Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Parenting with Grace, Part 2

(In Part 1 of our series, we discussed the three types of mothers and introduced the topic of Grace Parenting. You can find Part 1 of this series here.)

In Part 2, I'm speaking from my heart to the more law-driven mothers. Later, we'll address the more permissive mindset and the need for balance between the two.

 If you don't fall into the first category, you might be wondering what in the world is she talking about? But I do believe some of you, like me, have been taught to parent very authoritatively, and henceforth very harshly, and can relate to every word I'm writing.

This post is for you.

I Thessalonians 2:7 says, "But we were GENTLE among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children;"

Especially notice the words gentle and cherish...can you picture in your mind a nursing mother hearing her baby cry, picking up and snuggling her helpless newborn?

Do you have this same attitude of gentleness with your 3 year old? Your 8 year old? Your teenager?

This attitude of You are a precious gift from God and I will cherish every hug, every disobedience, every victory, and every failure because YOU ARE PRECIOUS to me and to God?

Are gentleness, kindness, forgiveness, restoration, humility, and sweetness the key parenting words in your toolbox, or do you find yourself using authority, harshness, inconvenience, annoyance, discipline, and punishment more?

Keep in mind that this verse in I Thessalonians was not speaking about being gentle with children---it was a statement to the Thessalonian church---"We (the leaders, the authority) were gentle among you".  If gentleness is preferred between church leaders and church members, how much more should it be preferred between mothers and the sweet little ones God has entrusted them with?

I Corinthians 13 explains how our LOVE should be: 
longsuffering and kind, humble and unselfish, calm and slow to anger, thoughtful and considerate, rejoicing in truth, thinking no evil, and never failing. 

I will freely admit that I spent the first few years of my parenting experience applying the love principles of I Corinthians 13 to adults and not children.

Forgiveness, second chances, endurance through trials, focusing on the positive, and restoration? Wasn't that just for grown-ups?

Weren't children supposed to obey the first time, every time, no questions asked, with a smile and a "yes, ma'am" or face a swift and consistent consequence?

There was no doubt that I loved my children with every ounce of my being, that I cherished being a mother and was passionate about being involved in every aspect of training and nurturing the little ones entrusted to me. But I was focusing on the outward behavior, the instant obedience at any cost, and in the midst of my passion, my good intentions, and my deepest sincerity, I was missing this attitude of grace and I was teaching my children to live under the law in a "works" based environment where Mommy was only happy if they fulfilled my "law".

Verse 11 of I Corinthians 13 says, "When I was a child I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought  as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

Children are supposed to be childish. :)

Simple, I know. But deep, too.

Because, once again, in Jesus' kingdom, things are backwards:

*We want our children to be like adults when Jesus said He wanted the adults to be like children.*

Children are supposed to be children: They're supposed to think, act, understand, and behave like children. Lovingly, gently, and consistently trained, they WILL eventually, gradually, "put away childish things". But I've learned that obedience doesn't have to be obtained by the harshest, strict methods that some might endorse and that I once practiced.

If you're a law-minded momma like I once was (and occasionally still struggle with being), you may find your really great intentions fueled by FEAR. You know exactly what I mean---you're afraid your child will grow up and rebel against the things of the Lord, you're afraid to raise a "spoiled brat", you're afraid of what people might think, you're afraid that if you allow this behavior you'll ruin your child for life.

I was once ruled by these overwhelming fears.

They drove me to extremes in my parenting style because I was trying so hard to do everything just right.

But you know what?

Grace is extended to mommas, too. :)

I found forgiveness at the feet of my Jesus---and the strength I desperately needed to change the areas He revealed to me. Slowly, as my mindset shifted from law to grace, and my parenting style changed, I started to see the fruit I had been trying to cultivate in my children for years!

Children are alot like flowers. Flowers need rain---but they will wither and die under a harsh downpour. Children need discipline----but their spirits will wither and die under a harsh parent.

Both the flowers and the children will THRIVE under a gentle and nurturing touch.

(If you've read my blog for any length of time---or know me in real life :)---then you know I am not encouraging a child-led home with no order or discipline. I believe in teaching and training my little ones just as much as I always have. We'll touch on the practicalities of gentle Grace Parenting in a later post.)

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