Thursday, May 12, 2016

Parenting by Grace

I went to a home-school conference once and listened to a husband and wife share about parenting with grace. It was a lovely talk and I wanted to try to implement what they were suggesting, but there seemed to be nothing to hang your hat on. Nothing solid. I left unchanged, not really understanding how my parenting might become more grace filled.

During this time period I also read a book called, "Shepherding Your Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp. This book strongly influenced how I desired to parent. I wanted to be more concerned about the motives/heart of my child than just focusing on behaviors. I wanted to speak truth to the inner man, not merely look good to outsiders.

However, when I finished the book, I still felt a lot like I had at the grace parenting seminar: "Yes, this is what I want. This is how I will parent. Now, how do I do that?"

Quite honestly, it left me questioning almost every parenting move I made.

"Am I focusing just on the behavior here?"

"What's really going on in the heart?"

"How on earth do I address that? Change that? Fix that?"

"Am I being too harsh? Is this a moment to offer grace?"

I was confused and frustrated much of the time. Whether my kids knew this or not, I don't know. But I knew it. I felt it. I lived it. And it was exhausting.

I thought the problem was with the teaching and with the book. I thought they really didn't do a good job of outlining how to follow this model. Where was the checklist? Where was the poster for the refrigerator? This whole grace thing proved very elusive.


Turned out the problem was with me. I didn't know how not to be worried about what others thought of my parenting. I didn't know how to listen to the Holy Spirit leading me. I had crazy high expectations for behavior that often didn't fit what my kids were truly capable of. I had an almost zero tolerance for any misbehavior because if I let something slip by, I was a slacker parent. It didn't occur to me that never letting anything slip by meant I was an overzealous control freak parent.

So, how on earth does the control freak parent learn to practice parenting by grace?

The answer is so simple, it will amaze you: You fail. And fail. And then you fail again. Then, when you finally think you've worked out the system or solved the problem, you fail yet again.

 This is called God's grace gift to you.

Because if you succeed in the mentality that "I will make these children turn out right," you might become an arrogant know-it-all. (And God wants you to have some friends.)

God is so concerned about your motives/heart that He allows you to see your own downfall, your own shortcomings, your own helplessness. He wants you to seek grace for yourself, especially in the world of something you thought you could master and probably do better than anyone had ever done. That self righteousness has to receive the deathblow. God has promised that He resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Nobody wants to fail and be brought low, but everyone wants the grace.

 But you can't have the grace without the failure.

So, get the book by Tedd Tripp. Read it. It is really good stuff. Go to parenting seminars on parenting with grace. They are awesome.

Jesus said, "It is not the well who need a physician, but the sick." Do you need a doctor? The perfect parent doesn't. It is the weak, the broken, and the failing who get grace. Sign me up for that.