Monday, October 1, 2012

Parenting with Grace, Part 1

(This post was initially meant to be Part 5 in my Finding JOY in Motherhood series....but due to its length, I've decided to just start a new series on this subject.)

By way of introduction....

Let’s say tomorrow you have a really bad morning. You wake up late and forget to have your devotions. During the morning rush, you snap at your husband when he asks you to make his lunch. Can’t he just make his own lunch for once? The dog spills his water, the toddler has more breakfast on his shirt and the floor than he does in his tummy, the four year old is shouting, “Mommy, there’s no toilet paper and I went number TWWWOOO!” and a battle over clothes is about to ensue with your teenager. You feel yourself hitting your breaking point, and you react angrily to your circumstances by yelling at everyone. Your guilt is immediate, but your pride is having a hard time admitting that you’re wrong, so you sulk for a while.

It’s only then that you realize your best friend has been sitting on the couch the whole time, observing your behavior. She chooses that moment to say, “Oh, my goodness. You are such a bad wife and mother! You nag your husband, yell at your children, and look at this house! It’s a pig sty! I bet you haven’t cleaned it in a month. And don’t get me started on your attitude. It’s lousy. Quite frankly, you’ll probably never be a godly wife and mother and I’m sick of being your friend.”

Sound like grace?

I don't think so. :)

Now, think how you would feel if your friend said these words instead....."Oh, my. It looks like yu're having a rough day. I bet you could use a hug. Being a godly wife and mother is hard and I know how badly you want to do a good job. Why don't I pray with you and then I'll watch the children for an hour while you take a little break, regroup and come again?"

What response would you rather receive at the hand of someone you love?

Today, we're going to begin a series on a subject that is near and dear to my heart.

I've eluded before on my blog the paradigm shift that occurred in my parenting style a few years ago.

You see, during the years of infertility we experienced before our first child was born, I spent hours upon hours researching Christian parenting and reading every book I could get my hands on about the subject.

Several of the most well-known Christian parenting experts promised that if I would just do A plus B, I'd get C-----the well-behaved children I desired to have.

Well-behaved, godly children.

Yes, that's what I wanted!

I was willing to do anything if it meant having my children love God and obey me. I was literally 100 percent consistent. I constantly looked for ways to train my children. I disciplined frequently, often for minor issues. I won every "battle", no matter the cost.

My heart was in the right place---I wanted to be the very best mother I could be!

But, sadly, I was missing what I now believe to be the most important aspect of good Christian parenting and disclipline:


Parenting With Grace

I like to think there are three kinds of mothers.

There are those who parent by the law, those who parent by permissiveness, and those who parent by grace.

Let me explain.

The mother who parents by the law is a determined momma. She wants to raise up a godly seed, and goes after her children’s behaviors with passion.

This mother keeps the rod handy and uses it frequently.

She has devoured every parenting manual that exists in the hopes of doing it all "right".

She often feels like a failure when her "consistent parenting" doesn't result in "perfect" children.

Yet not one sin goes unnoticed, not one disobedience goes unpunished. She has set herself up as the authority in her children’s lives, her rules are many, her goal, seemingly perfection.

Her standards for her children are commendably high yet her methods are rigid and authoritative. She lives in fear that if she loses a “battle” with her child, she has lost the “war” and ultimately, her success as a parent is based on her children’s performance.

The mother who parents by the law desires obedience above relationship and her goal is to make her children obey.

At the other extreme is the permissive mother.

She also wants to raise up godly children, but lacks the motivation to establish a plan. Her children have few rules, little structure, and even less discipline.

Intimidated by the work involved in parenting her children, the permissive mother finds it easier to avoid “battles” altogether by allowing the children excessive freedom.

The mother who parents with permissiveness desires relationship above obedience and remains continually frustrated that her children won't obey.

The balanced mother is the one who parents with grace towards her children.

 She realizes that obedience without relationship is merely OUTWARD compliance and that relationship without obedience is destructive to the child’s moral conscience and ultimately, their walk with the Lord.

This mother has experienced the amazing, forgiving grace through salvation in Jesus Christ and seeks to lovingly extend the same grace to her children by teaching them obedience in the midst of a gentle, nurturing, loving environment. 

She is quick to forgive and offer second chances.

She does not expect her children to reach perfection and is not shocked by their "childishness" nor offended by their mistakes.

Her goal is to help her children obey.
I realize that there are many parents who struggle more with the need to discipline their children than the over-use of discipline on their children. The goal of this series is emphasize the need for a BALANCE between the two extremes.
Are forgiveness, grace, second-chances, mercy, gentleness, respect, and kindness ONLY for adults? Next time, we'll look at what the Bible says about GRACE. Then I will share how this Grace Parenting came about in our family and our new approach to child-training since our shift in mindset towards our children. 


  1. Selina, I'm really looking forward to hearing what you have to share in this area. My journey sounds similar to yours. I struggle to be a balanced grace giver sometimes. Such a journey! I look at my eldest all the way to my youngest and remember my early failures. I certainly need God's grace too!

  2. I'm not sure which one of those I am. I think I am number 3.
    Funny thing is, I am not sure because I have rarely had discipline problems with my children....and I have 4. Of course they are not perfect, but its a rare occasion that I have to raise my voice. So maybe I am parent 2? But we seriously very rarely have issues, and when we do we talk about it, and seem to learn from it. A simple "Jesus doesn't like it when we are angry at each other" or " Are you having a bad day, come sit on my lap" usually fixes the issue of the moment.
    Just thinking out loud here, LOL

  3. Oh my, I definitely lean towards #1. So very much of what you said reminded me of myself. ugh. Looking forward to your future posts on this topic...surely I need it.

  4. I can't wait to read about GRACE parenting. I am so happy that I found your blog. I am your newest follower. I would love it if you followed me back!


  5. Grace in our dealings with each other is important, whether it's in our day to day interactions with our families, or with others in our community. In my many years of parents I've found that my children are very seldom disobedient just for the sake of disobedience. There is almost always some underlying issue involved, be it a misunderstanding with a sibling, to being overtired, ill or dealing with hurt feelings. Adults are the same way for the most part.

    Mom's have bad days too. Instead of beating ourselves up over it, it's a good idea to extend that grace to ourselves.

  6. Where is the comment button for your whole blog/life rather than just a single post? In fertility aside, we have so much in common! 4 bios + 3 more from half way across the world in only 2 trips. I THINK there will be 1 more in our mix someday. An older kiddos this time (not sure if that means 4-6 or 11-13 or somewhere in between, but I'm so glad to stumble here and see all that you have.
    New follower here. You've got me hooked,
    nancy-of the crazy 9

  7. OMG-I'm mommy number 1! God is really doing something different in me- as I learn to understand His amazing love, grace, and mercy towards me-I can finally give it away!! Your blog is truly an answered prayer for me- I've been so asking God to help me train my child in the way he should go- I've been trying so hard- and I thank God for you! Please continue to share your wisdom, and experiences with us mommies!


I welcome any and all comments as long as they are Christ-honoring. Please let me know what you think!