Last night my husband and I attended our first evening class of "Grace-based Parenting" by Tim Kimmel. It is conveniently being run at the same church where our kids attend AWANA, during their club meeting. So, Dan and I figured we should go for it! Not only is it a chance to be on the receiving end (doesn't happen very often when you are senior pastors) but it is also a chance for us to interact with people who don't really know us, other than as parents wanting to do a better job with our kids.
I was excited about attending the course. I know that my parenting style is fairly "Biblical", at least I feel it is, however, I know I can get caught up in all the rules and stuff I have to do, and lose some of the flavor and meaning behind it all.
We talked a lot about how we were raised as kid - because undoubtedly, people will often mirror many of the things their parents did, or they will polarize and try to be totally different! I recognised, as a I have in the past, that my parents ran a mostly authoritarian style home. We had utmost respect for my parents (especially my "Pa" as we called him) and we were not entitled to question their authority. Thankfully, they didn't abuse this power, and I believe they did the best they could with the tools they had at the time. They brought us up with a firm belief in God, and made sure church was a priority in life. However, I look back, and I think I often lost the "meaning behind it all" in some of the discipline they used. Because we were afraid of questioning - it seemed more about "doing the right thing" no matter what, and therefore I often missed the heart of the matter.
In that sense, I have tried to shift in the way I raise children. My biggest concern is to raise them to love the Lord, but to also maintain an emotional connection to my kids and stay on the "same page" in regards to their lives and how they feel.
So the class last night was really an introduction to "Grace Based Parenting". What exactly is that? They described it as "parenting the way God would parent". Ha ha... easier said than done!
What I was challenged with, however, was the idea that I need to have more humility with my kids. I truly am here to serve them - not just keep them alive and shoo them out the door once they're 18! One area that I recognised as a weakness in my life is my ability to repent when I've done wrong. I find the words "I'm sorry" very difficult to choke through. Why? I think it is because I try so hard, and hold myself to such a high standard. I don't want to screw up! I'm afraid of making mistakes, and if I start saying sorry to my children every time I rush into things or yell at them, I will be saying sorry 20 times a day!
The problem with not being willing to apologise, however, is that I am not asking for grace, and I am therefore not giving an example of repentance and graciousness. Why should I expect my children to know how to apologise if I don't apologise when I blow my top? I can preach at them all I want about kindness and controlling their tongues, but it really starts with me. I need to take ownership of my faults, in recognition that I need God's grace in my life in order to be a better parent. I need to experience God's forgiveness in the first place, in order to model and ask for grace in the lives of my children (and even my marriage).
So that is my challenge for these next couple of weeks. I am going to start saying "sorry". I will choke down my pride (sinful as it is) and acknowledge when I've been wrong. I believe that in that, God will also be able to extend his forgiveness and grace towards me, giving me an ability to change! What a miracle that will be!
Those two words just might bring about a revolution in our home.
We're taking that course with our bible study group too. It's very interesting! I'm finding some of his ideas are for older kids, and some of the 'grace' would just be too vague for toddlers who need absolutes. At least I find that it's so. The other thing that I noticed is that sometimes it's not our parenting style as much that matters, but more our attitude as we parent. Do we see these kids as a gift? Do we get them to do chores because they need the training or because I need the help? I'm finding that we can do a lot of the same things, but shifting my attitude and motivation for doing it changes the whole atmosphire. It's interesting for sure. We're almost finished that course and we're looking to start something else. It was worth it though! Nice to see you writing again too!
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