The Sweet Christian Bride

Honoring Your Parents

by admin on November 28, 2011 in Communication, Family with No Comments

Honoring your parents can be a tough commandment to fulfill when you are planning your wedding.  Sometimes that’s due to tragic parenting.  Other times that is due to a clashing of personalities and opinions throughout the planning.  Usually, there is also a component of the natural tug and pull of moving towards oneness with your fiancé; it’s the beginning of leaving your parents and cleaving to your husband.

I don’t pretend to know the dynamics of your relationship with your parents, so I don’t know how the details of that command apply to your situation.  Regardless, it is still important to God that you honor your parents.  Even if it is uncomfortable for you, honoring your parents brings glory to God.

There are weddings that don’t involve parents because of their toxic nature to the family: abuse, neglect, abandonment, etc.  In general, this is the safe and healthy decision.  Those whom I know in this situation attest that separating those parents from the wedding process was the best way to honor them, to serve their other family members, and to begin their marriage.

Sometimes it can be easier to examine someone else’s interactions with his or her parents in order to obtain a more objective perspective when you reflect on your own.  Below are real-life scenarios and corresponding questions that can help you to examine your own parent situation so that you can better honor them throughout your wedding experience.

1: A bride never invited her father to her wedding.  He had not been a part of her life, and she had never even considered him her father.

Some questions to pray about and seek counsel for:

If your parents do not fulfill the responsibilities of being parents, does God still call you to honor them?  Can safety trump the commandment to honor your parents or can it change the definition of what it means to honor them?  How do you honor parents who, even though you get along with individually, bring toxicity when they are in the presence of the corporate family?

2: A bride purposely excluded her parents from the planning process as much as possible because her parents brought out the worst in her.  She loved them and would have happy times with them, but she would frequently revert back to her old ways when she was with them.  This bride had overcome many unintentional lies of their parenting and had broken many bad habits picked up from their modeling, so to let them in to this special time of planning seemed a dangerous decision.  The bride wanted a happy day without stress, so minimizing contact with her parents during the wedding weekend would make this an easier goal to accomplish.  The weekend’s agenda and all of the wedding details unfolded for her parents at the same time as they unfolded for all of the guests.

Some questions to pray about and seek counsel for:

How much of your wedding is for your sake?  Are you responsible for including your parents even if they bring stress upon you?  Should you ask for their opinions on certain aspects of your wedding?  If they are contributing financially to your wedding, can you accept their gift to you if you don’t want to accept the strings that come attached to that gift?  If you have irritations that flare up in the presence of your parents, what portion of that is your sin?  Is there a healthy way to create boundaries?

3: A groom grappled with the decision to obey his parents’ wishes or to do what he wanted to do.  His parents were richly steeped in their native country’s culture and wanted their son’s wedding to be reflective of that heritage.  The son, however, who had grown up in America from birth, had minimal identity ties to that country.  He wanted his wedding to be in his personality because it was a celebration of whom God had grown him up to be (equally so for his wife).  Ultimately, the wedding was done in the personality of the bride and groom rather than in the cultural tradition of their parents.

Some questions to pray about and seek counsel for:

If you and your parents starkly disagree, do you have to obey them to honor them?  Is there a way that good and gentle communication can bring honor into the process such that the outcome matters less?  When do you put your foot down and “side with” your fiancé over your parents?  Are there other aspects of the wedding in which you can apply your parents’ wishes if you are not able or willing to apply them in the ways that they want?

4: A groom had divorced parents who, at the time, were on hostile terms with each other.  They used their sway over their son as leverage against each other.  The groom was caught up in their conflict.  He and his wife decided to wash their hands of that conflict, plan the wedding the way they wanted, and deal with the flack that came with this decision.

Some questions to pray about and seek counsel for:

If your parents are involving you in their sinful behaviors, is the honoring thing to separate yourself from them or to engage?  When does your moral responsibility for righteousness trump your responsibility to obey your parents if they are acting sinfully?  Is there ever a time in life when obeying your parents is no longer requisite to honoring them?  Is it your action that communicates honor to your parents or is it your intention?

5: A bride and groom, both who loved their parents, were so busy planning their wedding that there wasn’t much time to communicate the plans to their parents.  There was no attitude of dishonor in their hearts, but the parents experienced the snub of poor communication.  They felt left out.  The bride and groom wanted to manage the details on their own and keep the stress off their parents’ shoulders, but in taking all responsibilities off the parents, they also removed opportunity for the parents to voice their celebration for their children.

Some questions to pray about and seek counsel for:

If you need to function in a way that minimizes your stress, should you adjust that if your methods cause stress for other people?  Are there parts of your wedding that warrant other people’s voices over your own?  Even if you have no intention of dishonoring your parents, are your methods and decisions allowing r0om to actively honor them?

6: A bride’s parents championed their responsibility to plan their daughter’s wedding.  While they blessed their daughter with a truly spectacular wedding, they controlled so much of the process and result that the groom’s parents (and even the bride and groom at times) were left out.

Some questions to pray about and seek counsel for:

If you see your parents dishonoring your fiancé or his parents, how do you honor your parents while addressing their hurtful actions?  If your parents think they are acting in your best interest, but you can see that they are more accurately acting in their own best interest, what is your place in confronting them?  When do you know whether to stay silent and pray or to speak up and engage?  Whose parents are you responsible for honoring?  What do you do if your parents and your fiancé are pulling you in two different directions?

There are countless scenarios, but hopefully those resonated with your situation to some degree.     It’s important to tackle these questions before you are put in a position to have to answer them with your actions.  Boundaries for a couple are vital to their cleaving; on the other hand, boundaries can cause deep hurt in those who are kept out.  Causing hurt does not inherently mean that you are dishonoring someone, but bitterness or pride in your heart does.

Wedding hurts are sadly not uncommon in parents of the bride and groom.  Keep in mind that this is a time of transition for them, often a time of grieving tangled in a time of celebration.  Emotions run high during weddings.  A lot of this will have nothing to do with you, but be sensitive because even your good intentions, especially if not communicated well, can trigger emotions in your parents that you would never have imagined.

Clear communication, prayerful hearts, and selfless perspectives greatly help to keep your intentions above reproach such that if hurt arises, you can address it gently without shouldering the onus of having dishonored someone.  Hurting parents does not necessarily mean dishonored parents.  Where their hurt comes from and how it is dealt with are two opportunities for you to honor them, even in their hurt.

I don’t know the answers to any of the above questions.  They aren’t black and white, and in seeking answers to them, you might instead come up with more questions.  That’s okay.  Approaching your wedding with a desire to honor your parents and with an awareness of what emotions might arise will go along way in honoring your parents, even if you aren’t sure what to do or not do.

By Lindsay

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