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Respecting Old Parents (part 12 of 12)


Even if it is a small segment, we cannot but admire children who treat their old parents with deep reverence and love.

Of course, there is the flip side, of coping with demanding old parents, who are critical, petty and irritable. Even they, who deserve love the least, need it the most. In dealing with them, difficult truth needs to be wrapped in love. Blessed are the children who realise that.

What do old parents expect from their grown children? Not expensive gifts, exotic food, luxuries or big sums of money to spend. But caring, expressed through empathy and protection. Not ascribing motives to what they say and do; realising that their years of caring for children have not ended, but matured through hard won experience. If only we listened with our hearts, and lifted them out of their sadness on wings of love!

The Hebrew version of the commandment on parents read: “Honour thy father and thy mother, in order that thy days may be prolonged upon the land which the Lord, thy God, giveth thee”. Since we know the other commandments, we cannot but notice that only this commandment carries a promise. The others just state the commandment. Would that be persuasion enough for us to treat our old parents with love and respect? Would our children learn from our example and care for us when we are old and feeble?

To conclude this series on Parenting, let us return to some of the key points. EXAMPLE is at the top of the list, not only because it is powerful in itself, but also because it doubles for PARENTAL INSTRUCTIONS. Children learn more from seeing than from hearing. Besides, Example lends special meaning to DISCIPLINE. A child disciplined by a parent whose example cannot be faulted knows that his defence against disciplining is porous. We also touched on a few facets of Parental Instructions.

A .J Cronin, in his book, Adventures in Two Worlds, extols the virtues of a nurse, who through selfless service gained the respect of her patients. But he mourns the fact that she is underpaid, though her services are worth much more. Her response spoke of her purpose in life: “If God knows I’m worth it, that’s all that matters to me”. If we, as parents, can say that, we would have travelled well on our parenting journey.

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