Family honor is nothing new to the islands, as nearly every young individual raised on the islands has an understanding that to honor parents is to be blessed and successful later down in the walk of life. And as the nation prepares to celebrate National Parents’ Day this Sunday and the outstanding parents in our lives, I thought it would be amazing to get people’s perspective on honor, from the new and young generation to those older and experienced in life. My question: How do you as an individual honor your parents, and what are the visible benefits of that honor?
One of my close friends, Sena Finau, a businesswoman in Tongatapu, Tonga, spoke to me of the key factors she learned about honor. “I believe honor starts from the heart. Honoring is crucial because this is not something that we can just say but is something that we must believe and act upon. We honor our parents by simply obeying them in not only by our action, but also in our thoughts and our hearts. It more like regarding them in admiration and with deep, deep respect. We also honor our parents with our words. How we speak toward them should be different from how we speak with our siblings or friends. Also the tone of how we speak to them is very much important as the words we use. Lastly is our action. Sometimes as we grow older and have our own families, we tend to forget our responsibility as kids to our parents as we should be looking out for them as they grow old. We cannot just neglect them because we have our own priorities now that we’re older. I believe that with all of my heart that as long as we have our parents with us on this earth we must do all that we can do to honor them because I strongly believe that if you cannot honor them, then you cannot truly honor any authority or anyone throughout your life and that is scary.”
She noted that although there is no perfect parent, yet there is still a way we can find to honor them. She also mentioned some of the benefits she has seen because of parental honor. “I realized that you can never have a successful life if you are not a person who knows the value of honoring, nor more importantly living this life, and it must start with us honoring our parents. I believe we can guarantee a successful life if we simply understand and live this principle to truly honor our parents because not only it is a commandment but it does come with a promise.”
Finau also shared her personal thoughts, regarding her late father who passed away a couple of years ago. “I wish my Dad [were] still alive so I can give him the honor that he deserved. Do not wait ’til they [parents] pass away to greet them, as I did. If you still have them around, even just one of them now, you have the opportunity to honor them while you can.”
And with many islanders holding a religious background, many share a similar view. Alayssa Mondido a liberal arts major at the Northern Marianas College on Saipan, said, “For me, honoring parents can take form in different ways, but what matters is that our love and gratitude is expressed toward them. Parents are expected to provide and raise their children, but we know that not everyone is able to have that experience because their parents went on a different route. We honor our parents when we recognize how significant their decision to keep us and how it has impacted who we are as individuals today. Especially in this day and age, we see more children growing up in a world without their parents, so I look at parents who stuck it out despite the difficulties with high esteem. When we honor our parents, we are not only being a blessing to them, but we are also being a blessing to ourselves. If you are a parent or are planning to become one, our children can learn how to treat us based on how they see us honor our parents.”
Meghan Sumor, a student at Marianas High School, described the way she honors her parents as “doing good in school and life” and using the knowledge they imparted to her. She also mentioned that her parent’s faith have positively impacted her. “If they can change I can change, so what they do with their life impacts me in some way, and they influence me.”
Tekoa Seharmidal a student in the Republic of Palau, says he honors his parents by obeying them and heeding their teachings. “If your father and mother tell you to do something and you don’t want to do it, just do it because they probably are trusting you and relying on you to do it. Personally, I think honoring our parents is also a sign of our gratitude and a non-verbal way we can say ‘thank you’ to those who raised us. And I think the benefits that follow honoring our parents are benefits in life. For example, if you can honor your father and mother, you learn to also honor your boss, wife/girlfriend, and honor anyone who is close to you…”
Elizabeth Abigail Zamarripa, a student of Heritage Academy in Texas, said she honors her parents for their exampleship, and teaching, rearing her up in their faith “I could name all the ways my parents have helped me and guided me but then this would be very long, so I shall keep it simple. The most important thing I honor my parents for is the fact my parents are raising me in a Christian home. My parents being Christians, teaching me about God’s love and mercy, and watching Him use them, and how they are willing to obey even when it really doesn’t make sense makes me respect them more and more. Simply them being Christian, living for God even when the storms come means I can surely serve God even in storms [of life].”
One of the stories that touched me was that of AnaMarie Tuigamala, who told me that she grew up without a father and a single mom who raised her. Being raised without a father, she was usually with her mother or her grandparents. She spoke of the struggles and hardships her mother faced, taking on the roles of both father and mother, disciplining, teaching, and providing for her kids. She remembers her mom as the one who “knit” the family together. “I really admired my mom, and I’ll never forget her teachings.” Her mom’s sudden death at the young age of 48 shook Tuigamala. “She died and she was still working. She was still working to make ends meet,” Tuigamala said tearfully. It wasn’t until many years later that Tuigamala’s relationship with her father started to mend. He was already elderly when he began to come around. “I don’t think God is going to forgive me for all things that I did,” he told her.
Tuigamala cared for her father as he entered his late years and until his death in 2014. She mentioned the good memories she had of her father before his passing and the restoration that took place in their lives. “That’s what God did. He restored my dad, He restored our relationship. I thank God. Even when I didn’t know much about my dad, but at the end, He [God] gave us this opportunity for us to build that relationship.” Tuigamala serves her community as a home visitor for pre-natal under the Children’s Health Bureau on Saipan.
As a child of missionaries, I have had the privilege to travel and meet people from around the world. And if there’s one thing I understand is that not every person has the “storybook” version of a family, and the truth is sometimes our relationships with family can be so broken. Which is one of the reasons I honor my parents. Both of my parents grew up in broken homes, plagued by domestic violence and substance abuse. But even though they came from that environment, they did not follow the path placed before them. Many statistics say that we tend to follow in our parents’ footsteps, yet something changed. They changed. Their families changed, and my childhood was one completely different from theirs. It was one that was sweet, innocent, and full of memories. And I honor and respect them for that. But what caused the change? My parents became Christians as young adults. …They forgave those that did them wrong. Forgiveness pieced our broken family’s relationship, and in fact if you meet them, you could never tell that they came from a broken home. Because they changed their course, my childhood was changed. And I am grateful for that. Don’t get me wrong, my life’s not perfect, we are not the “storybook” family. Yes, there were hard times we faced as a family, but those hard times drew us closer. But what held my family together? What pieced Tuigamala’s together? What was the glue? Faith was the glue.
Chrystal Marino (Correspondent)