Honor Thy Mother and Father – until when? 

I’m all for respecting each other, and your parents – being the ones who fed and clothed you when you were little –  deserve some acknowledgement, not to mention TLC in their old age. But what if they didn’t? What if they left you to your own devices? What if they behaved like Cinderella’s step-mother, or the biological mother in Good Night Mr. Tom, one of my favorite childhood books (ok, there were too many to choose from). What if those parents were abusive, put you in danger?

A decent person would of course say, they’re your parents, it’s your moral duty. And if you are intent on taking the high road, you should look past any abuse and be there for them.

But what if this selfless act put you in danger? What if your parents are horrible people and always were? Or, let’s say there’s only one parent. What if that parent were to be a narcissist, manipulative, bigoted, hurtful, vindictive? And what if you were afflicted with a condition / disease that could be adversely affected by their behavior? If you had a weak heart for instance? Or high blood pressure? Recently, I came across articles staying that some parents didn’t acknowledge their grandchildren’s allergies and gave them the very foods the children were allergic to, because “what could possibly happen?”

Are you then really obliged to put yourself (and your children) at risk just because society dictates that you need to take care of your parent? Are you really supposed to give yourself up for them, hoping against hope that your blood pressure won’t rise and kill you this time when they use racial slurs for the umpteenth time?  Risking your health in the process? Do you really have to expose yourself to the constant barrage of, “how did you get this? Is it contagious? What can you do against it?” Do you really have to put yourself through the constant oy veys that bemoan your condition, not to mention the ever present, “I don’t understand how you could have gotten this, no one in our family has ever had it?”

Where do you draw the line? For yourself vs. society’s expectations?


  1. Thought provoking. I am afraid my opinion on the issue was that of society’s…..take the moral high ground.
    But this piece makes me question this. I guess for now I’ll say I don’t know. I am still more inclined to say care for and love them despite all…..within reason of course….in a way that will bring no harm to you physically or psychologically.
    I suppose this is similar to deciding whether to love a child or not against all odds. Most parents tend to, no matter how evil that child is…..can the same not apply to loving our parents? After all, without them as a bow, we would be an arrow never shot.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I totally agree. And the last part is beautiful and poetic. And moral high ground, absolutely. But when it comes to doing harm to yourself and others? In that case I would advise to take a few steps back. If their comments don’t just get you angry, but raise your blood pressure to the point of having a stroke, and it could be avoided, then contact must be limited. Ditto with children.

      Of course, it’s easy to say this. Being in either situation must be next to impossible, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Self-defense is always legitimate. Whatever society’s expectations, we are not required by God to commit hari-kari in an effort to please our parents (or required to subject our children to the same dysfunction which scarred us). Protective limitations can and should be employed. Providing financial support to elderly parents is distinct from submitting any longer as an adult to their withering criticism. Even forgiveness does not require that we (or our children) be placed once again in a situation of danger. A grandchild, for example, should NEVER be left alone w/ the father who molested us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! To me it’s self-evident. It just baffles me how many parents don’t seem to care, either by bringing their kids to the very people who molested them, or by shrugging it off with the words, “we never had anything like that in our family.”

      Liked by 1 person

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