I was thinking about this verse, and realized just how eloquently and gently it exhorts us to honor our parents. The command is a gentle one – "keep them good company" – but what we must do to uphold this command is great indeed.
Keeping our parents company means having to spend a lot of time with them, and to do so over the long-term. This means staying with them through thick and thin. Also, long-term companionship can grow tedious, but the child must bear that tedium with honor and kindness. When we realize what we are being asked to do in this verse, we realize just how great a right our parents have over us. No one on Earth has a greater right to our good company.
What does our "good company" mean? It means to be kind and attentive. It means to consult them in all matters that concern them. It means to show impeccable manners in speaking with them, and to never let our speech betray any sense of weariness or irritation. It means to listen attentively to what they have to say – and if they are repeating the same thing for the umpteenth time, we must react to it with as much interest and delight as if we had never heard it before in our lives.
It means to be generous with our wealth, especially if our parents are in need. How many children these days are neglectful of this fact! How many more deceive themselves by saying "my parents are not in need" and therefore lose out on the blessings of spending on their parents.
How many self-centered children foist responsibility to take care of their parents onto the shoulders of their sisters and brothers. In many cases, each end every son and daughter think the same way, and as a consequence, they collectively leave their parents in the lurch!
Our attitude should be to make sure we get our share of the blessings in taking care of our parents, even if they are not in need of us. If we have brothers and sisters, we should compete with them in doing so. Allah says about our good deeds: "And it is in such things that those who compete should vie with one another."
When our parents ask us to do something for them instead of asking our brothers and sisters, we should not feel resentment. We should feel happy about it. We should, after all, be trying to anticipate their needs before our siblings do.
Part of our "good company" is to gently encourage our parents to do good deeds and seek nearness to Allah. Believe it or not, some children do the opposite, especially went their own vested interests are at stake.
For instance, a child may be blessed with wealthy, pious parents. Those parents may wish to engage in a philanthropic project or set us pa public trust. The child tells his parents, feigning genuine concern: "Be careful. Think about this, my beloved parents, you do not want to put yourselves into financial difficulty." Of course, that "well-meaning" child is only interested in making sure his inheritance is larger when his parents die!
Part of our "good company" is to accompany them when they travel – or better yet – to take them out on an excursion or vacation. Many of us are all too willing to go out with our friends, but how often do we think about taking our parents somewhere nice?
In brief, our "good company" means to make our parents as happy as possible. Indeed, this verse is giving us a weighty command.