Grace. We believers often think about it chiefly in the terms of Ephesians 2:8-9 (and rightly so), but rarely in the terms of parenting. However, aside from grace being the unmerited favor of God, freely given to sinners like you and me, it also means: a controlled, polite, and pleasant way of behaving, and showing mercy to someone (as God does to us, and that can only be carried out through the Spirit of God).
As I’d learn years down the road of my parental journey, this concept of grace is crucial in the upbringing of our children.
For many of us (especially we single moms), control is imperative. And I don’t mean that in a negative way, as some parents can take the word way out of control. What I mean is that we want our rules followed, our orders obeyed, and to be respected as the one in charge. When our children don’t quite do these things, as we expect them to, we tend to become agitated, annoyed, angered, and wonder, “Why can’t they just do what you ask them to, the first time?” We may even express this annoyance—verbally and nonverbally—to our children (I don’t know about you, but I certainly have).
But one day, as I was getting ready to reprimand my son for something (I don’t remember what it was now), I sensed God urging me to remember grace, the same grace He extends to me when I don’t get it right (because many days, I don’t get it right!).
Ouch! That stung, but it was truth, and that truth helped me to become a better, more understanding parent.
It’s so easy to forget that our children are little humans, like we are, with personalities, like we have. When we have a bad day, or forget to do something of importance, we want others, especially God, to be understanding and forgiving toward us. However, when our children forget, or move slowly in completing a task we’ve assigned, we (sometimes) go up in flames (especially if our day has already been trying). But, this should not be. We can’t rejoice that God doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, but as soon as our children make the smallest mistake, go beyond—punishment or attitude wise—what they deserve.
As hard as it may be for us to grasp, that’s hypocritical, and we have to do better as parents representing Jesus to our children.
Now understand, this isn’t saying that if your young child pushes his sibling down the stairs (or commits some other horrendous act), or your teenager comes home with a tattoo, or a piercing you have forbidden, or gets locked up for reckless driving that you aren’t to discipline them (or to even feel a twinge of anger). Because you are. You have a duty to train them (Proverbs 13:24; 22:15; 29:15).
Nevertheless, even when disciplining for trouble on a “grand” scale, we must remember to season our words (and actions) with grace. Because if we’ll be honest with ourselves, there are times when our actions deserve major consequences, possibly even death, but instead of extending His arm of wrath toward us, God extends His love, grace, and forgiveness, and gives us another chance to get it right.
That said, sisters, in everything we do, let us imitate the actions of Christ (Ephesians 5:1-2). Although parenting may seem to you like a minute/miniscule task within this huge realm of “purpose” being perpetuated by our society, one that seemingly wouldn’t require real, biblical principles and knowledge, that is not the case. Parenting is a big, meaningful, and purpose-filled task; it’s a great honor (Psalm 127:3); and you should be thankful that God chose you to carry it out.
Love & Grace