Grace in Parenting
“BUT MOM! CAN’T YOU JUST GIVE ME SOME GRACE?!”
This is a question that my kids ask me a lot. 99.9% of the time they are asking it because they want to be relieved of discipline.
See, there are times when my kids disobey or do something wrong and I gently take them in my arms and explain that I will extend them grace. You know when they’re over tired and hungry and have had a long day? And then they just lose it? This is the time to envelop your kids in love. This is the time to explain that you see them, feel for them, love them, and want to help them even though they are having a hard time. You don't hold their behavior against them.
There are other times when discipline is necessary. Like when they randomly hit their sibling or lie. After all, it is our job as parents to guide our kids to make the best choices that they can.
Discipline is the hardest part about parenting because we all want to do it right. There are also approximately 470 million books, articles, and experts in the field of child discipline (I completely made that number up and I realize it’s ridiculous, but that’s what it feels like sometimes). As soon as you read one thing that makes sense you turn around and read something else that tells you that the previous thing was incorrect. One expert’s success is another expert’s failure.
In my house, I just try to do my best. Sometimes I nail it. I separate my fighting kids, have good and deep discussions with each of them, and facilitate a reconciliation in the most hands-off way that I possibly can. Other times, my kids lose it and I lose it. I end up giving myself a time out after I lose my temper and lash out on them. I shamefully close the door to my bedroom, take some breaths, say a prayer, and remind myself that I’m the grown up.
When the latter happens, I find myself apologizing to my kids as we reconcile. In these moments I am completely honest about something I never want my kids to forget: I am not perfect.
I cannot discipline them perfectly.
I cannot parent them perfectly.
I cannot extend them grace perfectly.
I cannot even love them perfectly.
Only God can do those things. It’s not my job to even try, and as parents we need to release ourselves from that pressure. That means we personally accept God’s grace and we pray that our kids will too. Because it is only in understanding God’s perfect grace that we can extend each other a genuine (though imperfect) grace. God’s grace is the grace that forgives us of our wrongdoings, welcomes us into His family, and gives us unconditional love and peace.
So what are some things that we can do to help our kids understand grace?
We have to communicate and listen to God if we want to a have a real, meaningful relationship with Him. Start praying with your kids now, while they are young, and it will become part of their daily habits. Browse through our site to find fun and easy ways to pray with your kids throughout your day.
2. Read the Bible
God gave us a guidebook to grace. We can literally read His Word and learn about His grace whenever we want. How great is that?! The Bible is filled with stories of imperfect people making mistakes and God covering them with His grace. He forgives them and loves them and they follow Him. Get in the Word and let it sink into your heart. Memorize some scripture so you can recite it to yourself and your kids. Helpful hint: we send out a monthly verse to memorize in our e-mails so if you’re not already a subscriber to this site, go ahead and sign up!
3. Read age appropriate books
There are so many books out there to teach your kids about who God is. My early grade school kids still love reading some of the board books I read to them as babies because they are filled with such simple truths! Check out different children’s Bibles as well. Here is a small list to get you started, but we will be sharing more of our favorites in the coming months:
Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones
I am: 40 Reasons to Trust God by Diane M. Stortz
One Year Devotions for Preschoolers by Crystal Bowman
God Knows You by Michelle Medlock Adams
4. Model grace as best as you can
Again, we can’t do this perfectly. But try to model the concept of grace to your kids. Teach them about confession and forgiveness. Talk about the grace that God gives us. Make this part of the language that you use at home.
5. Be active in your faith
Research tells us time and time again that what our kids see and learn at home matter. Your faith matters to your children’s faith. Kids who have parents who are active in their faith are more likely to have a faith that lasts themselves. Research aside, we can’t do any of this alone. The days that I ignore God are some of my hardest parenting days: I lose my temper, I get exhausted, my patience is tested, and I don’t have the same level of motivation. We need to lean on God to parent with a Kingdom mindset. Seek after Him, run to Him with your parenting concerns, when you have a problem drop to your knees in prayer before reaching for your phone (I’m working on this!). God promises us that He will give us the strength to do hard things and that includes parenting!