Graceful Parenting

Sometimes I think I give my kids too much grace.

Or maybe I have a skewed understanding of grace. Maybe we all do.

I was so glad years ago to learn that I wasn't the only terrible mother with a terrible temper. Maybe it's just because I'm sensitive to it, but I've read about a lot of moms who have a hard time controlling their anger. And it's sad, and scary, and pretty miserable for everyone involved. I have a terrible temper; it's gotten to be a joke in our family, it's so bad. And part of the problem is my own parenting skills.

Or lack thereof. See, when I tell my kids to do something, and they don't do it, I have a tendency to "give them grace" and just tell them again. Rather than dealing with the disobedience right then. I am all about grace, giving and receiving, as you can tell from my blog title, but this "grace" I give my kids? It makes me think they owe me.

It goes something like this:

"Child, go clean up your room. Do your clothes first, then the Legos." (Because I read somewhere to give them smaller things to do.)

30 minutes later, the room is still a mess (the above didn't help), and the child is playing on the floor with the Legos. "Child, I said to clean up your room. You are disobeying, get up and start cleaning."

I gave the child "grace" right there. I didn't punish him/her for his/her disobedience. I gave the child more time to make the right decision. Does he? Does she? No. But I think they owe me for that grace. Which isn't grace at all. And because they owe me, I get even madder when it's been two hours and the room still isn't clean.

This isn't good parenting, and this isn't giving grace. I'm realizing, and trying to implement in my home, that grace is dealing with the sin when I can feel bad that he has to deal with the consequences of sinning, not waiting for the sin to drive me so crazy that I start yelling.

No, I don't want to punish them. But it's better to go ahead and punish them when I can still do so lovingly, then to get so mad that I damage our relationship.

Grace is a gift, freely given. With no strings attached. And grace is being given the opportunity to learn from our mistakes, to become more holy. God gives us grace when He teaches us. And sometimes, the lessons hurt. I've learned to quit praying for patience, because every time I do, I get a face full of stressful, late, dumb things to deal with. Patience isn't going to come easily! It's going to come when we make the decision to be patient, even especially in the face of stressful things!

The same with obedience. It is a choice. Maybe kids think the same way we do, that we don't have patience because God didn't give it to us. "God didn't make me obedient, so I just can't go clean my room." Virtues are choices. When a kid prays to be obedient, God is going to give him an opportunity to be obedient. And that's when we can start making the choice.

Now, I want to help my kids to realize it's a choice, and to make the right choice. So yes, I offer those words to the kids. "Choose now what you are going to do." But when or if the wrong choice is made, I want my kids to experience the grace of consequences. And I want to give them those consequences before I go bat crazy. Isn't it better to go ahead and deal the consequences in a loving way, than to push them back until I can't deal with it well?

I am in love with these four little people in my life. I don't want force them to obey me out of fear (because it doesn't work), I want them to obey me out of love for me. The same way I want them to obey God. And nobody loves a tyrant. You can't begrudge a fair judge, though.


  1. I am also guilty of allowing things to slide, then getting angry after I have repeated myself. Thank you for the reminder to show real grace in my parenting :-)

  2. Oh yes!! I can so totally relate to you with this. You are not alone my friend.

    We (our family) were talking in family devotions (using Keys for Kids) last evening about - how we may look okay on the outside but on the inside - our hearts can be so full of sin. It was interesting how it paralleled with our sunday sermon - too. Just reminding us, as parents, how one of our biggest sin areas is the area of patience. Patience with each other and with our kids. I can say like you... for so long... I'm patient and give grace too much and then I snap. I get angry and react rather than respond.

    Your words are encouraging here this morning - knowing I'm not alone.

    Blessings to you today!

  3. Great post, I needed to read this today, I am often guilty of letting things go until I boil over. Glad to know I'm not the only one. I have been making a real effort to deal with the problem before I lose my cool. Thank you for sharing

  4. Raising children requires such dedication and consistency on our behalf. Some times we let things slip and before you know it, your children aren't listening to you at all. I agree it is so better to deal with the issue straight away before we get angry as anger just doesn't work when dealing with children. Thank you for sharing this great post with us at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings


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