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Honor My Mother?!

Honor My Mother?!

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Question:

I know that the Ten Commandments require us to respect our parents. But not all parents are worthy of respect. I am disgusted by the things my mother has done. She is old now and needs me, but there is nothing in her life that deserves respect. How can I respect my mother without losing my dignity?

Answer:

Respecting your mother doesn't mean that you think she is all good. But surely she can't be all bad. Surely you can think of some redeeming feature, something good your mother has done. There must be something for which you can say that she is a worthwhile person. Can't you think of one good thing she has achieved?

I can. You.

Respect for parents is a base for self-respect

Like it or not, you are a product of your parents. No matter how different you are from them, no matter how far you go to avoid repeating their mistakes, you will never be able to change the simple fact that they are your parents. Whether they were good parents or horrible parents, whether they built you up or put you down, they are where you come from.

Your mother brought you into the world. If you honestly think your mother is all bad, without a good bone in her body, then on some level you will see yourself as another one of her failures. Your existence stems from her. Respect for parents is a base for self-respect.

The fact that she mothered a child who has a clear sense of right and wrong, and is aware of her wrongdoing, means she must not be all bad. She may not get the credit for your moral sensitivity, but she does get some credit for your existence. If nothing else, you can at least respect her for that. Far from compromising your dignity, respecting your mother forms the basis for your dignity, because she, along with your father and G-d, was a partner in your birth.

Respect does not mean accepting her failings or excusing her misdeeds. It means that if your mother needs help, you should be there for her. When she speaks, you need not agree, but you must listen respectfully. You have to treat her as a mother. Failing that, your self-respect has shaky foundations.

You don't have to respect the life your mother has led. But, for your own sake, you do have to respect that she is your mother.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
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Discussion (66)
September 29, 2014
My Mother
I always loved my mother. She was my mother -my best friend - my advisor - my conscious - my teacher - and my mentor. My mother always stood up for me - no matter what ! And I am the same with my child . My child deserves this - it is my child ' s right .
Anonymous
toronto
June 1, 2014
Honoring My Mother
When I was young, I despised my mother but as I grew older I began to respect her. I didn't find her an all around good mother but she did have redeeming qualities and tried her best with what she knew. In the end my mother won over my respect and I can say today that in spite of all the ups and downs, I love my mother.
Anonymous
February 3, 2014
Parents
Forgiveness is a Gift U give To Youself!!!!!!
I pardon others in order to be able to be pardoned myself
Anonymous
jewishbrandon.com
February 2, 2014
Mothers have a power position and a lot of them abuse their power.
Anonymous
earth
September 10, 2013
Does the Commandment apply to the children of monsters.
On this issue - Today there is an article in the Times of London on a book written about the daughter ( now 80 ) of Hoss the Auschwitz Commandant who lived with his family in a luxury villa overlooking the concentration camp
She lives in N Virginia. and worked for a time in a Jewish owned fashion shop. She denies the number of Jews admitted by her father as having being murdered under his command and sleeps with his portrait over her bed.
Aubrey J
August 30, 2013
Clueless Aron Moss
Obviously, you are not subject to abuse. Please rephrase your response knowing that the same mother that you think deserves respect at any cost b/c that's your mother has been putting cigarettes out on your arm for 10 years. Now what do you think? Respect at any cost?
Liz Edelstein, abused adult daughter of a narcissistic mother
Reisterstown, MD
May 27, 2012
Wicked parents
A recent TV doc looked at the children and grandchildren of Nazi leaders.
Only the son of Frank the butcher of Poland
said that for 30 years he had researched and written about his father- hoping to find a tiny spark of goodness in him - he failed

Does the Commandment apply to the children of monsters. Surely not
Aubrey J
London, uk
March 25, 2012
Reading your troubles my first expr was "Oh my ...!" Your stories does not hide away any imperfection!

The Bible does not hide away imperfection either. Ex: All the early leaders of the people did not behave just and good (See "jugdes").

Me thinking: If the bible had told that all the jewish leaders were perfect, would we have believed in it? And if we had believed that, would we then have worshipped the leaders instead of the One Creator?

Looks like some individuals get their lifes spes challenged under leaders/ parents that are no good. So what to do? Should you smash leaders false gods, but still be able to obey them in other areas of life? Or maybe keep distance, but support them materialisticly when become elderly? Personally in worst cases, I would have had to keep my distance, but tryed to force myself to thank G-d for them and bless them in my private prayers (until easy), from this I could be healed and by grace G-d might change the whole situation. Ezekiel 18:23
Anonymous
Oslo, norway
March 15, 2012
Judge not so that thou also shall not be judged
Children have no reason to judge the mistakes of their parents,; a mother who labored to care for them and support them, suffered for them and may have errored due to the cross of single parenthood. It is not ok for a daughter to go out and mess up her life and then create more problems for the mother. If that daughter thinks she is justified; she is in for a great and hard fall from her selfappointed position of judgment. G-d will judge the mother according to all of the mother's life circumstances and whether not she gave her life over to the Lord and made serious changes so as not to negatively affect the daughter. If the daughter wants to continue to hold a grudge out of her excuses to be in error herself or to do what she wants then use the mother as an excuse for her actions, then the daughter is in worse spiritual shape than the mother. It is also extremely sinful when the daughter provokes, defiles, or humiliates the mother. The daughter's "attitudes" are sinful and bad excuses
Rachel MakGlamrothe
pontre vedre, florida
November 4, 2011
It's not OK to call people names if you want to have a good relationship with them. Each individual is made in the image of G-d, and calling people names is diminishing them.

It seems like you are hurt at your daughter's distance. I imagine she is also hurt at being called a name. Judaism gives us a way to repair relationships with others, G-d, and ourselves- teshuva. It's not too late to begin to build a better relationship with your daughter.
Anonymous
Charlotte, North Carolina
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