Lesson 9: Honoring Parents

Young Women Manual 1, (2002), 32–37


Objective

Each young woman will try to improve her relationship with her parents.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Make a copy of the questionnaires in this lesson for each young woman (see page 37). You may want to give the questionnaires to the young women a week in advance so they could bring them to class filled out.

  2. 2.

    Assign young women to present any scriptures, stories, or quotations you wish.

Note to the teacher

As you prepare this lesson, adapt the material if any young women in your class do not have a father or mother in their homes.

Suggested Lesson Development

We Can Learn to Recognize Our Parents’ Love

Story

Read the first part of the following story, “Holiday Homework.”

“It’s hard for me to tell this because I was sort of immature, but I’ll never forget last Christmas. See, I have this friend who lives up on the hill, and her family has [everything]—big house, nice cars, clothes. … But don’t get me wrong—they are really nice people and are great to me. Karen’s dad is in the bishopric, and they really have a perfect home life—just the kind I always thought was the ideal.

“… Well, I’m over there a lot, and they invited me to come to their Christmas Eve dinner. Everything was so fantastic. I mean, we ate in the dining room with candles, crystal, china, and two forks and spoons. Her dad gave a family prayer to begin with.

“… I’d never had a gift that cost over five dollars in my life. I could just imagine what it would be like when Santa Claus dropped by that night. …

“When Brother Miller drove me home I felt like I didn’t want to go in. He said, ‘Have a Merry Christmas, Cheryl. We really enjoyed having you with us.’ He was so warm and fatherly. I wanted to tell him how neat he was, but I ended up just saying, ‘Thanks, it was great!’

“The door was locked so I stood there ringing the bell and looking at the paint peeling on the house. Then there was that torn drape that the dog ripped a year ago. I just couldn’t help but compare the Millers’ home with our little run-down house. I heard Dad shuffling to the door in his slippers and the TV blaring in the living room. He opened the door and started shouting at me, telling me I was too late and the least I could do was stay home on Christmas Eve. … But he was half [drunk] and didn’t really mean everything he said, I told myself.

“… There was nothing around that looked like Christmas but a faded wreath on the door and a cheap Christmas tree with little balls hung on with hairpins. The house was a mess and smelled of stale bacon.

“Mother came to the doorway in [an old] robe. … I could tell from her expression she had a migraine [headache] again. ‘Surely wish my little girl would stay home once in a while and help her mother out.’

“Tears were coming; I could tell from the sting in my throat. I touched my mom on the shoulder, and all I could say was ‘Sorry, Mom,’ not really meaning it.

“I went in my bedroom and shut the door, kicking my little sister’s shoes out of the way.

“I couldn’t figure how come I had to be born in my family and not some family like the Millers. … It’s really hard when you’re the only Church member in the family. The elders told me it would be tough and that I had a big job ahead of me, setting a good example. I tried to but it seemed my family only thought I felt I was real big stuff for joining the Church and changing my life. …

“… I went right to bed without saying a prayer. I just couldn’t. I was so bitter I didn’t think the Lord would hear me.”

Discussion

  • How did Cheryl feel about her parents? Why?

  • How do you feel about Cheryl’s parents?

  • What could Cheryl have done to improve the situation at home?

Story

Read the conclusion of the story.

“Christmas morning I woke late when the sun was streaming in over my bed. Christmas morning! I jumped up with that tingly Christmas feeling. … I pulled my robe on and walked out into the living room. …

“‘That’s for you, Cheryl,’ [my mother said], pointing to a box under the tree.

“Dad pushed the box over to me. It was a big box with no paper but tied with varieties of leftover ribbon. I thought it would be a sweatshirt for P.E. because I needed one, but it wasn’t. When I pulled the tissue paper away, there were the folds of the most gorgeous long dress I’d ever seen. It was one of those old-fashioned ones with a full skirt and lace and ruffles. It had to be [very expensive].

“I just couldn’t say anything for a minute. My breath was all sucked in.

