God’s grace is a wonder unlike any other mankind has seen. As parents, we understand this, and we hope that one day our children will understand it, too.
While the messages and lessons taught in church help to guide our daily lives, it is not words that incline people to repentance. Rather, like Jesus demonstrated, it is action. If we want our children to realize and react to God’s grace in a way we deem “appropriate,” we need to do as He did and treat them with unassuming kindness. Grace begins in the home and, more specifically, with these four freedoms.
The Freedom To Be Candid
A home is a child’s safe space, a place where he or she feels most comfortable and surrounded by unconditional love … at least, it should be. In grace-based homes, children should be able to be completely and unabashedly themselves. This begins with the ability to be candid about anything and everything that bothers them.
What, though, do kids need to be candid about? A lot, actually.
For starters, as children learn and grow, there will undoubtedly come a time when they begin to doubt their faith. While you may be tempted to call in your pastor and tell your child the millions of reasons he or she is wrong, don’t. Plenty of devout Christians have questioned their faith at some point, you probably being one of them. Yet God pulled them through those periods of doubt without outside intervention. Don’t jam your theology down your child’s throat when he or she expresses doubt — just be there as a sounding board and wait for the child to come around.
The Freedom To Be Themselves
There will come a time when your child wants to pierce her nose or dye his hair or wear outrageous clothing. You may be tempted to tell your child to “act normal” or “dress appropriately” when out in public, but acting on your temptation can drive a wedge not only between yourself and your child, but between God and your child.
People are made to be different, something parents in grace-based homes realize. Bizarre, weird, quirky, strange and goofy are all terms grace-based parents not only accept but embrace. Jesus does not care about the color of a person’s hair or people cover their bodies in tattoos, and you shouldn’t either. Instead, you should do like God does and embrace the unique eccentricities in each of God’s children, starting with your own.
The Freedom To Make Mistakes
Let’s be clear — grace does not lower the standard. It just gives parents the power to convey that regardless of the mistakes their children make, they will always be there for them. Grace-based parenting also reassures children that when they do inevitably make an error in judgment, they will still have the unconditional love of their parents and of God. When your children mess up, let them know that there will be consequences but that the consequences are in place to help them learn and grow — not to embarrass or guilt them into good behavior.
The Freedom To Be Vulnerable
Finally, children in grace-based homes know that they can express their feelings and emotions without fear of being attacked or belittled. Children, like adults, need to know that their feelings are validated by those they love — even if they express those feelings in a dramatic way.
When you give your children these four freedoms, and when you parent with kindness, you provide a firsthand glimpse of God’s grace. More importantly, you help them to understand, both in their hearts and minds, just how truly wonderful God’s grace is.