“For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves.” (Ephesians 2:8) Wow that verse just sums it up. We are all children of God and extended grace, not by our own good works, but through the cross. If God the creator of all things can extend grace to those least deserving, who are we not to extend grace to our children? We are faced with the daily decision to choose grace or conflict. How often we chose grace will determine what type of parent our children will remember when they are grown. Looking back over the years we will also remember what type of parent we were and whether grace showed up more than conflict. Let us choose to be more Christ-like and extend grace to our children on a daily basis.
Here are 7 ways to parent with grace:
- Communicate clearly with your children: It is easy to get upset with your children when they are acting out, but many times there aren’t clear boundaries set. If you haven’t told your child they can’t stomp their feet when their angry, they don’t know. In order to extend grace, you must set clear boundaries with what is appropriate and what isn’t. Teach your children tools when they are angry, explain consequences, and establish rules together. Diligently teach your children, this is a constant that must be remembered as you parent. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 shows that this isn’t needed during times of correction, this is an important part of communication with your children that must be shared diligently “when you talk with them, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, when you rise up”.
- Remember each child is different: When we see a perfectly behaved child sitting at the restaurant while our child is crawling under the table screaming, we have to remember that every person is different. No child is perfect, and though we may think we see a perfect child, we must remember we don’t know that child’s struggles along the way. A wonderful way to help recognize the differences in children (and adults) is to learn their Love Language. It brings about a better understanding and some clarity as to why children react differently to the same situations. It will help you learn specific ways to love your children, in the way God designed them and help you understand their differences.
- Think about your child’s feelings: When we put ourselves in the shoes of someone else, we tend to see things differently. When you get mad at something your child did, put yourself in their shoes; think about how their feeling. Empathy can really change the way you respond to any situation. Feelings are important but it is also important to understand that feelings are also based on maturity level. How mature a child (or adult) is in his or her walk with the Lord will dictate how they respond to any situation. As parents we must offer grace and remember to take into consider the maturity of the child we are with.
- Pray for patience: Often times this is the response given when someone says, “pray for patience” – “When you pray for patience, you will be given more opportunities to be patient.” Implying that God will dump more moments where you must BECOME patient. Let’s unpack this for a minute though. Patience is a wonderful quality to have and is often used as one of the Spiritual Fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). IF anything, our children need us to be patient with them. Growing up is HARD and needs patience AND grace.
- Encourage them often: Life isn’t all about discipline and consequences. God encourages us along the way. Just as we are encouraged, we, too, should encourage our children. When you see your child sharing with their sibling, telling the truth when they could have lied, or confessing to a sin, encourage them for the good they did. Point out what you want their character to be like, you will help build their character in grace through Christ. In Ephesians 4 we are told that we should not grieve the Holy Spirit and in verse 29 it says this, “let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart GRACE to the hearers.” Build your children up with good words of encouragement instead of tearing them down with criticisms.
- Wait to give a punishment: It is always important to give your kids consequences when they do something wrong, but if you are angry, walk away and let your child know you have to think about their consequence. Not only does this give you time to cool down, but it give your child to think about what they did. Find a passage in the Bible that explains the sin, and give your child a consequence that fits the act. Always punish in love, not in anger. 2 Timothy 4:2 says that we should always be ready to preach the Word, in season and out of season. Specifically he says, “convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” In part telling us that we are to have the Word ready on our lips and know what needs corrected according to the Word. So, next time a moment of correction comes about, take a moment to reflect on the sin and not just the behavior. Lovingly dole out punishment, essentially fitting the punishment to the sin.
- Have Fun Together: When you are in your child’s life, everything else is that much easier. Play together, walk together and talk together as a family. When you are home with your children, be home with them and make them a priority. You want your child to enjoy spending time with you and making you a part of their life, so you can share grace. Happy memories are vital for children. Spend good quality time with them whenever you can.
We are all human and we all make mistakes. Our grace will never outweigh the grace God has given us. As we parent, we will make mistakes, but the important thing is to learn from those mistakes and teach our children through them. We also must learn to ask forgiveness from our mistakes, offering one more opportunity to teach Biblical Principles in action.
Grace is offered to us without condition, we must learn to offer it the same way to our children.
In His Grace,