know how many children lie to their parents. Perhaps because the children (even as adults) fear the consequences or perhaps they simply don’t want to disappoint their parents.

As uncomfortable as it may be to tell them the truth, it is extremely important that children never lie to their parents. Relationships cannot thrive if they are built on a bed of lies.

If you have lied to your parents confess the truth to them and ask them to forgive you. There are few things that can honor your parents more than telling them the truth.

9. Take care of your parents

In Mark 7:9-13 Jesus deals a strong rebuke of the Pharisees. He accuses them of using their religion as an excuse for not taking care of their parents. In fact Jesus will accuse them over and over of setting up a religion that hurts the elderly, especially widows.

Paul maintains that we are worse than an unbeliever when we do not take care of our parents.

Taking care of your parents can be as simple as driving or accompanying them to Dr. appointments or helping them pay their bills.

As our parents age, sadly there are those that look for every opportunity to take advantage of them. The Investigation Discovery channel has aired numerous programs on children stealing from or murdering their parents for money – and that’s just in the family!

The Bible calls for Christians to be set apart and to feel honored for the opportunity to care for our parents. We are called to show honor to them by helping them in their last days on earth

If you are currently helping your parents, know this: the Lord is pleased with you and you are a great example to those around you (especially YOUR children who one day may need to take care of you).

10. Talk Well of Them Publicly and Privately

Finally, you can honor your parents by how you speak of them privately and to others.

We can give such high regard in a one-on-one conversation or or in how we talk about our parents to others. Consider writing a formal tribute to your parents and read it aloud for them. Can you imagine the impact that would have on your parents? What greater joy could there be for a parent than to hear your gratitude and love?

How do you honor your parents? What would you add to this list? What areas do you need to work on to better honor your parents?

Looking for more resources to better honor your parents? Consider the recommended books below:

The Tribute and the Promise : How Honoring Your Parents Will Bring a Blessing to Your Life by Dennis Rainey and David Boehi

The Commandment We Forgot by Tim Challies

Because of Him,


Did you know that you are God’s precious little girl? That’s right! He loves and cherishes you. 

Did you miss Raising Godly Children in a Broken World?

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Monday 18th of December 2023

When we emulate someone, we imitate him or her because we admire their character quality such that we want to be like them. Paul repeatedly instructed new believers to imitate him as he imitated Christ (1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1; Philippians 3:17). Our goal as Christians is to emulate Jesus as He emulated the Father (John 5:19; 14:12). I love and honor my dad so much that I want to be like Him - adopt/imitate His character by being like Him....."he's just like his dad". Doesn't Abba Father mean "Daddy"? I'm surprised you didn't include that in your "10 Ways...". What better way to honor your parents and carry on their legacy than by being like them.

Susan Nelson

Sunday 24th of December 2023

Very good point! thank you for sharing that and stopping by!

Sondra Gunter

Thursday 18th of May 2023

I really loved your article, it touched quite a few issues you discussed because my children lied to me and did not admit it. I caught them lying and I didn't raise them like that. This truly hurt my feelings very badly! They still haven't admitted to lying to me which resulted in some very bad things that have happened. None of it would have happened had they not lied and just told me the truth. They none of the 3 of them have admitted their mistakes or taken responsibility for what has happened. I'm very upset because of the way they have handled the whole episode, and have not taken responsibility for what they have caused? I'm very proud of my children, and it hurts me deeply for their actions. I'm no different than anybody else, I make mistakes and have apologized for my a ctions. It has meant nothing to them. Some times I just want to go for a ride, or go somewhere and my answer is always no, or take the via van. All I wanted to do is spend time with them, but they are too busy for me. A hug or kiss would even be ,?great, but I don't even get that. What has happened to the way I raised you? No Lying, Cheating, or S? That's not how they learned when they were growing up. Sorry you touched a lot of nerves with your article. I loved your article, I really wish all my girls would read it. I can't suggest it to them. They would say I'm lying, or they don't time, or just ignore me. I just want my children to love and honor me like they used to when I was raising them. Thanks for the article, it was right on the subject, I have been faced with.


Tuesday 3rd of January 2023

This post was so helpful. I recently moved back home and a lot of old feelings of living with my mother are already coming up. I moved away a couple of years ago to take some time to live my own life and get away from it all and during that time my relationship with God grew deeper and I loved it! I've grown up in a Christian household by a single mom, my dad was always in and out. Though she's a Christian woman and has raised us up in the Lord, I have conflicting feelings on how much weight her words and opinion should have in my life. And I don't want to give up the freedom I had when I was living alone. However, I do truly love God and I know I'm supposed to honor her so this article was helpful in highlighting areas in my heart I need to work out with Him. So thank you.

Susan Nelson

Monday 9th of January 2023

I’m so glad to hear that my post blessed you! thank you for stopping by and have a blessed day! I'll be praying for your relationship with your mom and our Lord! Please keep me posted!

Cori Devine

Thursday 13th of October 2022

Sue Your insight was very helpful to me! I would like to print out your words without the ads in the middle. Is that possible? Thank you again! Regards Cori Devine

Susan Nelson

Thursday 3rd of November 2022

Hi Cori - thanks for stopping by and I'm so glad that you enjoyed the post. Unfortunately, short of copying and pasting to a new document, there's no way to directly download the post.

Lu Santana

Sunday 14th of November 2021

I'm having a difficult time forgiving my Mother. I know that I should because I also want to be forgiven and shown mercy, and I want to take care of my parents as Paul says because it is a commandment from God and I do want to please and obey Him. I have forgiven what has happened in the past, but in the present I feel a lot of hurt still on a daily basis from my Mother, and God has called me to pray, because I have tried to address my feelings but I cannot seem to make her understand, but God knows exactly how I'm feeling. I have tried using my own wisdom and strength, to no avail. Only God has the power to transform my home. But I found this article extremely enlightening, I have understood more about what I must do as a child, and my duties. Thank you

Susan Nelson

Monday 22nd of November 2021

Hi, Lu - I'm so glad that this post has blessed you. It is not always easy to honor our parents, but God can guide you. The Holy Spirit can give you His wisdom and strength. You don't need to rely on your own. I am praying for you.

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