This month I have been learning a lot about grace. We have been talking in church about giving and receiving grace. This is a topic of discussion in MOPS, and I started studying the book Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel. And I have been finding these lessons extremely helpful in my everyday life.
I believe, as parents, we need to receive grace daily. I don’t know about you, but I make mistakes as a parent every day. And I am learning that I can either live feeling guilty about it, or accept that I am human, receive the grace that God offers, and try to learn from those mistakes. I am also learning that I need to show my kids grace daily. They make mistakes too.
Dr. Kimmel talks in his book about raising strong vs. safe kids. (For a great illustration of this, you may want to dive into the post, How to be a Grace-Based Parent.) As parents in general, and especially as Christian parents, we may be prone to well-meaning but misguided attempts to keep our kids safe. I’ll own up to that. I am surprised to say I can be a “helicopter mom.” I spend a lot of time and energy worrying about my kids. And often, as a result, I put rules into place in our home that are meant to keep our kids safe. And there is nothing wrong with that–most of the time. Having a rule that your 3-year-old cannot cross the street alone is a GREAT rule.
However, as parents, I am learning that we must be cautious to keep a middle ground on rulemaking. If we lapse into a rulemaking frenzy, we teach our kids that the world is a dangerous place rather then a beautiful place. We teach them that objects, things, people, and places are to be feared rather than to trust in themselves to make wise decisions. And they decide that ultimately, that God is not powerful enough to protect them. I don’t know about you, but that is NOT the lesson I ever want to teach my kids!
Rather, I want my kids exposed to places, people, things, and ideas of this world. This is why grace-based parenting is such a powerful parenting win. On that inevitable day, when they become adults, I want them to walk out with confidence in themselves, in their family, and in God. I want them to have an inner strength to be naive, timid, or easily influenced. Because, rather than hovering over to protect them, we kept a watchful eye on the way they were exposed to things on the lessons they learned as children. Because we allowed them to explore and ask questions and created a learning environment where they were loved unconditionally and were free to express themselves.
Will I continue to have rules in our home? YES. I will be vigilant to not allow the pendulum to swing to an “anything goes” mentality. But I will be putting more thought into the way that we handle rules and discipline in our home. Always seeking to find that middle ground so that our girls walk confidently hand in hand with us and with God throughout their lives. How are you practicing grace-based parenting in your home? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.
Finally, for more great blended family insights, be sure to check out Jenny’s thoughts on becoming mom and stepmom. We know that step-parents have an important job and a difficult one. Know that we are cheering you on 100 percent!