There are so many things to be mindful of as we raise our kids. And they are constantly changing. When they’re young we become focused on safety, making sure they aren’t choking on toys, riding their bike into danger, or talking to strangers. They learn and hear the word “no” a lot.
They get a little older, the boundaries a little wider, so we start focusing on more social skills and personal discipline. We help them grow good learning habits, become better friends, and take more responsibility at home. Then the teenage years hit. Again, our boundaries and hearts grow a bit bigger. We remind them of all they’ve learned before. We let them put it into practice a bit more. We walk alongside coaching, being in relationship where we can.
Graduation day comes and we hope that we have raised polite, well-mannered kids who love God. Sounds like a nice little formula. If only it were so easy. But it’s not, is it? Life is messy, and raising kids is even messier. We can teach them right from wrong, manners like please and thank you, and keep them focused to get passing grades in school. We may have polite, well-mannered children with a high school diploma, but will be have children that really know God? Will they have a relationship with Him? Will they be a people who extend grace in all they do?
My parenting style changed drastically with my oldest son. Life was hard and I was in uncharted waters with him. When he was six I started going back to church and teaching him about God. When he was in 5th grade my approach to ministry and family shifted. I continued to refine my parenting, but it was all new with him. He’s an adult and I’ve had to release Him to God’s care. Sometimes my son can be a bit gruff, not showing a lot of grace. Sometimes it’s hard to demonstrate love for him when that attitude is directed at me. Yet I look to Christ as my example and trust the filling of the Holy Spirit to extend and model grace to him. Not easy, but necessary. Because I don’t want to raise children that simply know of Jesus. Or children that have developed a relationship but fail to share it in their words and actions. I want to raise children that know God, listen for His voice, and desire to respond to Him.
I want to raise children who know Him, His word, and choose to live it out with grace.
When I truly understand the word grace, I am overwhelmed again and again. Ephesians 2:8 says “for by grace you have been saved through faith…it is the gift of God.” Because He loves us so, He chooses to bring us to life. Because of His great love for us. And when we grow in the knowledge and understanding of this love, experiencing Him in trials as well as joys, we can’t help but overflow with that love. And as we extend it to others, at times when they don’t really even deserve it, that my friends, is grace.
If I want my children to be grace-giving people, how then do I grow grace in them? Some of it is a mystery. Just as it is a mystery that the Holy Spirit dwells in and works in us. But He does. So when we as parents nurture the relationship grace can’t help but grow. Also, I strongly believe we must be modeling grace to our children. When they deserve natural consequences, sometime we must withhold them or redirect them. Easy? No. Beneficial? Yes. Guided and filled by the Holy Spirit? Absolutely.
Today I’m praying for all of us. My children, myself, you, your children. I pray that you experience grace in completely unexpected ways that fill your heart with wonder and turn your eyes to Jesus in thanks. Out of that thanks I also pray that as you raise your children you find yourself growing them in grace.