I’m going to start by saying parenting with grace is something I desire to do, not something I am already good at. This is something the Lord has been working on in me for the full 3.5+ years I have been a parent. And I’m still not very good at it, nor do I anticipate perfecting the art in just the few years I have as a mother with children living under my roof. I do not claim to be good at this concept but the Lord has been telling me to try to write about it, so here it goes.
I desire to parent with grace. I really want to be patient, long suffering, and understanding of where my children are coming from in regards to age and their own understanding of the world. And I want to extend forgiveness. But that is not my nature. No, my nature is to do what I just did — go into a room with 2 kids who are playing instead of sleeping. Fuss at the 3 year old for loosing something, give her a cheap substitute and leave.
I often find myself fussing at the kids (3.5 and 1.5 years). I say things like “if you had just obeyed we wouldn’t be dealing with XYZ, would we? You need to follow my instructions” or “because I said so.” Then I hear this voice saying “mm-hmm, seems like I’ve been saying that for a while, too. Just obey, and things will be easier. You don’t have to understand.” I find myself just wanting to hush that voice. “nobody asked You. You don’t understand, this is the third time today we have dealt with this. Why don’t You tell THEM that?!” All such hate filled thoughts. Then I hear that voice say “but I forgive you of much bigger things than a lost paci, or a spilled drink. All I ask is that you go and forgive others too.”
Y’all that voice…that nagging conscience of the Spirit can be such a frustration. I want to yell. I want to throw my own fit. And I often do. I’ve been back in that room with those 2 non-sleeping kids three more times now. I still haven’t found the lost paci. I’m still fussing. And, yes, I have made it clear that if she had slept instead of playing, the paci wouldn’t have been lost in the first place. That’s how I handle these situations. The problem is learning to handle them with grace. Learning to go back and not yell. To calmly remind her that a screaming fit isn’t helping, and that this time she does have to take the consequences for her actions and that means she doesn’t get back the thing that she lost on her own.
You see that’s the hang up. I can not raise children to release to the world as adults, if I have let them grow up without the consequences of their actions. I have to discipline. I have to tell them things are their fault and that obeying me and dad will mean fewer consequences. Just like it is true that the more I obey my Father the fewer messes I will find myself in. So, what is the balance? When do I extend grace and say, “you know what, you goofed. Big time. Let’s fix it, together.” And when do I say “no. This is on you. You chose to do your own thing, figure this out.”
My kids are small. Many of their peers don’t even have any chores yet, and here I am trying to figure out when to let them suffer from their own actions, and when not to. I don’t know. I don’t know now; but if I do know if I don’t start trying to figure it out now I will be in a lot more trouble, when they are older and the things they do wrong are much bigger deals than spilling milk.
I’m not saying my kids (or yours) should be given a free ride. All I’m saying is my Father has forgiven me of much bigger offenses than the things I get so upset about. My children can’t learn to accept God’s forgiveness if I never teach them how to accept my own. They can’t learn to forgive if I don’t model that behavior. I have to show them these things, because just like it isn’t my nature to forgive and peacefully handle upsets with grace; it isn’t in their nature either.
Lord, teach me to parent with grace. Your grace; because I have none on my own.