Updated: Dec 22, 2021
Dennis Rainey also said that honoring parents acknowledges that you. . .
*value and desire to improve the relationship with your parents.
*respect and recognize their authority;
*affirm what our parents did right and their sacrifice;
*see them through the eyes of Christ;
*forgive them and release any sins, hurts or regrets.
*pass on lessons learned which become part of your legacy.
A written document like The Tribute can carry special power. Dennis says it can be an island of intimate appreciation in a sea of form letters, emails, texts, and impersonal communication. There is something special about a Tribute.
When writing a Tribute, be sure to speak from your heart. Dennis suggests some guidelines for you to use.
Prepare your heart before you share your heart. Get alone and pray.
Create a memory list of fun times, favorite vacations, holidays, pets, etc.
Organize your thoughts.
Write your Tribute. You could write a tribute for each parent or one tribute for both. Start with a sentence telling why you wrote it. After that, write each thought into a sentence or paragraph. After you write the first draft, have someone else read it. When you finish, have it printed on some nice paper.
Mat and frame your tribute. Doing this adds weight and value to your words.
Present it to your parents. People love to be praised and a tribute can take on a life of its own. You could read it aloud at family gatherings like holidays, Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. You could do it publicly or privately. Consider presenting it with your children listening. It’s a great way to model how to leave a lasting legacy.
I took a legal pad and started to remember and write down all the good things that mom had done. I then typed it out on my computer. I then printed it on some nice quality print paper and had it professionally framed and matted. I wrapped it and presented it on Mother’s Day many years ago. When she opened it, I explained what it was and that I wanted to read it to her. And I did, through many tears from me, my mom and my wife Laurie. You can read it below.
A Tribute to my Mom, Joanne Badge
Mom, too often we let time go by and we fail to let the ones who are most important to us know just how special they are. You are a special lady. There are so many reasons why I am thankful you are my mom.
Thank you for teaching me honesty, integrity, self-discipline, and hard work by modeling it yourself for us kids.
Thank you for teaching me that quitting was never an option. I knew that when I started something I could never quit. I remember I wanted to quit band in high School but you wouldn’t let me. Later I became President of the band and part of an All-Star Band.
Thank you for the many hours of attending my extra curricular events. I know that you could have used that time doing something else, but you didn’t. You choose to spend your time watching all of us.
Thanks you for all the times you washed my dirty clothes and made me a special meal when I would come home from college. (I especially loved the Swiss steak with mushrooms.)
Thank you for all the gardening, canning, cooking, cleaning and housework for a family of seven. That was a tremendous job and commitment for so many years.
Thank you for raising us kids especially with all of us being so close in age. The changing diapers, feedings, disciplining-you help up remarkably well. I can’t even imagine someone doing that nowadays. I appreciate the sacrifices that you made for all of us.
Thank you for the nighttime tuck-ins. I remember the piggy-back rides and how you taught us you special nighttime handshake. I now use it with Ashley and Mikelle.
Thank you for teaching me how to cook, clean, iron, sew, wash my clothes, wash the dishes, etc. It helped me be more independent, especially during my college years. It has also allowed me to be more of a help to Laurie around the house.
Thank you for all the family memories; birthdays for twins, camping for seven, mushrooming, Christmases, and Easters. (We always had our fair share of Christmas presents and Easter goodies.)
Thank you for all the pets that you let us have like Lady, Luck, and Mittens. It helped to teach us responsibility and respect for animals.
Thank you for putting up with my bedwetting. I know it was hard washing those extra sheets on top of what you were already cleaning and doing. I appreciate your being patient with me until I finally learned how to control it. (Honestly, I wasn’t doing it on purpose.)
Thank you for the many times you put up with my poor judgement. I know that I disappointed you at times. Whether I was beating on Larry, throwing a yo-yo too close to Penny’s face, stealing Candy’ peas, bugging Kathy or whatever. Thanks for allowing me to learn from my mistakes.
