***UPDATE: Just as God generously pours out His love and grace for us...Family Matters has generously offered to giveaway a copy of "Grace Based Parenting"!! Just comment below and you will be entered to win. SO FUN!! Winner will be announced Tuesday, November 22nd. ***
A few months ago FaithVillage asked me to review "Give Them Grace" by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson. This book was perfect for introducing the concept of parenting with grace & how to weave the gospel into times of correction. It helped me begin to break some bad "performance-based" parenting habits...but I still had a way to go.
When I opened my "swag bag" at the Relevant Conference and discovered a copy of "Grace Based Parenting" by Tim Kimmel, I was ecstatic. Parenting with grace does not come naturally to me and I was excited to learn more.
"Grace provides equilibrium for a family. Where too many parents are concerned with how others view their children, grace-based parents are more excited with how God views their children. Grace-based parents avoid the silly preoccupations with arbitrary standards devised by evangelical busybodies...they encourage their children to find the unique individual that God designed them to be through an intimate and authentic relationship with Christ." -Grace Based Parenting pg 212
The last night of Relevant I sat down at the dinner table anxious to hear Ann Voskamp, our keynote. Little did I know how much wisdom I would gain from the woman sitting right next to me, Karis Murray. We introduced ourselves and she said she was there representing Family Matters (Tim Kimmel's ministry). I thanked her for the free copy of "Grace Based Parenting" and told her why I was so anxious to read it.
Karis showed me this large bookmark that easily outlined the philosophy of Family Matters Ministry and Tim Kimmel's series of books & videos.
The foundation of "Grace-Based Relationships" is the following concepts:
Children's Inner Needs:
- Secure Love
- Significant Purpose
- Strong Hope
- The freedom to be different
- The freedom to be vulnerable
- The freedom to be candid
- The freedom to make mistakes
As she finished explaining, the last point struck me. How often have I over-reacted to mistakes my boys have made? I shared with Karis how recently I got upset when my sons were rough-housing and broke a lamp. She pointed out that breaking the lamp wasn't sin. It was a mistake. Exactly.
Critics of this book may feel that grace-based homes allow kids to run wild and do whatever they please. This could not be farther from the truth. Karis pointed out that sin is different than mistakes. Sin has consequences. We are doing our children a disservice if we do not treat their sin with consequences.
"Grace demands that you actually walk by faith...There is nothing in the realm of grace that gives anyone the license to ignore God's standards. If anything, grace should motivate you to a higher holiness. Grace-based homes aren't places where family members assume they can say whatever they want, see whatever they want, etc...That's not grace. That's someone wanting to live his or her own life with no regard for what God has said or what He thinks." Grace Based Parenting pg 214
After reading through the book, these are the points that stood out to me most:
- Parenting with grace is all about my attitude and my response to who God created my children to be and how they behave.
- Do my boys feel securely loved? Most kids will leave home feeling loved. Only some children leave feeling like no matter what they do they are loved.
- Do my boys have to compete for my love (preoccupied with other things)? OR do they feel they have to earn my love (performance = acceptance)?
- Do my boys know their significant purpose? A general purpose (perhaps to be a wisdom hunter), specific purpose (use giftedness), relational purpose (be a good friend) and spiritual purpose (teaching them God's truth).
- Do my boys have a strong hope? Am I reminding them of how God made them special and directing their strengths & weaknesses for a hopeful future?
- Am I trying to "overprotect" them from the world instead of allow them to go on a spiritual adventure...trusting God for safety.
- When my boys do something that is frustrating I need to stop and think: Did they just go against a Biblical truth? Did they sin? Or just made a mistake? Then respond accordingly.
- When I am embarrassed by my children I need to stop and think: Am I embarrassed because I look bad? Or because what they are doing is just "different" from the other kids.
- When my children have a concern do I give them the attention they need and listen to their hearts? Or do I blow it off as immaturity, not allowing them to be vulnerable.
- When my son shares his opinion do I immediately react and disagree, setting him in his place? Or do I allow him the ability to voice his opinion and help guide him to find truth?
I would highly recommend "Grace Based Parenting". It helped reframe how I see my role as a parent and helped me see my children with fresh eyes. The easy to remember "inner needs" of a child and the "four freedoms" revolutionize my day. My focus has changed from their external behavior to their hearts and our relationship.
"He chose you to assist Him in a miracle. He gave you children and then said, 'Now go, and give these precious lives meaning.'...This is when parents panic...How am I to raise up children to love and serve God? The answer is actually not that difficult. You simply need to treat your children the way God treats you. He does it in His grace."