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Kibud Av – Halacha Question


Hi kivod harav,

I have a question regarding honoring one’s parent in this specific situation. Let’s say one’s father is a narcissist (he has no interest in a relationship with his children, and is mentally abusive and constantly tries to destroy their kid’s confidence). Is one obligated to honor such a parent? Or respond to their phone calls or text messages? As he only reaches out to maintain control over their kid causing tremendous emotional pain with every call or text. Thank you in advance




  1. In general, a child must honor his parent even if they hate the parent, and find them abusive, does that mean that you can call him by his first name? No. It is the same with general kibbud av v’em. For example, even if a person has a father like you are describing, if he asks you for a cup of water, are you obligated to bring it to him? Yes. The reason is because the reason we have to honor out parent, is because Hashem wants us to honor them, and because they are the ones who gave us the gift of life. Without them we would never have the pleasure of eating a good pizza, of breathing fresh air, or enjoying life and any other pleasure in life. Additionally, without them helping ring us to this world, we would not be able to get to olam haba, and all the pleasures that it has, because we can only get to olam haba via olam hazeh. This is why Hashem has equated honoring our parent with honoring Hashem, as the Gemora (kiddushin30) says, a person who honors his parents, Hashem says, I consider it as if I live in that house and the child has honored me personally. And if children don’t honor their parents, Hashem says it is good I don’t live in that house because otherwise the children would have been disrespectful to me too.”

Therefore, even if one’s parent has emotional issues, even though it is very difficult, the child still must honor them. There is however something that is important to remember, that when a person does a mitzva and it is hard, the person gets 100 times the reward, and you will be rewarded by Hashem tremendously for doing this big mitzva even though it is hard. (If, however dealing with an emotionally unhealthy person, is too difficult for the child to do, the child may move away from the parent, so as not to violate the mitzva by being with them. However, this should only be done with the guidance of the proper authorities, who know the situation and can advise you)


  1. It is hard to answer a question of such a nature without really understand the specific situation. I would advise you to speak with a local Rov who knows your father, and can personally advice you regarding this.

Best wishes


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