by Danny Tariman
“Honor your father and mother…” (This is a very important commandment with a promise.) so that it may go well for you, and that you may have a long life on the earth.” (Eph 6:2,3)
“My parents are old. They are both over 90 years old. I wanted to honor them by regularly having lunch or dinner with them, with my own family, on Sundays.” A friend was sharing to me his situation over the phone.
I admire the man. Despite his hectic schedule as a businessman, he is able to arrange a time during the week to be with his aging parents. This should always be the case for all of us.
For some people, however, there is a certain level of neglect when the parents enter their old age and is no longer ‘of help’ them. The elderly are considered outcasts, and a burden to carry on their shoulders. But not this man. He really loves his elderly parents and would like to show his love and respect by visiting them, with his family in tow, at least once a week and eating with them.
I am sure, the promise of the LORD will hold true for him for honoring his elderly parents: “that it may go well for you, and that you may have a long life on the earth” (Ephesians 6:3)
But he called me for a reason. He and his wife are battling for time – visitation time for their respective parents.
The wife appears to want more visitation days to her (former) family, while he want an equal time time on weekends to join both their parents. – that is, they will visit them and have lunch with them on alternating Sundays. I say ‘former family’ because they have their own start-up family now.
So what do we do?
First, I believe this can be settled with respect for each other, through a dialogue. While both wanted to honor and show their love for their respective parents, both should agree on a mutually acceptable visitation time that will work for them, And let there be no strife, rather an atmosphere of understanding and mutual respect.
This verse from Ephesians 5:33 should guide us – “Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
Second, I believe there should be a balance. Galatians 6:10 say “whenever we have the opportunity, let’s practice doing good to everyone, especially to the family of faith”. It says doing good to everyone. This means to me that both parents should be visited with the same frequency. However if both are expecting you to be present for lunch on Sundays, it presents a problem.
I suggest that you do it every other Sunday for lunch with each set of parents – alternating. And on Sundays that you can’t have lunch with them, visit them just the same beyond the lunch meal, and spend time with them. The important thing is you had visited them and had shown respect for the elderly. But you and your spouse should agree on a mutually acceptable schedule.
I pray that the Lord will guide you and grant you grace. May the Lord prosper your relationships!