I never know what to get my parents. My dad owns three of every Craftsman tool ever made. My mom collects teapots and, as Brother Bowman would say, already "has more than she can say, ‘Grace’ over." But still I press on to try to find a present that matches my love and admiration for them.
The truth is, you can never repay your parents for what they have given you. Nothing will balance the ledger for all the dirty diapers they changed, the times you woke them up in the middle of the night when you were scared, or the hours they stayed up waiting for you to come home. No gift can come close to the amount of effort, tears, money, and sacrifices they have invested in you. Does that mean you shouldn’t give them anything at all?
Hardly. You can give your parents something more valuable than anything bought in a store or wrapped under a tree. And it will make their jobs a whole lot easier.
Give them your respect. "Honor your father and mother" was not only one of the Ten Commandments given to Israel (Ex. 20:12), it was the first among the laws that dealt with their relationship with their fellow man (commandments 5-10). Does that give any indication of its importance in the eyes of God? This is further seen in the punishment for those who spoke evil of their parents – death (Ex. 21:17; Matt. 15:4)! I’m ashamed to say that I would not have been around to write this article if that law was still on the books.
Reverence is something that is not often given in a culture that attempts to put everyone on an equal level. "Yes, sir" and "no, ma’am" have been replaced with "yeah" and "what?" But your parents are not your older friends; they have a God-given authority over you. That means you respect them with your words and with your attitude. For "the eye that mocks a father, and scorns a mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it" (Prov. 30:17). Certainly food for thought.
Give them your obedience. Sometimes young people have the idea that "the Bible just doesn’t say anything to me." How about this? "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" (Eph. 6:1). In a discussion about the roles in the home and the success of the family, Paul wrote that obedience to parents is the function of the children. It is just as important as husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church and wives being submissive to their husbands as to the Lord. When you don’t obey your parents and do your part, the whole household suffers.
Just because you sit down at the table and food is brought to you doesn’t mean that you’re the king of the castle. Just because you are given transportation from school to practice to rehearsals to games does not argue that the home revolves around you. Your role is obedience. Why? "For this is well pleasing to the Lord" (Col. 3:20). When you obey your parents and make them proud, you please the Lord who gave them to you. When you listen to your mother and father on the earth, you are more likely to grow up and submit to the authority of your Father who is in heaven. Practice makes perfect.
Give them your understanding. Your father is charged with bringing up his children "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4). Your mother is told to love her children (Tit. 2:4). One day, they will stand before God to give an account for how they have fulfilled these duties. And they have such a small window of time in which you live in their house and under their example and influence. Give them your appreciating of the serious task before them.
Believe it or not, your parents used to be your age. Don’t push them away as someone you think doesn’t understand what it’s like to be a teenager. Lean on their wisdom and learn to appreciate their advice.
Believe it or not, your parents want what’s best for you. Their sole mission in life is not to make yours miserable. They just want to help you make wise decisions. If keeping you away from certain activities is going to help keep your soul out of hell, trust them. They not only want what’s best, they know what’s best.
Believe it or not, your parents love you. Even when they discipline you, it is an extension of that love (Heb. 12:6; Prov. 13:24). Don’t just assume they know that you love them. Tell them. It’ll show them what a gift they are in your life.