We have all heard the Bible verse “Honour your Father and Mother so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord thy God has given you.” In the same way, the honour we show our parent, I believe, can actually lengthen the days that God has given them. When we create a culture of honour for our parent, that tells them how much we love them. How much we respect them. Even if our parent may have hurt us in some way in the past, it’s important to give them honor as they move into the challenges they face. They may be facing an illness. They don’t need your pity. They need your honor. Take a look at how Wikipedia describes honour and how it can be given – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honour. I believe this is especially true when a parent is especially elderly and may have dementia. We may tend to go around them. We may talk about them right in front of them thinking it will not matter. It matters. Even when they are at their worst and you really do not think they know the difference, honour matters. You are showing the rest of your family how to treat Mom or Grandma. Your children are watching. Imagine them learning how to treat you with honour one day.
Your parent is not defined by a diagnosis. They are who they have always been. Don’t look at them and treat them with the disease first. Do not put the disease above who they are as a person and as that person who raised you, loved you, and prayed for you. Who you are largely is because of the sacrifices and love your parent gave you throughout your life. Our respect is powerful and has the ability to be very healing. Healing in such a way to mend past wrongs, healing in such a way to create a bridge of understanding, and healing in such a way to give and receive forgiveness. And, I dare say, if you are praying for healing, this treatment of honour and respect is directly proportional to the healing God will pour out on your parent. You have to show honour so that God can release His healing power.
This happened for me in my own life when my Father was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). My Father and I were not on the best of terms. There had been a lot of water under the bridge. But, when it came time for my Dad to get help, it felt good to step into it with a sense of respect and honour. I cared for him in my home but eventually he needed to move to my nursing home I operated. There I still remained in that spirit of honour. It gave us all as a family peace. We respected his decisions. He had decided not to have a feeding tube and no heroic measures when he was first diagnosed. But, towards the end, he changed his mind and wanted a feeding tube when he could no longer swallow. ALS causes your muscles to waste away and lose function. I honoured his decision and he had a feeding tube inserted. It was his life. It was not mine. It was important for him to still have some control and make decisions about his own life. The honour continued.
Be sure as you travel a road with your parent to give them honour. Don’t fight against them. Don’t belittle them. Do not ignore them. Choose your battles. Arguing with your parent about little things that do not matter is not helping them or you. God will reward you and when your time comes with your children, not only will they have had an example set by you showing them how to treat you, but God will pay you back for the honour you showed your parent. One day, when Mom is gone, you’ll look back and you will be so glad you treated her with honour.