“Ask a Priest: How Can I Learn to Treat My Parents Better?”

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Q: I am 16 and I struggle with the idea of “honoring thy father and thy mother.” What happens is, something happens and I get mad at them in the heat of the moment and typically end up saying something mean about them behind their back. And then two minutes later I regret saying something mean about them. I know this isn’t a good thing and I would like to stop. Is there anything you could help me with to think before I speak and not say something mean, as I know it is a sin. – E.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: If you struggle with something, that means it is an opportunity for you to grow and to master your passions.

As you mention, you respond impulsively and then regret it minutes later. That is a sure sign that you want to focus on the problem here: It’s not your parents but rather you and your emotions.

You might want to give priority to learning to manage your emotions. Adulthood requires that we are in control of ourselves.

When it comes to honoring one’s parents, there is much more involved than just managing one’s emotions.

It helps to cultivate a deep spirit of gratitude toward them and for everything they have done for you. They brought you into the world, took care of you when you were in diapers, made sure you were fed and housed and protected. They loved you from the time you were in the womb. They are special conduits of God’s love. You owe them a lot.

It might help to recall, too, that a lot of your contemporaries don’t even have parents or stable families. What you have is no small gift from God.

To cultivate respect for your parents, it might help to cultivate a day-to-day spirit of charity. Thank them for the little things and big things they do for you. Actively look to help them — don’t wait for them to have to ask you to do things. And be sure to pray for them daily.

All this is remote preparation for learning to curb your fiery side.

A real man looks out for others. You want to be that kind of man, right?

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