How and why should I respect a parent that doesn't deserve respect?

Home Forums Family Matters How and why should I respect a parent that doesn't deserve respect?


Viewing 43 posts - 1 through 43 (of 43 total)
  • Author
  • #614872
    Letakein Girl

    Nothing to add. My question is in the title.

    ☕️coffee addict

    care to add why you think that

    a general answer is they gave you life (eisavs reason), they fed you for X years, they let you use their internet to post this question


    How? By taking control over your actions. Why? At least because God said so. Do they deserve respect? Not your question but nearly certainly. All humans deserve respect – even those that haven’t enabled your existence.


    Gratitude equals respect?

    Chayei Adam says that you must not only SHOW respect to your parents, but also personally view them as great people, even if they’re not… I can’t say I understand.


    who you respect or dont says little about the person being respected and much about the one doing the respecting (or not). see, eg yaakov avinu vis a vis yosef in vaychi or moshe vis a vis yitro.

    kj chusid

    Lg I’m suprised to see u would write that u seem to be a generally happy person maybe giving some details would help us understand your situation better

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    How: by showing the respect which the halachah demands.

    Why: as FNY said, because the Torah commands us.

    Yes, easier said than done.


    A. Because the Torah commanded you to.

    B. Because it will give you long life.


    I have to agree with Lior on this one. The Torah doesn’t qualify this law. It just IS! Remember you get more reward for doing a mitzvah that is harder for you personally, to fulfill.

    Letakein Girl

    Wow, thank you so much for all of your responses! They are truly appreciated.

    I know that the Torah obligates me to respect my parents, but I honestly don’t understand how I am expected to do that. Don’t worry, mods- I’m not going to post why 😉

    Sure, my father gave me life. But first off, he wasn’t the one to go thru labor- in my opinion, giving birth to me wasn’t too hard or unpleasant for him. Second, he is behaving in an awful way, and doing things kineged HaTorah. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m almost positive that were allowed to say lashon hara about an apikores, right? So just because he’s my father, I hafta respect one?


    If OP’s question was as how logician understood it, then all other answers, repeated several times, didn’t address it.

    The little I know

    Actually, much needs to be added to the question of the title to have a chance of responding with any rationality. There are several variables.

    There are parents who are plainly evil, mean and abusive to their children. These may not deserve respect, but halacha does not give a blanket exemption from kibud av v’em.

    There are also parents who have a poor relationship with a child, and it is often that the child is a factor in this dysfunction. That child may well feel that the parents are horrible specimens of humanity, but this could be exaggerated due to anger and whatever other emotional variables are present.

    Sometimes a child wants to direct his/her life according to a style that is foreign and offensive to parents, who object and do not comply. One may question whether parents should try another approach to parenting, but the conclusion that parents deserve to be disrespected is inaccurate.

    There is much to wonder about the details of the question. I would hope that commenters refrain from offering psak halacha, even if qualified to pasken, until there is more information.


    Yes you must respect your parents, but what is respect and what isn’t? respect does not mean you should do things that you know in your heart is wrong, respect does not mean you should live in a state of constant fear, respect does mean that you treat them with deference and to appreciate that yes you are here because of them, respect does mean that you have to listen to them and know that not only because they are your parents are they wiser but because they have been there and done that and know the trials and tribulations of being young.


    To letakeingirl

    I’ve been following the coffee room discussions for a short while now and it was always with curiosity and entertainment. I’ve never posted. However when I saw your post it prompted me to create a username just to answer your question. Basically I hear everyone’s answers which are all on the same line about being obligated etc.

    I am not negating it however it seems that her question is much deeper. LG it seems Youare asking more from a place of pain. yes very often we watch our parents make mistakes and sometimes unfortunately many mistakes.. no one is perfect and we are still obligated to honor our parents. However there are exceptions and extreme situations where one must consult daastorah (I.e. abusive situations ) the parameters for the halachos of kibud av vaeim are very clear. There are specific halachos of what kibud horim entails. (I.e.making sure they have food clothing etc)

    obviously in an ideal world parents would all be ‘deserving ‘ of our respect. And yes the sefer hachinuch (I think ) writes that the fact they brought us inyo world is enough for us to have to respect them.

    I am not denying that. Just sayingthat if your situation is an extreme one like abuse etc. Please please consult with a reliable rov who can guide you.

    Even a rebetzin or mechaneches may be able to help you sort your feelings and you won’t feel so guilty for having certain feelings etc.

    the Torah doesn’t tell us not to feel. Only how to act. .

    best of luck..


