Thursday, October 13, 2011

Grace Based Parenting, Chapter 2 review

In chapter 2 Dr. Tim Kimmel gives several examples of what graced based parenting is not. He begins with a terrific true story of C. S. Lewis who went to a gathering of great minds of men who were pondering what it was that made Christianity different. Lewis said, "Oh, that's easy. It's grace." Then Kimmel shares "If God our heavenly father is the perfect father and the primary way that He deals with us as humans is through the power of grace, it stands to reason that grace forms the best template for bringing out the best in our own children."

A close friend of mine recently shared the struggle of parenting a grown child who walks away from standards that he was raised with. I know that struggle myself. I cannot help but say that we all do what her son is doing. We all knowingly walk right into sin. We walk away from what we know is right. Whether it's to gossip... to lie... to cheat... to give in to anger... to commit adultery. One person's sin isn't worse than another's. God's grace covers each one of us and our Father is right there for us when we cry out to Him. So it was that Kimmel's words on page 30 spoke to me: "It's His grace that loves us when we're being foolish, or stubborn, or selfish or mean-spirited." If we accept this grace from God and fail to extend it to our children then we risk their rejecting our own faith. Kind of like hearing, "Do as I say, not as I do".

Most of this chapter evaluates a couple of main responses to the idea of grace and parenting. One side tends to stick to strict rules and harsh consequences while ignoring grace and the other side ignores shortcomings and wrongdoing and justifies that by claiming to be offering grace. The rules and tough consequence type parents may claim "Parents preoccupied with grace are just pushovers who don't want to teach their kids to obey..." I loved the quote of Philip Yancey used regarding being so rule oriented as a parent. "You can know the law by heart without knowing the heart of it." And for those pushover parents? "A family without clearly defined rules and standards could never be a grace-based family. It's too busy being a nightmare to live in." We are admonished that grace is not an excuse not to parent.

I must confess that I have personally experienced both sides of this issue. I know that I have worked through these two vastly different sides over the past 21 years of being a mom. Memories of me being a harsh mom hurt my heart. And memories of being the mom who ignored faults and sinful behaviors because it was easier than dealing with them haunt me, too. I am really excited to see where Kimmel goes from here. I am hungry for the applications of grace combined with structure and consequence.

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