grace

Grace-filled Parenting

July 14, 2011, 0 Comments

I have found myself making a journey few days ago for the sole quest of seeking mercy. It was an actual 3-hour journey end to end. I was inundated with the mission the very moment I’m up from my bed. Dressing up, walking to the bus-stop, and all along the journey, there is only one thing on my heart. Seek mercy.

The story was that I was waiting to sign up for a particular class which I was so looking forward to, only to find out that I had missed the deadline and hence my registration was rejected. Not once, not twice, but three times. I knew I was not going to be accepted the first time I tried. Still, to be sure I gave my all, I tried the second and third time.

Do we know when our children has tried their best, but their best is still not good enough?

Throughout that entire journey, I had one passage in mind and one word.

The passage is about the story of a landowner who paid the SAME WAGES to the labourers who started work before 9am and those who worked from 5pm. (Matthew 20)

The word is, RECKLESS.

I knew I do not deserve it. But would I be accorded the same grace the landowner so readily dispensed?

God also showed himself dispensing reckless grace in Galations 4:4-7
4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[a] 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[b] Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

Not worth it. Not fair, one would say. Grace is out-of-proportioned generosity.
And while we were sinners, we were adopted to be His sons (and daughters).

Translated in our own homes, it would look like this “Even when you did something wrong, or was disrespectful, I still love you.”

Families who have had 4 yr-olds and up knows that a child can display disrespect by his body language and their speech, especially if he was eloquent & expressive.

We would have to watch our tone of voice and actions so that it speaks louder than our words itself. There will be no hint of dis-owning our kids, although relatively speaking, there are times we would want to walk away from the situation so that we will not be tempted to give up/disown/abandon the child even for a temporal moment. (It happens!)

And because grace is so radically reckless, most of us don’t live life that way, let alone parent that way! It would be kinda’ hard when we are called to activate grace.

Reckless living requires courage. Courage comes from waiting for the Lord. Psalm 31:24 “Be strong, and let your heart take courage. All you wait for the Lord”

Most of us, parents, live from hour to hour without ever pausing to wait upon the Lord. Someone once said something to the effect, “It is in our kneel that we learn to stand in the world.” If we are a full time parents, most of our ‘world’ would be in our homes. The sphere of culture we are called to influence would be a place in our family, our homes. How much time do we spend in God’s presence?

I have a favorite saying just so I can practise God’s presence in me, “Even in my rest, I give myself to God.” Someone said, “Christianity is not thinking less of ourselves, it is thinking of ourselves less.”

Grace works in a way that is not earned. If my child is in the midst of doing something and he spills the drink in the process, dirties the floor in the process, knocks another child’s tower down accidentally, we would still praise him (his efforts). Grace is not performance-driven.

Grace is not permissive parenting. It is not saying yes to chocolate bars and lollipops and endless buffet or television watching even though our kids are not hungry, have not had their lunch or are just pure greedy or restless.

Often we use words like “Why are you so greedy?” or “Why are you so disrespectful?” or “why are you so unkind?” In doing so, we call out an identity which puts the sinner and the sin as one. It does look like we dislike the sin, as well as the sinner isn’t it?

Grace (God) recognizes sins, crucifies them, but loves the sinners. Instead, we could say to our kids, “yucks! That was a spirit we don’t want, let’s ask God to yank it out!”
“Let’s go ask God to pull this selfishness out and put in some kindness”
“Let’s ask God to pull out disrespectful speech and put in some polite words.”
Pull out the weeds, nurture the plant. We use the scriptures later on to reinforce the learning process as well.

Grace shows up in a thousand ways we express love, so that our kid learns to obey us, not because he is fearful of a punishment to come. He loves us and should understands the consequence of disobedience. We only need to show love as often as we can; playing, bonding, laughing, cuddling, tickling,etc. So simple, so needful.

Grace leaves room for God to deal with a child’s heart and for a courageous parent to step aside and let God be God.

Sometimes, it involves throwing a banquet for a prodigal son who has squandered away his wealth and have had his share of hardship, now turned back. Do we have the courage to give grace the way our Father does to us? It is telling our toddler that the floor is slippery and yet he steps onto it and have a fall, and we take him in his arms and comfort him.

Grace assumes that the child knows right from wrong in order that he appreciates the fact he is embraced in the face of folly. (Toddlers are still learning right from wrong)

As parents of toddlers, what we don’t do are as important as what we do. We must consciously reject the culture of slavish fear in the households. Rules are laws to protect us, but it does not change us. Never bribe, nor threaten. It creates fear.

Never use performance or behavioral compliance as a benchmark for which they can earn our love. Love them like crazy not because they shared their toys or clean their bikes well. Love them not how cute they are or how eloquently they spoke. Praise them for a job well done but keep relationship central to the Why’s they obey. “Obey your parents in the Lord, for it is right” Ephesians 6:1

Have fun parenting!

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