Friday, July 6, 2012

Thing 3

Thing 3:  Err on the Side of Grace, let me rephrase that...WHEN you wonder whether you're being too hard on your child, whether your expectations are reasonable, whether you should crack down or lighten up, I would encourage you - when you're uncertain - to always err on the side of grace and compassion.    While that may sound obvious and lovely (who doesn't want to be compassionate and generous?), the reality is that it will often require Herculean patience, great inconvenience, and will sometimes even require you to absorb your child's forgetfulness or willfulness or irresponsibility.  It may result in some public humiliation for you as well!  (whose child has not embarrassed them publicly: "I didn't TEACH them to be that way...REALLY!!")

Whether the issue is breaking your child of a habit (thumb-sucking, tantrums, etc.), or creating a new habit (toilet training, bed-making, etc.), or refining a skill (piano, cleaning their room, etc.), following the family rules (curfew, schoolwork, etc.), living faithfully within the household or community or church, developing needed personal discipline...regardless of the issue...strive to be full of generosity and grace.  

I am not suggesting you let your children be unruly, undisciplined, wild little hellions.  Not at all.  In fact, I am quite a proponent of order and self-control and obedience, which is the reason this has been a hard lesson for me to learn!  I am suggesting that it sometimes seems easier to achieve a desired outcome by enforcing strict punishments and consequences.  Yet overly harsh responses, demands, and expectations can be burdensome to our children and create hard hearts or conforming perfectionists.  

Sometimes a hard line is called for and is absolutely needed, but toughness should not be our default mode.  If instead, we reserve those tough actions for the situations when they are really necessary, they will have a greater impact.  In the meantime, we do well to remind ourselves of our own frequent failings and the unprecedented long-suffering that Christ extends to us in our frailty and even in our stubborn rebellion.  

Parent in such a way that your children expect understanding and grace from you.   "But they might take advantage of me!"  Indeed, they may.  Just as we sometimes think lightly of God's mercies to us.  In the long run, they, like we, will begin to recognize the beauty of grace and will begin to live in gratitude for it.   They will know they are loved.  They will know how to receive the grace of Christ.  They will know how to extend the same grace, mercy, and love to those around them.  

That's it folks.  That's all I've got.  Three things.  Done.

1 comment:

Randy S. said...

Just THREE things? Shucks.