Thank you for your financial support during my college years. I know that it must have put a financial strain on our family but I appreciate your commitment to bettering my life and my career.
Thank you for your encouragement and your commitment to me. Everything I have-my home, my career, my family, and much more- is a gift from you and dad for putting an investment in me. I’m grateful for that.
Your car accident last month was a real a scare - not only for you - but for me. The thought of losing my mom shook me up. I came to realize how important you are to me. I really didn’t mind spending the time with you in Lancaster as you recovered in the hospital. In a way, I feel it was a blessing for me. It allowed me a chance to pay you back just little for so much that you have done for me.
Thank you for being my mom.
I love you.
After reading my tribute to mom, the next time I visited her house, I found it hanging in a prominent place for others to read. It opened up a highway of communication that was always one-way with my mom sharing love, not me. After the tribute, it opened up a two-way highway of communication and love between the two of us. I’d really encourage you to physically type out a tribute, have it matted and framed and then read it in person to your mom if possible. It’s a gift that will keep on giving for a very long time.
Dennis Rainey says that writing a tribute to your parent can cement your relationship with them and allow them to see you as an adult, not a child. It matures us. Some reported that it changed them, even if their parent didn’t. Some have also said that they have received remarkable healing through it. Writing a tribute could be the most profound, mysterious, experience of your life.
Later in life as mom’s health started to fail, mom put me in charge of her personal property and her health. It was a lot of work the last few years of mom’s life as she grew weaker and weaker. I had to make the decision to move her out of her home, into an apartment, then assisted living and finally a nursing home just 2 blocks from my house. When mom passed, I was in charge of having to organize her funeral.
The Family Cycle goes like this. We are totally dependent on our parents when we are being formed in the womb and newly born. As we grow older though, we become increasingly more independent.
Conversely, our parents are 100% independent when we are born. As they age, they become more dependent on their children. At the end of life, many parents become totally dependent on their children. That’s the way it should be. That’s what happened to me.
Even though it was a lot of work and responsibility, I felt like it was also a blessing to take care of my mom. Just like Paul said in Ephesians 6:1-3 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Writing a tribute was one of the hardest but most rewarding things that I have ever done.
Would you have any regrets if your parents died tomorrow? Why wait for the eulogy to praise your parents after they’re gone? Praise them now while they are still alive. Dennis suggest that no matter how many bridges you’ve burned with your parents, take the step forward to praise and honor them.
But what if you had abusive parents? I want to caution you that writing a Tribute does not assure that it will solve your problems. So why should you honor your parents that were abusive? Dennis has three reasons: First, to obey God regardless of pain. Second, so you might experience healing. And finally, we need to do all that we can to reconcile our parents to God.
Dennis also gives the following suggestions when honoring abusive parents. Acknowledge any fear in honoring your parent. Take inventory of the extent of abuse. Choose to forgive them for the damage they did. By faith, thank God for your parents. When ready, honor them even in the smallest of ways. You could write The Tribute of your parents and your faith in God to yourself. Maybe after some healing, God will impress upon you to write it for them.
Dennis finally cautions that The Tribute not be the ultimate test of your relationship with your parents. Be patient as you work to reclaim good memories with your parents. Your parents may refuse to reconnect. Avoid the comparison trap of what other people have done or didn’t do for their parents. And finally, use caution as you try to rebuild your relationship that was broken.
Dennis also has three suggestions if a parent has died and you’re feeling regret. First, allow yourself to grieve. Second, honor your living parent that remains. Lastly, find ways to honor your deceased parent. Maybe write a Tribute even if they’re already gone.
My mom is gone now. I have no regrets. I let her know that I loved her and that she was a good mom through The Tribute. There was a time I couldn’t see that in my younger years. I now have her Tribute and have a place of honor for it in my home to show my children and grandchildren the legacy of their grandmother and great-grandmother.
If you’d like more information on how to write a tribute, you can purchase the book ‘The Tribute’ by Dennis Rainey online.