Q&A – Duties of Children

Is it required of children to obey their parents when the duties required are not in harmony with the requirements of God?

The command of the Lord is, “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee” [Exodus 20:12]. Honor certainly means to obey. But the command assumes that the parent’s requirement will be in harmony with what is right. (See Deuteronomy 6:5–9; Proverbs 22:6.)

It is therefore the parent’s first duty to obey God and train the child aright; and it follows that it is the child’s duty to obey the parent. But if the parent commands the child to do what is contrary to God, and the child knows that it means eternal death to obey the parent, it is the duty of the child to obey God first; eternal life is worth more than this life. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” [Ephesians 6:1, emphasis added]. But let the child be careful that he faithfully obeys whatever is not against the word of God, however great the hardship involved.

“The obligation resting upon children to honor their parents is of lifelong duration. If the parents are feeble and old, the affection and attention of the children should be bestowed in proportion to the need of father and mother. Nobly, decidedly, the children should shape their course of action even if it requires self-denial, so that every thought of anxiety and perplexity may be removed from the minds of the parents. …

“Children should be educated to love and care tenderly for father and mother. Care for them, children, yourselves; for no other hand can do the little acts of kindness with the acceptance that you can do them. Improve your precious opportunity to scatter seeds of kindness.

“Our obligation to our parents never ceases. Our love for them, and theirs for us, is not measured by years or distance, and our responsibility can never be set aside.

“Let children carefully remember that at the best the aged parents have but little joy and comfort. What can bring greater sorrow to their hearts than manifest neglect on the part of their children? What sin can be worse in children than to bring grief to an aged, helpless father or mother?” The Adventist Home, 360.