Cheryl and I have attempted to implement grace parenting in our home. Grace parenting is parenting children the way God parents us. If God leads us by grace, shouldn’t we lead our children by grace? This does not mean that we let them do whatever they want to do. It doesn’t mean there are no rules in my house. It doesn’t mean we release them to sin, or even that we expect them to sin. The apostle Paul dealt with these same concerns regarding grace living. (Romans 6:1-2) To the contrary, I actually believe grace parenting has led to a stronger walk with the Lord for each of the boys.
I have developed some steps that help us to think through parenting by grace. Consider them for your own family and see if they are appropriate, recognizing that each child is unique and may require a different approach in some areas.
Here is my parenting model, Parenting by Grace:
Set clear boundaries. Children need to know what is expected of them and what the limits are. They will test these, when they do, enforce the boundaries, but do it with grace.
Recognize the individuality of the child. Some children require more structure than others do. Make sure the boundaries set are appropriate for the needs of the child. One of our boys needs more structure than the other boy. His boundaries have to be more defined. He also needs illustrations to help explain to him the boundaries.
Major on the majors, not the minors. There should be some items, which everyone understands are non-negotiable items. We tend to let these be moral or Biblical issues, such as lying, cheating, disrespect, etc. If the issue affects the child’s character, then it is a major issue. These major issues are handled sternly and thoroughly, but still with love. The minor issues, issues, which do not affect the child’s character, are not to be ignored, but they can be handled less severely. This will eliminate much of the “nagging” children often feel parents do.
Consider the heart. Always try to determine the reasons behind your child’s actions before deciding on discipline. A pure heart should be treated differently from a rebellious heart. Remember you are trying to mould a character for life. Scripture says that we should monitor and protect the heart above everything else. (Proverbs 4:23)
Give multiple chances and forgive easily. God has given me so many chances. Shouldn’t I do the same for my children? After punishment is applied, make sure the child understands why they were punished. You may not be able to fully explain at the time, but go back to the child afterwards to make sure you have not broken their spirit or closed their heart to you. They should always know that you love them, even when they have done something wrong. Give love liberally, just as God gives to us.
If your children are living within the boundaries, then be a “fun” parent. Let them see you having a good time with them. We wanted our boys to honestly be able to say they live in a fun house, while at the same time we can look at their character being molded into the image of Christ.
Our boys quickly learned the concept of grace as they grew in our home. They understand that we were holding them to high standards, but that we would extend lots of grace.
What’s your parenting plan or model?