20 ¶ Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.
The Hebrews under the Law were told within the context of the Ten Commandments;
Exodus 20:12 ¶ Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
This is reinforced for Christians;
Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
Under the Law given to Moses for the Hebrews a child could be killed as a civil penalty for dishonoring his or her parents by word or deed. Remember, the Law given to the Hebrews was to serve as not only the spiritual rule of their lives but the civil law, as well.
Exodus 21:17 And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.
This was a serious problem and the breakdown in family authority was lamented greatly.
Micah 7:6 For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.
While Christians do not have the civil force of the commands given to them as Law to be enforced on them by a civil magistrate it is clear that this rule is still in force in the respect that God will not bless anyone who disrespects his or her parents. Notice it does not say to honor your parents only if they are also believers or if they believe what you do. It says to honor them. God’s approval is not forthcoming to any Christian who treats even his unsaved parents with disdain or disrespect.
Certainly, you may not be able to trust the influence your unsaved parents have on your children so leaving the children alone with them may not be an option. But, there is no reason to show disrespect. We get crankier and more set in our ways as we grow older. Try to bear with that. Sometimes aged parents can be as hard to deal with as small children. Be patient. One day you, as well, may be in their situation.
There is an old story that’s told about a little boy who watched his parents mistreat his grandfather. The old man was sloppy and mentally deranged so that they even made him eat his food in a bowl on the floor. One day the little boy said to his father that he looked forward to the day when the boy could make his father eat on the floor. This gave the man pause as to what he had been teaching his child by example. What goes around comes around.
This is a hard Proverb and the Law upon which it is based is a hard commandment to bear. Some people’s parents are just fools and have always been so. It’s hard to respect a parent who never seems to have grown up or who has always been an example of wickedness. It is possible, as well, that you simply can’t be around the parent because of some horrible sin they committed against you or some innocent other in the past. A child who has suffered sexual abuse or extreme physical abuse from a parent is not going to be able to deal with having any contact with them. If that is so, it’s best that you do stay away from them.
But, in the main, most of us have parents who tried, even if we think they failed. And we, most of us, who have had children, understand how hard it is to be a parent. Many of us come into parenthood with unreasonable and naïve expectations and things don’t always work out like we planned. So, the only thing you can do, Christian, is considering the state of your relationship with your parents, respect and honor them as best you can and forgive them for their deficiencies, lack of knowledge, and failures. Realize that in God’s order of things, to be pleasing to Him, you must. It is right and God calls you to do it. As you should do for your spouse and children pray also that God will give you a greater love for your parents, especially if they are hard to feel positive affections for. Sometimes, that’s the only way you can accomplish what God commands, by Him changing you from what you are to what He wants you to be.