The principle articulated in the fifth commandment is to honor and respect parents, not to obey them blindly when their advice contravenes some established principle of faith and conduct. The burden of proof should fall on children who choose to avoid parent’s directives. In no case is disrespect warranted.

Parents are imperfect, however, and sometimes downright wrong. The child of an alcoholic is not obliged to follow such a parent’s wisdom or to participate in or condone the fits of rage that accompany alcoholism. Still, the impetus of the fifth commandment requires as much loyalty as possible, as much submission as is appropriate to the child’s own personhood and growth. As children mature, they assume leadership, even at times “parenting” their aged parents who need care. Still, the commandment requires respect and esteem for one’s parents, age notwithstanding.

In the rare case when a child must side with law enforcement or spiritual elders in dealing with a wayward parent, still the child’s attitude should exhibit compassionate care, not hatred or vengeance.

EXODUS 20:12- 12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

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