Charlie's Blog: How To Be a Good Son To a Bad Father


How To Be a Good Son To a Bad Father

And you, fathers, provoke not your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and correction of the Lord. 

The Fourth Commandment of the Decalogue tells us to honor our parents. This seems fairly straightforward until you consider the dishonorable parent. How do you honor those who disgrace themselves? More and more, this is a question that people ask themselves as parents especially those of the Baby Boom generation have shown themselves to be so godless and wicked. How do you do right by those who do wrong by you?

This essay could have easily been titled "How To Be a Good Daughter To a Bad Mother." But I choose sons and fathers because it is usually the father who has failed in our society. What makes fathers bad? We could point to deadbeat dads, alcoholics, and adulterers. But the thing that unites all bad fathers is that they are godless. They do not go to church. They do not read the Bible. They do not pray. They can't even say grace before a meal.

It is ridiculously easy to honor and respect a godly father. You merely have to listen to him and follow his example. But many fathers today don't make it so easy for their children. They provoke their children to anger and do not bring them up in the discipline and correction of the Lord. The easiest thing for a son to do in this situation is to become the same bastard as his father. But this will only lead to misery and damnation. What must a good son do?

1. Get away from that guy.

Sons with bad fathers must seek to put distance between themselves and their fathers. This is especially true if the father is abusive and alcoholic. Not all fathers are evil incarnate, but you must separate yourself from the ones who would destroy you and your life. Minors are trapped until their majority, but they should plot their escape as soon as possible.

2. Do not be like Bad Dad.

The sad thing about bad fathers is they end up with bad sons. So often, the son is indistinguishable from the father having the same bad traits. It is easier when the father provides a good example of what his son should be. But the bad father provides a good example of what a son should not be. Whether dad is good or bad, it is still possible to be a good son.

3. Be godly.

Go to the Lord. Go to church. Pray. These things will make a good son less like his bad father.

4. Do not engage in detraction.

Noah's good sons covered his nakedness instead of mocking him. Likewise, the good son does not subject his bad father to scorn and ridicule even if the things he would say about him are true. Always show respect.

5. Pray for your father.

Whether good or bad, you should always pray for your father. Pray that he would become a good man. Pray that the Lord would have mercy on his soul.

6. Leave the judgment to God.

Bad fathers should pay for being bad fathers, and they will. This payment may happen after this life in Purgatory or Hell. Or, the bad father may repent of his wickedness and be reconciled to his son. Either way, the remedy for anger is to leave it to God to be the judge. Until then, the good son learns to let it go.

We have a lot of bad fathers today. Many of them are nothing more than sperm donors. Others who stick around aren't much better. I always thought that fathers and sons should be like Opie and Andy on The Andy Griffith Show. But life is not a TV show. Most men today had awful fathers. If your father failed as a father, there is nothing that requires that you duplicate his example. Just be a good son to him and be a good father to your own children.