Grace in Parenting

Grace in Parenting

"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16

….when my young grandchildren have trouble sharing with one another, I tell them I know what that’s like because I have trouble sharing as well…….Now rather than shaming my grandchildren by saying things like, “I can’t believe you’re so selfish not to share your toys!” I can say, “I know what it’s like to feel as if I have to have something to be happy. When we know we should share but don’t want to, we can go to Jesus, who loves sinners, and ask for his grace.
— Elyse Fitzpatrick, Good News for Weary Women

Sure, we can get outward compliance by shaming our kids, but that is all that it will be.  Shame is not the same as repentance.  It’s grace that brings about a heart change.  I love the practical example, above, from Elyse, which shows what applying grace to our parenting can look like in daily life.   Here’s another example.

In Saturate, by Jeff Vanderstelt, a story is told about a time when a houseguest observed, as Caleb, Jeff’s child, was confronted after doing something wrong.  Caleb ran up the stairs, and Randy, the houseguest, thought, “Caleb, you had better run fast because you are going to get hit!”  That was all he knew.  But something different happened instead.  As told by Jeff, 


Caleb,” I said, “you don’t have to run away! I love you, son! You don’t have to hide. You are safe with me.” I pulled him to close to me. At first, Caleb was afraid. He knew he had done wrong. In that moment, I reminded him that Jesus had already died for his sin.

The story went on to explain a teaching moment, about not needing to cover up or be afraid, because God the Father loves us.  We are forgiven because of what Jesus did, and we can talk to God about our sin, rather than running away in shame. 

It was a moment of grace.  Both Caleb and the houseguest were able to experience how God the Father responds to us.

As parents, we want follow the example of the perfect Father, our heavenly Father, by encouraging our kids to run to us when they have a problem.  Applying shame instead of grace will make them want to hide and cover their sin.

I’m guilty.  I’ve caught myself, in moments of frustration with my kids, saying, “You should be ashamed of yourself!” 

My words can be hurtful.  God has shown me grace, as an imperfect mom in these moments too. I’m learning still, but when I’m able recognize my own sin against my kids, I’ve used that opportunity to show my need for Jesus, along with the correct response, acknowledging what I’ve done and asking for forgiveness.  Our kids can learn from our mistakes, a well as their own,  when we don’t respond in shame and cover them up.  My kids have heard me apologize to them often.  I’m sure there are times I miss, when I should apologize and don’t, but they show me grace, just as I show them grace.  God uses both our mistakes and our successes for his good purposes when we invite Him into our lives.   He is a loving God, full of grace. 

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Romans 8:1

Books mentioned in this post (affiliate links):

Good News for Weary Women, Elyse Fitzpatrick