“‘I just can’t believe it! How fantastic!’ I just kept saying that over and over while I held the dress up to me.

“… Dad was looking away, but I went over and sat by him. I just couldn’t help throwing my arms around him and giving him a big bearhug, and I don’t know how long it had been since I’d done that!

“‘How did you manage it, Dad? I mean, I know you can’t afford it!’

“He stared at … the couch and didn’t say a word, but his mouth sort of tightened and twitched a little. He moved his arm quickly around my shoulder and just as quickly away. I just sat there for a while looking at the worn knees in his pants and thinking about loving and giving and what a big job I had ahead of me” (Carol C. Ottesen, “Holiday Homework,” New Era, Dec. 1972, pp. 22–23).

Discussion

  • How did hearing the end of the story change your feelings about Cheryl’s father?

  • Why do you think this young woman and her father did not understand each other’s feelings?

  • What indications were there that Cheryl’s parents loved her?

  • Do you sometimes wonder if your parents love you?

  • In what ways do your parents show their love?

  • How can you learn to understand your parents better?

Understanding Parents Is a Key to a Better Relationship

Explain that our love and appreciation for other people grow as we come to know and understand more about their backgrounds, experiences, and feelings.

Questionnaire

If the young women have completed the questionnaires in advance, discuss them at this time. If not, distribute a copy to each young woman. Encourage them to fill them out as completely as they can during the coming week. If they are unable to complete the questionnaires, they should ask their parents for the answers.

What Do You Know about Your Mother?

  1. 1.

    Maiden name: ______________________________

  2. 2.

    Birthplace: ______________________________

  3. 3.

    Was she raised by her parents? ______________________________

  4. 4.

    Number of her brothers and sisters: ______________________________

  5. 5.

    Her place in the family (oldest, youngest, etc.): ______________________________

  6. 6.

    Occupation of her father: ______________________________

  7. 7.

    Did they have financial security? ______________________________

  8. 8.

    Religious affiliation of her family: ______________________________

  9. 9.

    What are her most memorable spiritual experiences? ____________________________________________________________

  10. 10.

    Does she have any special background or traditions? ____________________________________________________________

  11. 11.

    What kind of relationship did she have with her parents? ______________________________

  12. 12.

    What is her education? ______________________________

  13. 13.

    What are her most memorable school experiences? ____________________________________________________________

  14. 14.

    What kind of work did she do before her marriage? ______________________________

  15. 15.

    What is her main goal in life? ____________________________________________________________

  16. 16.

    What makes her happy? ______________________________

  17. 17.

    What makes her sad? ______________________________

  18. 18.

    What hardships has she overcome? ______________________________

  19. 19.

    What does she most enjoy doing with her family? ______________________________

  20. 20.

    What does she enjoy doing in her spare time? ______________________________

What Do You Know about Your Father?

  1. 1.

    Name: ______________________________

  2. 2.

    Birthplace: ______________________________

  3. 3.

    Was he raised by his parents? ______________________________

  4. 4.

    Number of his brothers and sisters: ______________________________

  5. 5.

    His place in the family (oldest, youngest, etc.): ______________________________

  6. 6.

    Occupation of his father: ______________________________

  7. 7.

    Did they have financial security? ______________________________

  8. 8.

    Religious affiliation of his family: ______________________________

  9. 9.

    What are his most memorable spiritual experiences? ____________________________________________________________

  10. 10.

    Does he have any special background or traditions? ____________________________________________________________

  11. 11.

    What kind of relationship did he have with his parents? ______________________________

  12. 12.

    What is his education? ______________________________

  13. 13.

    What are his most memorable school experiences? ____________________________________________________________

  14. 14.

    What is his occupation? ______________________________

  15. 15.

    What is his main goal in life? ____________________________________________________________

  16. 16.

    What makes him happy? ______________________________

  17. 17.

    What makes him sad? ______________________________

  18. 18.

    What hardships has he overcome? ______________________________

  19. 19.

    What does he most enjoy doing with his family? ______________________________

  20. 20.

