Monday, May 31, 2010

Reading Update: Grace-Based Parenting

Grace-Based Parenting
by Dr. Tim Kimmel

Now this a book that I can honestly say has been transformational for me. I say that because above all it convicted me to honestly evaluate myself as a parent. On the one hand, it challenged me to examine my motives and to admit that my responses to my children have been unbiblically motivated many times. On the other hand, it affirmed that some of the choices Pedro and I have made for our kids - choices made with much prayer and uncertainty - were actually the right ones.

The premise of grace-based parenting is not that we are to be so "gracious" to our children as to allow them license to live as they please. On the contrary, the author is very clear that we must take our children's sin seriously; oversee appropriate consequences; and protect our children from attacks and temptations. However, our perspective as parents cannot be that if we create a perfect bubble of Christianity we will assure our children successful Christian lives. Much more realistically, we should expect our children (and ourselves!) to constantly be contending with sin and commit ourselves to showing them how to find true forgiveness and victory in Christ.

In this book, love is defined as "the commitment of my will to your needs and best interests, regardless of the cost." We are reminded that parenting is hard work and is "often inconvenient and sometimes painful." It requires sacrifice on our part. We are also reminded that: "Your example will teach your children far more than any of your words will." That is a challenging and sobering thought!

Kimmel summarizes the three most important needs of our children as a secure love; a significant purpose; and a strong hope. He also addresses the need for us as parents to give our children the freedom to be different; vulnerable; candid; and to make mistakes.

Perhaps one of the most important things I took from the chapter about allowing our children the freedom to be different was this:
So much grace is stolen in the heat of a moment by our selfishness. Kids want things, need things, say things, or do things that either bother us, embarrass us, or hurt us. But sometimes the reason we are hurt is because we might be exercising immaturity, insecurity, or indifference. We take things that are huge to children and trivialize them, or we take small issues and magnify them out of proportion.
Kimmel's chapter on "a strong hope" is hard hitting. It challenges the assumption that one of our primary purposes as Christian parents is to keep our children safe and insulate them from the world. In fact, Kimmel writes:
"Those who think that the wisest way to groom a child for spiritual maturity is to isolate him from the evil, corrupted world system or airbrush his childhood environment so much that it exposes him only to the good and never teaches him how to process the bad (or the counterfeit) will set a child up for a life of mediocrity at best and spiritual annihilation at worst."
With Hebrews 11 as a proof text, he points out that we were never promised that a life sold out for Jesus Christ would be safe. He admits that there are risks. Yet he also states that
"... as your children get older, you need to allow them to experience spiritual dilemmas that enable them to trust in Christ and strengthen their hope in His goodness ... We must put our confidence in a God who would not bring anything unpleasant into our children's lives except for those things that He deliberately desires to use to mold them into His image."
There are so many great insights in this book that it would be impossible to summarize them all. These are just a few that spoke to my heart as I made my way through the pages. It is a book that my husband and I now plan to read together along with the study guide at the end so that we can discuss ways to implement some of these concepts into our family's life. I highly recommend this book to others.


Anonymous said...

Hola! primero que nada quiero presentarme, soy Damaris de México. Estuve investigando mucho de adopción estos días y de alguna forma llegué a tu blog. Escribo en español porque veo que también lo hablas? Bueno no quería pasar sin comentarte lo inspirador que fue para mi este blog tuyo. La adopción siempre llamó mi atención y ahora al ver la bendición que has tenido con tus 5 angelitos me convenzo más que nunca lo hermoso que es dar todo el amor posible a todos los que podamos. Quiero felicitarte pues son una hermosa familia y tus hijos son preciosos. Yo todavía no me caso, sin embargo, mi novio y yo hemos comentado sobre la adopción y los dos concordamos y al enseñarle tu blog el también se inspiró mucho.

Espero no molestar con mi comentario, simplemente tenía que externar que estoy muy contenta por haber encontrado este blog pues aparte de afirmarme en la adopción me ha animado mucho. :)

Saludos desde México.

Anonymous said...

Hello Stephanie,
I have been "stalking" your blog since before the earthquake in Haiti. I served at GLA for 2 weeks in 2008 when my daughter Anna was volunteering there. My other daughter and I are on our way to Haiti again to serve for 2 weeks later this month to RHFH where Anna is now. I had to send you a message about the book you mention. About 5 years ago I led a parent book study at our church on that book as well Tim Kimmel's book "Raising Kids for True Greatness - redefine success for you and your child" We also studied another book by Tim Stafford called "Never Mind the Jonses" I love the internet - and the way it can connect Christians around the world.... Blessings to you and your family! Christi

Simply Heidi said...

I loved that book! I have read it 2 times! And I have learnt something each time! Glad you read it! He has some other really great books! If you ever want me to send you one, just let me know and I would be happy to! :)