Parenting can be hard at times. The constant demands of children can wear you to a frazzle. Tempers fray and even sweet tempered children get tired and uncooperative. Dealing with it all is part of that mysterious paradox of parenting. How is it that you can love your kids so deeply and yet at the same time get sooo darned exasperated with them?
Thank goodness for the gift of grace.
Grace is a powerful force of love that helps us deal with the exhausting, wonderful exhilarating mess called family.
- It brings healing, conveys love, and forges deep family connections.
- Offers undeserved kindness.
- Extends forgiveness and compassion.
- Puts relationship ahead of rules and regulations.
- Speaks the language of love.
In a family grace is one of the most transformative gifts we can offer and receive.
This past week I fortunate enough to read a couple of powerful stories about grace in action. The first is a story that was written by Mel Lazarus. It is the true story of three young boys caught in an act of vandalism. The fathers of two of the boys responded harshly, while the third responded with an act of grace. Check it out here.
What an amazing story!
And what was the consequence of that father’s incredible act of grace? In the words of his son,
“I also realized years later that, to him, humiliating me was just as unthinkable. Unlike the fathers of my buddies, he couldn’t play into a conspiracy of revenge and spectacle. But my father had made his point. I never forgot that my vandalism on that August afternoon was outrageous. And I’ll never forget that it was also the day I first understood how deeply I could trust him.”
The whole issue of discipline is tricky. There needs to be a certain number of rules and I believe that children thrive in an atmosphere where there are clear boundaries. At the same time children need to experience lots of love and forgiveness.
Your children are going to make lots of mistakes. That is part of growing up. They will forget and get distracted. They will jump blindly into situations without considering the consequences. They will push the boundaries. And trust me they will quickly figure out how to push your buttons! As a result there is a need for gentle discipline and fair consequences.
At the same time our children desperately need to know that making mistakes does not mean you are a bad person. That your love and approval is something they can count on and is never dependent on their behavior. And that is where grace comes in.
The second story I read came from Glennon Doyle Melton over at Momastry. She tells a powerful story of an exhausted mom, bickering children and a stubbed toe that all combined to a spectacular mother meltdown. Boy did I ever relate! I’ve been there a million times. How about you? If you can take a few minutes go read it here.
The thing that really stood out for me was the way a small act of grace offered by her husband brought peace and reconciliation into a fraught situation. This husband could have come in with judgment and recriminations. Instead he silently offered compassion, understanding, and care. This is grace in action.
“And grace is what makes a girl ready to apologize.”
And the impact of that apology was beautiful.
“Yes. This is family: With all the apologizing and hugging and crying and forgiving — a place to practice giving and accepting grace.” Glennon Doyle Melton
So when your children make mistakes (and they will). Or your teens are driving you crazy (and they will). Or you are reminding your brood to do something for the seventh millionth time. Or you are constantly embroiled in arguments. Try to remember that grace can turn things around.
- Instead of a harsh reprimand offer the chance to start a conversation over.
- Instead of spitting out words of indignation quietly ask what is going on and listen.
- Instead of turning away offer a long hug.
And when it all gets too much and you have a meltdown (and you probably will) try to apologize as soon as possible. Then accept the gift of grace offered to you because everyone is worthy of the chance to start over and over and over.