    What does he enjoy doing in his spare time? ______________________________

Discussion

Using the questionnaires, continue the discussion.

  • Do you understand why your parents feel as they do about religion (or the Church)?

  • How can learning about your parents’ early lives help you understand their feelings?

  • How would knowing the answers to the questions on the questionnaires help you build a better relationship with your mother and father?

Conclude the discussion by explaining that the young woman in the story grew closer to her father after she understood how he felt. Point out that finding out more about their own parents will help the young women improve their relationships with their parents.

Heavenly Father Has Commanded Each Young Woman to Honor Her Parents

Scripture discussion

Have the young women turn to Exodus 20:12. Explain that God has commanded us to honor our parents. Before a class member reads Exodus 20:12, ask the young women to listen for the promise that is given with the commandment.

  • What promise does the Lord give those who honor their parents?

  • What might this promise mean?

  • Why do you suppose God made it a commandment to honor our parents?

Have a young woman read Paul’s admonition in Colossians 3:20.

  • What reasons does Paul give for being obedient to parents?

Teacher presentation

Explain that learning to honor and obey our earthly parents helps us have a better relationship with them. It can also prepare us to more fully love and obey our Father in Heaven.

We Are Responsible to Improve Our Relationships with Our Parents

Thought question

  • Does knowing that God has commanded you to honor and obey your parents automatically improve your relationship with them?

Chalkboard discussion

  • What are some specific things you could do to improve your relationship with your parents?

As the young women respond, summarize their answers on the chalkboard. The following suggestions may serve as a guide.

To improve my relationship with my parents, I will:

  1. 1.

    Be obedient.

  2. 2.

    Be loyal to them by not saying unkind things about them or to them.

  3. 3.

    Be more cheerful with all family members.

  4. 4.

    Be a good person myself.

  5. 5.

    Be more helpful at home.

  6. 6.

    Try to understand why they are the way they are.

  7. 7.

    Express my appreciation and thanks.

  8. 8.

    Discuss my problems, plans, and goals with them.

  9. 9.

    Always let them know where I am.

Teacher presentation

Explain that a daughter can do many things to improve her relationship with her parents. Different parents would be pleased with different things, but being a good person is one way in which every young woman can honor her parents. A daughter cannot change her parents, but she can improve and strengthen her relationship with them by changing her own behavior. Elder Loren C. Dunn gives a good example:

“I recall a stage play that recently was made into a movie. It dealt with parents whose only child, a son, returned from military service. The father and son had never been close. It was a situation in which both father and son loved each other but were unable to find ways to express themselves, and therefore hostilities arose because each thought the other did not like him. … The high point of the play came when the boy said to his father something like this:

“‘Dad, I always resented you when I was younger because you never told me that you loved me, but then I realized that I had never told you that I loved you either. Well, Dad, I’m telling you now: I love you.’

“For one electrifying moment the father and the son embraced each other as the pent-up love and appreciation of years came flooding out. This probably would never have happened had the son not realized that he was as guilty of lack of expression as his parents” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1969, pp. 22–23; or Improvement Era, June 1969, pp. 52–53).

Add the phrase Tell them you love them to the list on the chalkboard.

Story

One young woman who was determined to improve her feelings about her parents went to her Father in Heaven in earnest prayer. While praying, she decided to thank the Lord for her parents, even though she had never done so before. As she uttered the words of thanks, her mind was instantly filled with reasons why she should be grateful for her parents. She got up from her knees filled with a new love and understanding for two people whom she realized were as much God’s children as she was herself.

Add Pray for help to the list on the chalkboard.

Thought question

  • What will you do to improve your relationship with your parents and thereby please your Heavenly Father?

Suggested Activities

  1. 1.

    Plan an “Honor Parents” night.

  2. 2.

    Develop a plan that each young woman could carry out in her own home, with her brothers and sisters, to express honor and appreciation to her parents.

  3. 3.

    Suggest that each young woman write a letter of appreciation to her parents.

  4. 4.

    Suggest that each young woman set personal goals to show honor and respect to her parents.