I really hope that I’m not alone when I say that parenting is the hardest thing that I have ever done. I say that in honesty and humility. I am ashamed to say that I have misrepresented a loving God to my children with impatience, fatigue, fear, control, or manipulation at times. This is not how God parents me.
God parents me with grace. God parents me with love. God parents me with freedom.
Grace Based Parenting, by Dr. Tim Kimmel, explores these foundational truths. Using God’s parenting style as a guide and His word as our directive, Grace Based Parenting allows us to see our children as God sees them. They are flawed and forgiven, as are we.
Dr. Tim Kimmel states that every child has the following inner needs: to be secure in love, to have a significant purpose, and to have a strong hope in Christ. These particular needs are met through the four following freedoms:
- The freedom to be different
- The freedom to be vulnerable
- The freedom to be candid
- The freedom to make mistakes
After reading this book, I had to confess that I often take these freedoms away from my own children. I balk at my son wearing a batting helmet into the grocery store and I cringe when my daughter covers herself in mud and worms for the fun of it. I need to allow my children to be the individuals that God designed them to be, even if that looks like daily helmets and too many loads of laundry.
Besides allowing for the quirks, I also learned that I need to allow for their weaknesses. As a girl raised with a strong New England work ethic, I grew up learning that weaknesses were not acceptable. You try harder, you work harder, or you do things smarter. Granted, hard work is its own reward and we need to teach our children the value of it. However, we also need to teach them the value of weakness.
Dr. Kimmel writes, “Sometimes God deliberately puts things in our children’s lives that make them feel extremely fragile – and He doesn’t take them away.” Much like Paul’s thorn in his flesh, our children will grow up with an area of vulnerability. It is our responsibility to respond to that weakness with grace. In fact, grace will make all of the difference in the world. It will either allow them to identify with the weakness and be condemned by it. Or, it will allow them to identify with Christ and know that His power is made perfect in that very vulnerability.
I would highly recommend Grace Based Parenting to any parent, grandparent, children and youth ministry worker, teacher, whomever. It is one of the best books I have ever read on championing children. It is not a book of impossible lists, formulas, and/or do’s and don’ts; nor is it a book that licenses sin. It is a book that challenges the way you see the children in your homes, communities, and churches. It challenges you to see them through the lens of Christ, who parents us with grace; that we might partner with Him to do the same.
If you’re looking for a book to read in that long car ride or at the pool this summer, this might just be the one! What other books on parenting would you recommend? We would love to hear your comments, thoughts, and suggestions.