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How can I honor my father when hes hurt me emotionally again and again.


Part 1: My father is an alcoholic and is addicted to prescription pills. I want to forgive him, but hes hurt me emotionally again and again. How can I honor him, like the fifth Commandment says, if hes hardly ever sober?Hurt Daugher, 15, CA

Shayna Answers:

Dear Hurt Daughter,

A few weeks ago, we dealt with what to do when one of your parents’  behavior is damaging your family. We talked about the importance of having a forgiving spirit, and what you can do to help your family stay together.

In your case, your father may need professional medical assistance for his problem, since it sounds like he’s unable to control his destructive behavior. But first, ask your mother for help.

It’s important to communicate to your mother how your father’s behavior is emotionally affecting you. Chances are, she’s struggling with the situation too.

As you talk to her, hopefully you and she (and your siblings) will be able to make a plan of action as a family. Include your dad in the conversation that you have, if you’re able to.

If he’s not sober, try writing him a letter, expressing specifically how his behavior is affecting you. You might write something such as, “When you yell at me or ignore me when you’re drunk, it hurts me. I miss having you as a part of my life, and I want you to be healthy.”

As you write, be honest but be respectful. Depending on how your mother reacts to the situation, she may choose to intervene by forcing your father to get treatment, or by removing you from the situation. This may mean separating from your father for a while.

If your father’s alcohol and drug abuse are hurting you or putting you in danger, the best way to honor him, as you are instructed to do in Exodus 20:12, is to do what is most healthy and beneficial for you, which is to get out of the situation. Honoring your father doesn’t mean condoning bad behavior or staying in an abusive situation.

Ephesians 6:1 says you are to “obey your parents in the Lord.” In other words, we are to honor them in ways that uplift them spiritually while maintaining obedience toward God. Encouraging your father to continue hurting himself or destroying your family does neither.

If you aren’t able to get help from your mother and you are in danger, you need to immediately tell a pastor, teacher, or guidance counselor. They will probably be able to gauge the situation and speak on your behalf. If you’re in danger, they will also be able to provide appropriate resources. In a worst-case scenario, you and your siblings may be temporarily removed from your parents’ home until your dad gets better.

The most important thing you can do is to pray continually for the Holy Spirit to intercede in your situation. Romans 8:26, 27 promises that He will. If you want, you can also ask your friends in your Sabbath school class to pray with you. Choose a specific time of the week when all of you will pray that something will change in your home, even if you aren’t all together.

It’s understandable that your father’s behavior has hurt you. Keep in mind that things won’t get immediately better. Next week we’ll talk about some things you can do to start healing your relationship with your father.

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