    Even if you separate gratitude from respect, as Logicial seemingly suggested, you still must have gratitude for your parents for giving birth to you, feeding you, educating you (directly and/or paying your teachers) and supporting you. You must have both gratitude and respect.

    Menachem Melamed

    This is a question which is quite serious and must be answered on an individual basis. Two mechanchim asked one of the gedolei hador how one of their talmidim should deal with his father who was an abuser. The gadol said that the answer depends on the maturity of the son, and his age. Anyone who has such challenges needs to have a reliable and wise Rav or Rebbetzin to whom they can tun to for advice.


    There is no mitzvah to LOVE your parents. But regardless of your feelings towards them, you are obliged to treat them with respect. That may be very difficult at times, but that does not diminish the obligation in any way. The only exception is when the parent asks the child to commit an aveira. Then there is no chiyuv to follow the parents’ wishes in order to respect them. I am sorry to hear that this is such a problem in your life.


    LG I will not claim to be any sort of daas torah and obviously you shud ask your rav what the halachos point is that I dont want you to walk around with guilt that you don’t FEEL Respect towards your parent. In regard to how to ACT with respect, speak to ur Rov about the halachos as it is very important to have clarity in this area.

    kibud av vaeim is a mitzvah that applies to all and is so importany. Like oomis said, it’s not a mitzvah to love ur parents however we do have guidelines in how to relate to them. And there are guidelines for all situations..yes it’s often difficult..



    I honestly don’t understand how I am expected to do that

    If we’re talking about showing respect – you can do it like any other action (although admittedly emotionally difficult at times)

    If we’re talking about actually feeling something – several posters have assumed that not to be part of the mitzva. As I quoted above, that doesn’t seem to be the case, and no one’s addressing that.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    Actually, my post did address that. The way to address how one feels (or at least a way) is to act the part. Hachitzonius m’orer es hap’nimius.

    If one shows respect, with sincerity, one ends up feeling respect.


    #I don’t know if this is the right place to address this question.

    I’m assuming there are hours worth of explanation behind your short question.

    My two answers to you are

    1) Find someone you trust in a halachic perspective

    2)find a therapist to speak to about your relationship

    best of luck!

    Hang in there…

    Letakein Girl

    I thinkI’ll take #’s advice. Thank you all so much for your posts!


    There will be many people in your life to whom you most likely will need to show respect, a rov, a boss, your spouse etc, at times when perhaps you feels they do not seem to deserve it. Your rov gave you a p’sak you didn’t like, your boss ragged on you for not meeting deadline on time, your spouse picks a fight with you. How do you react. How do you deal with each individual situation? You may NEVER show disrespect to your rov. You would be foolish (and maybe taking your future in your hands) to show disrespect to your boss. Ditto, for your spouse.

    So when it comes to your parents who D’Oraisah oblige you to ACT WITH RESPECT in dealing with them, remind yourself that just as you would not tell your boss off, kal v’chomer you need to watch yourself in relating with your parents.

    Git Meshige

    Because the Torah said so. That simple.


    Its no big deal to respect someone that you think is amazing. its shows a lot about a persons Middos to be able to respect someone that you have to even if they dont seem to deserve it.

    good luck


    #To all you posters out there who wrote that no matter what, you must respect your parents, I disagree with you. There are circumstances where children of abuse have received a psak that counters what you have said, such as no requirement for sitting shiva…. please research your answers before posting especially with such sensitive topics…


    Sometimes a person receives a psak to eat chazir. That doesn’t mean eating chazir or lacking kibud av v’eim is muttar. Nor does it mean that if asked you shouldn’t advise people to refrain from eating chazir or to insure they have kibud av v’eim.


    If you google ” honoring abusive parents” you should get an article on hakira by Mark Dratch (YU)

    If you google “honoring parents who are abusive” you should get an article by Dr. Benzion Sorotzkin.


    The OP never mentioned the word abusive.

    I didnt get the impression that we are talking about an extreme situation.

    If this is an extreme abusive situation then I would suggest a qualified professional.


    DY – hmn. I don’t think so.

    My actions will affect me internally, yes. So if I’m lacking in my midah of respecting others in general, and I act the part, it will affect my midah and change me. Or perhaps if I acknowledge that someone should be respected but I have some personal feelings or bias that gets in the way, the same would apply. But if there is a particular person for whom I logically believe is not worthy of respect, simply acting with respect towards them will not change anything.

    rational jew

    Think of the good in your father. Deep down (or maybe not so deep) you love him. You probably have warm memories from your childhood. Thats probably why youre asking. You want to love him. Put yourself in his situation. Try to understand him, how he sees it however wrong. Hes probably going through many difficulties. When the anger burns out it turns to sadness pity and love. Eventually you may even be able to look up to him how he does try to be good despite his difficulties and how in some ways he is great. Of course this must be done with competent guidance for your situation but most of the time the above is true even if he is not frum. The Torah is not just chiyuvim its what you truly want and need.

