Monday, April 01, 2019

Adult Children, pt. 1

I lived with my parents.  After around a thirty-eight year break, my parents now live with me as of August 2018.  I had to make a decision for them to live with my wife and I and our two daughters, and they agreed.  They knew it was best. My mom could probably make it on her own, even though both she and my dad have type 2 diabetes, but he also has alzheimers.  During our entire lives, my parents and I have had a very good relationship.  Since they moved in with us, even though my dad has regressed and will continue to do so, their health has improved and my mom's drastically.  Almost every number is better, my dad no longer wasting, gaining weight, and my mom losing a lot with a healthy diet.

When I was twenty-seven years old, my parents were living and working in Arizona, and I asked my dad to come and be principal of our school.  It helped us to have him, but I also viewed that decision as my supporting my parents.  It was the best they had ever done financially and secure.  My mom also worked at our school doing things she would not have done otherwise.  They could come and I wanted it because my parents and I were walking together in agreement based upon the Word of God.  They have since been members of my church for over thirty years.  Every Sunday morning right now, I take my parents in their car to pick up a blind man for church services, and we're the first to arrive every week to open the church building.

My parents never said to me as I grew up, keep a good relationship with us, son.  I heard preaching on that, what the Bible required of me.  Love your parents.  Obey them.  Honor them.  Tell them you love them.  I knew the ten commandments.  I knew Ephesians 6:1-3.  It never occurred to me to be a rebellious son.  I felt guilty anytime I dishonored my parents.  This related to God.  I wasn't pleasing God if I didn't esteem my parents.  I would have thought and still think that you can't be a rebellious son and also be right with God.  My relationship with God ties into my relationship with my parents, and that is my responsibility, not my parents.  I've got to keep it right with my parents -- not leave that up to them.

My dad was a firm disciplinarian in our home.  That's very often how homes were in the Midwest in that era.  Your parents told you what to do.  You did it.  You did it right away.  You did it with a good attitude. If you didn't, you received physical discipline.  In addition to the corporeal punishment, many times my dad yelled at me, too many to count.  It was normal for him to yell at me -- not all the time, but not unusual.  A particular type of instance of his yelling at me was when I walked and he wanted me to run.

When falling asleep in church, next to my dad, and I got pinched hard on the leg.  I never viewed both physical punishment or yelling as abusive.  Both of those are justified by scripture.  I never ever felt abused.  I believed the Bible taught it and when I got it, I deserved it, and usually deserved worse than what I actually received.  I knew my parents loved me and in part, because of the discipline they gave me.

I was afraid of my dad, afraid of getting in trouble for doing something wrong.  That resulted in my doing less wrong than what I would have done.  It spared me from doing more wrong.  The fear of my dad then translated into a fear of God.  Fear of dad preceded fear of God.  That's the way it works with parents and it is what the Bible teaches.  I've never felt resentment for how they treated me, which I think is the result of biblical expectations.  Later, I want to address the resentment of adult children, because of childhood discipline, perceived as mistreatment.

Fearing my dad didn't mean that he didn't love me.  Those two don't contradict each other.  Fearing God doesn't mean we don't love God.  We can't love God and not fear Him.  It wouldn't have occurred to me that fearing my dad was not congruent with love and a relationship.  I worked on the car with my dad.  While under the car, he told me to hand him a tool.  If I didn't quickly enough, he might raise his voice, which motivated me to get the tool to him faster, which was better.  I can understand what he was doing.  I did much better work, because I had some fear, and this is what the Bible itself says that is a good quality of an employee, to function with fear.  It lead to future fear when I worked as an employee, to please my boss.

If you are an adult child, you still have responsibility to your parents.  There are examples of and teaching on this in scripture from Genesis to Revelation.  The Bible also warns about violating these examples and this teaching.  Paul in 2 Timothy 3:2 says that in the last days men shall be disobedient to their parents.  In Romans 1 Paul explains reprobates as "disobedient to parents."  God's Word is replete with teaching about responsibility of children to parents.  One of the ten commandments is "honor thy father and thy mother."  There isn't one about parents to children.  There is no, "honor thy children."  1 Timothy 5:1 says, "Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father," but nowhere says, "rebuke not a son, but intreat him."  Parents should be open to that verse if it existed.  It doesn't.  Parents should not be held hostage to children who want the roles reversed.

Parents should do everything they are supposed to and can do while their children are at home.  They should do the same regarding the transition to the next phase of life, which might be college time or the time between 12th grade and marriage.  Whether because of something occurring from childhood or college or early adult life, however, an adult child turns away from the belief and practice of his childhood.  He or she seems to depart from the way his parents trained him.  What does a parent do with an adult child, who is like that?  Does he just leave him alone, wait to see what happens?

More to Come


Bill Hardecker said...

That's a great testimony to share with loads of Scriptural exhortations. Looking forward to the rest of the article.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Bill.

DLF said...

Thanks Kent for a great article and speaking so highly of your parents. I have great memories of the years I served along side of your dad in Watertown, WI. He was a fellow teacher, my assistant basketball coach, and a friend. We often ate lunch together with Rich Akins and got to laughing so hard we could hardly eat our food. His down home stories of life in Indiana were great. I thank the Lord for having the privilege of knowing him and working with him. Thank you for caring for your parents. It is a great testimony.

Darrel Flaming

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Bro Flaming. I have fond memories of those days too.