Can You Honor Mom If You Can't Get Along?

mother and teen daughterThis week wraps up with Mother’s Day, a holiday dedicated to telling mom how great she is and showering her with love, gifts, and words of affirmation.

But …

What if your mom isn’t so great?
What if your mom has disappointed you? Or you just can’t seem to get along with her? Or she’s not in the picture at all?

There isn’t exactly a Mother’s Day card dedicated to saying all of that! If you find that it’s hard for you to express love to your mom this Mother’s Day, here are a few points to ponder.

Honor—No Ifs, Ands, Or Buts

Over and over in Scripture, God commands us to "honor" our parents. Here are a couple of examples.

"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you" (Ex. 20:12).

"Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise) (Eph. 6:2).

Notice that there is no escape clause at the end of these verses. God doesn’t say honor your mother, unless she really gets on your nerves. Or honor your mother, unless her rules seem unreasonable. Or even honor your mother, unless she’s been a really crummy mom. In fact, it doesn’t talk about what kind of moms should be honored at all in these passages. That’s because God knows that we will want to find loopholes and push back against this particular commandment.  

To honor means to treat with respect. That doesn’t have to mean warm fuzzies, but it does mean to talk to your mom respectfully and to honor or follow her rules.

Even if your relationship with your mom is less than perfect right now, look for ways to honor her this Mother’s Day.

Try …

  1. Vowing not to argue or talk back for the entire day. (No eye rolling either!)
  2. Doing what she asks the first time.
  3. Writing her a card or letter that tells her what you respect about her. (I bet you can think of at least one thing!)

Be a Peacemaker

There are always two sides to every story. If your have a difficult relationship with your mom, it is likely that you are both at fault. However, since this blog isn’t, I’ll have to stick to advising you in your unique role in your relationship with your mom.

Matthew 5:9 says, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (Note: You’ll learn more about this verse soon as part of Paula’s series on the Beatitudes.)

If we want to be recognizable as God’s children, we need to make peace.

As Mother’s Day approaches, ask yourself these questions:

  1. In what ways am I contributing to the difficulties my mom and I are having?
  2. What can I do to make my relationship with my mom better?
  3. Is there anything I need to apologize to my mom for?

I bet your mom would accept your attempts to make peace with her as a beautiful gift this Mother’s Day.

Look For a Spiritual Mother

What if your mom isn’t in the picture? Then what? You can’t exactly honor or make peace with someone who isn’t there, can you?

First, let me say that to those of you who have lost a mom to death or divorce, I am so sorry. Your loss is huge, and I’d imagine that this is a particularly difficult holiday for you. But God sees your loss and heartbreak, and He calls His Church to reach out to you.

Galatians 4:27 says, "For it is written, ‘Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.’"

At first glance, this verse doesn’t seem to make much sense. How can a barren woman have more children than a woman with a husband? Why should a woman who cannot have children of her own rejoice? God is calling women to "spiritual mothering." It’s an idea repeated in other places in Scripture like Titus 2:3–5.

If your mom is out of the picture, ask the Lord to provide someone who can mentor, love, and guide you.  No one will be able to replace your mother, of course, but it is possible for a wise, Christian woman to mother and nurture you.

You might consider taking a proactive approach instead of waiting for a spiritual mother to drop into your lap. Who are some women you respect and admire? Ask if you can spend some time with them. (Coffee? Sushi? Lunch date?) Invite them to be a part of your life.  

The bottom line is that the mother/daughter relationship doesn’t always feel like a Hallmark card. This holiday may be a reminder that you want your relationship with your mom to be better. Don’t spend the day wishing you had a different mom; do what you can to make your relationship as strong as it can be.

Let’s get that started right now. Tell me three things you respect about your mom in a comment below or three ways you plan to make peace. No flowers or mushy cards required.