    Letakein Girl

    Thank you, RJ, for your wise words.


    LG: just one more point. People sometimes do change and do Teshuvah. Hopefully he will repent one day. If you disrespect him now it may haunt you later when you’ll want to make peace with him.

    For now you want to make him see the beauty in Yiddishkeit and Hashem – whose traits and Mitzvos you are glorifying with your positive behavior and derech eretz. Even, or maybe more so if he doesn’t believe at this point.

    Much hatzlachah!


    As some have commented, the rule is show respect, not to fabricate feelings. You don’t have to go overboard. Just stick to the basic rules.

    This can be quite hard to do when the parent doesn’t show respect for you. And in our era, this is not uncommon, particularly in New York.

    So practical advice will depend on exactly what you are experiencing. If the person is just a buffoon, that’s one thing. If they drive you crazy or push you around, that’s another.

    Generally, keeping to yourself is helpful. It’s amazing how much better we can along with people when we don’t talk.

    But why do it? It helps the world run better. You need a certain order and hierarchy. Even if a local rabbi is foolish, we should treat him with respect or else you have chaos in the shul.

    Also it builds character to suffer a fool, and just keep the mouth shut. You’ll get smarter while they get dumber. In the end, you win.

    Another thing to consider is some sympathy for the parent. (I’m not talking about a highly abusive parent.) We live in the end of days. The world is nuts. Your parent likely suffers to earn a living and may have been mistreated his or her whole life. He or she might not have had good role models. There are many possibilities.

    Letakein Girl

    Thank you, Mammale and owl. Your posts were both eloquent and helpful.

    Have a good Shabbos!


    Rabbi Avigdor Miller has many recordings and writings on the topic of dealing with difficult people. They can be of course parents, spouses, in-laws – you name it. In this day and age with the world full of people living in urban environments and having lost good manners and such, this is an ongoing life challenge.

    rational jew

    ” giving birth to me wasn’t too hard or unpleasant for him.”

    It wasnt too hard or unpleasant for hashem either yet thats the primary reason to thank Him and love him. Besides He loves us and gave us His “personality” tzelem elokim and sustains us and so did our parents. The way you relate to your parents is the way you relate to yourself. A ptur from kibud is like cutting off your arm. Perhaps necessary in extreme cases but should be taken with caution. Wheres the mkor that kovod does not include love?


    It is interesting to note that there is actually a machlokes between the RAMBAM AND RAMBAN as to whether there is a mitzvah of kibbud av if one’s father is a “rasha”.(I strongly doubt that this is relevant in the case being discussed.)


    I would echo the words of yeshivishwannabe and some others here in this succinct way:

    The Torah tells you to how to TREAT your parents, not what you must THINK or FEEL about them. Some people do have truly horrible parents (read: exposed their children to DV, drugs, sexual abuse etc.). The halachos of what you are required to do are clearly outlined in shulchan aruch. You are not asked to love your parent or to have feelings of respect, just to act in a respectful fashion toward them.

    rational jew

    R Avigdor Miller was asked (in Q + A book) why psychologists say kavod does not include love. He answers it does proving it from the Chazall that we love our mother more than our father so I would think we should honor her more thats why father is mentioned first. Besides if its put right next to respect of hashem it obviously means in the heart just like our relationship with hashem is not just outward. And anyway there is usually a mitzvah of v’ahavta l’reiacha kamocha which is certainly in the heart. Of course you don’t need to feel guilty because this is one of the hardest mitzvos. LG I’m sorry if I was insensitive I should have been more careful.


    I could use an answer to that question, My father won’t talk to his father, I won’t talk to my mother and now my father’s father is trying to get me to talk to my mother.

    I seem to be living in this crazy world.


    A Rav/Mechaneches & or licensed therapists are great ideas.

    My advice would be to seek out and make a list, if possible, of some attributes that you could find in your father. You never know what you can come up with! Concentrate on that, and you can try your best to work out a way to view your father in a positive way.

    Hatzlacha Raba!


    What about when you and your parents are on opposite sided of a war?

Viewing 43 posts - 1 through 43 (of 43 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.