30 day challenge – Day 19

Disrespecting your parents.

My second sister and i were at Barnes & Noble about a year ago when we came across a book about birth order.  My first sister is only two and a half years younger than me, and my second sister is eleven years younger than her, almost fourteen years younger than me.  I had never put all that much stock into birth order because i’m not the bossy, take charge type that first borns are meant to be.  What i had never heard before is that there is two kinds of first borns:  the other is compliant, eager to please their parents.  My second sister is the typical type of first born (even though she’s not truly a first, she is the first of the second set of siblings).  I am the compliant, obedient sort.

The Bible teaches children to obey their parents in verses such as Colassians 3:20 (Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord.) and Ephesians 6:1-4:

Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

My father…i tried very hard to get closer to him but he doesn’t like to talk much, i am not all that interested in fixing cars, and he wasn’t interested in what i was interested in.  We did hunt together for a while but we have different styles of going about it.  I’m willing to find a spot to sit in all day, and he wants to hike around the entire time.  But mother did most of the discipline, he had to get very frustrated and angry to discipline us and was more likely to just throw one of his tantrums.

Is it disrespectful to be honest about his behavior?  I’ve wondered that for a long time.  It would break the Ten Commandments to lie about it, but i try not to talk much about it at all.  It wasn’t until the last couple of years that i became open about it online and i don’t talk about it in RL in order to respect my mother’s wishes.  She doesn’t want people to know that she has remained faithful in marriage to a man that i would have left a long time ago.  I believe in the sanctity of marriage, and not divorcing (the Bible only gives adultery as a valid reason), but i’ve wondered how long you put your husband first when he is psychologically and emotionally damaging your children.  I obviously did not come first in this equation, i am still dealing with this damage.

Did i obey my parents?  Yes, i did, to my own detriment, time and again.  My mom gave me an out, she taught me that it is okay to disobey our parents if we are being told to sin, but i never found that stipulation in the Bible.  In junior and high school all of the guidance i was receiving told me to bow to my parents’ wishes and pray about it if i disagreed with them so God could change their hearts and opinions.  But is it a sin to not follow God’s call in your life when your parents have forbade it?  I still am haunted by this.  It always felt like a sin to me, i was certain that God wanted me to go to California and become an actress, to drop out of high school and get a GED, to not even go to public high school in the first place, but i obeyed my parents instead.  The kicker is that even though i have obeyed my parents to the best of my ability (father’s rules and expectations have been known to change arbitrarily on a whim) things are going anything but well for me.  I am barely eking by.  I keep trying new ways to get out of this house and stand on my own two feet and am rebuffed time and again.  I am not being blessed.

nraringer

my father and i in 1983

Do i still obey my parents?  They don’t try to tell me what to do anymore for the most part.  I live in their house, i try to respect their wishes, i use my own judgement on books and films and TV shows now (i didn’t read Harry Potter until i was twenty and had moved out of my parents’ house).  On the recent trip to my cousin’s wedding we were in a catholic church.  At one point in the program it asked for us to kneel, so we put the kneeler down, and then my father put it back up.  So i submitted to his guidance and did not kneel during the service.  I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot lately.  At one time i did not want to be submissive to my father at all, but i’m pretty sure that while i have lived with him i always have been.  It chafes, but it goes against myself to talk back to him.  I have done it a couple of times, but it’s terrifying, and i usually try to be silent and obedient, to not provoke further anger.  It amazes me that the younger set just doesn’t even care, they will be rude and disrespectful and provoke more anger.  I never did that, i would always placate even when i was terrified of being with him.  Being in public school actually gave me a bit of an out, i must confess:  “I can’t go hunting with you, i have a test and practice after school.”

If you want to picture what my father is like you need to combine John McClane, Corbin Dallas, Ethan Hunt, and Jack Reacher.  No, he hasn’t dealt directly with terrorists or spies, but he was in the Army, later Air Force, and Border Patrol, later Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  He served in Desert Storm.  He’s investigated child pornography and prostitution here in Colorado.  He served as temporary secret service to John Kerry when he was running for president.  He’s traveled the world.  He doesn’t talk much and looks like Tom Cruise.  He has anger issues.  He’s not the best father.  But he has served his country, and he has provided for my family.  I respect him, i just don’t want to spend a lot of time around him.

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