Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:

Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.

From pages 298 - 299:

All of recognize that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. All of us are descended from imperfect parents, and grew up in imperfect families. But to acknowledge this as an intellectual proposition is one thing. To actually admit that our parents have failed us is, for some of us, a very hard thing to do.

It may even seem like a wrong thing to do. Doesn’t the Bible teach that we are supposed to honor our father and mother? (Exodus 20:12). Indeed we are. But what does it mean to honor our parents? Does it mean we should never acknowledge their weaknesses, limitations, and mistakes? Does it mean we should never acknowledge the pain they may have caused us? I don’t think so.

The original Hebrew word used in the passage literally means “assign weight to.” It is as though someone told us something and we replied, “I want to carefully weigh what you’ve said.” If we consider their words and decide that they are important, we are, in a sense “assigning weight” to them. Thus to “honor” our parents means to assign weight – value, importance, significance – to them.

When that original Hebrew word was translated into Greek for the New Testament, the Greek word had to do with “giving glory to” the thing being honored. Both the Greek and the Hebrew carried the sense of honoring people because of the position they held, not necessarily because of intrinsic value.

One way to understand this is to imagine that you are in a banquet hall. Part way through the banquet, your city mayor walks in. Now, let’s suppose that you are not particularly fond of this mayor. You didn’t vote for him in the last election, and you think he has made some bad decisions. Even so, when he walks into the room, you stand up with everyone else to greet him.

Why? Because he is the mayor, and honoring him is the appropriate thing to do. You assign a certain value, or “weight” to him because of the position he holds. This does not mean you now have to start liking him, or even respecting him, as a person. It does not mean you have to start pretending that you agree with everything he has done as mayor. The honor is accorded to the position he holds, not so much to the individual.

In the same way, we can honor our parents – accord them an appropriate degree of “weight” – because of the position they hold in our lives as parents. Similar to our example with the mayor, the fact that we honor them does not mean we have to pretend that they have never done anything wrong or hurtful to us.

It is healthy, not dishonoring, to acknowledge that our parents failed us, hurt us, damaged us in some way – especially if we are doing so for the sake of forgiving them. We do neither our parents nor ourselves any honor by denying reality, eliminating the possibility of forgiveness, and locking ourselves into dysfunctional patterns of thinking and acting.

Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)