I work in a hardware store that my dad owns. I like this kind of work, but there are some things that make me very uncomfortable, since there have been occasions when my dad has bought stolen merchandise…. And he doesn’t pay all the taxes that are required for his sales…. I feel like I am participating in and supporting something illegal, corrupt, and dishonest. I have considered working somewhere else, but I can just imagine how my dad would react! What should I do, and what is right?

Dear Friend,

We congratulate you for your honesty and integrity! Your conscience is speaking to you, and you are paying attention. Good for you!

There are some honest, kind, and wise parents in the world. The children of those parents should be very thankful for them. However, not all parents are honest, or kind, or wise. Many of us learned at an early age that our parents were making poor choices, sometimes even dishonest or illegal ones, and our consciences warned us to not follow their bad examples. You listened to that warning, and now you want to know what you should do and what is right.

Your situation is one where you can’t seem to follow two of the Ten Commandments at the same time. It might seem that to honor your father, as one of the commandments says, you must agree to his dishonesty (in business matters). But dishonesty breaks another commandment.

On the other hand, if you won’t agree with his dishonesty, it may seem that you are not honoring your parents. So how can you keep both commandments at once?

As a child under the care and provision of your parents, it is probably best for you to obey your father while trying to keep out of any of his illegal activities. You aren’t the one buying illegal merchandise, and you aren’t the one cheating on his taxes, so those things are not your responsibility.

But as soon as you are old enough to be an adult, for legal purposes, quietly look for another job. As an adult you could be considered to be an accomplice in the illegal activity, so it is important for you to break away. Whether or not you tell your father your primary reason for leaving depends on the circumstances. If you have reason to be afraid of him, then it might be better to keep some reasons to yourself. You can, of course, truthfully say that you believe it is time for you to get more experience in a different job so that you can learn other aspects of business and be better prepared for your future.

It is not likely that your father will cease his illegal activities based on your objections, so it might be better for you to pray for him rather than confront him. Your Heavenly Father cares about you, about your situation, and about your dad, so He will hear your prayers. David the Psalmist said, “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.”(1)

Ask God for His wisdom for your future,

1 Ps 145:18-19