As parents, we all know that feeling when…your rambunctious kid is doing that annoying habit one more time, your patience is running out, and it takes all the self-control you can muster not to BLOW UP! We live in a challenging time right now, with the stay at home order passing the 30-day mark, and families feeling the stress of staring at the same four walls. But, there is hope, and it is possible to balance grace and discipline as we shape our children during this chaotic and historic time.

Extending grace and consistent discipline are two of the biggest challenges of parenting. A deficiency in one area will undoubtedly affect the other. Kids will be kids. They will mess up and get on your last nerve, but there are some principles that can guide you to maintain consistent discipline while showing grace.

Foremost, get on the same page.

As parents, husband and wife must agree on the same philosophy when it comes to grace and discipline. When it comes to maintaining proper discipline with your kids, consistency is key. If married, make sure you act as a team when dealing with issues so that one spouse does not bear the burden alone. If divorced, first get on the same page with your former spouse, and if that is difficult, develop your own grace-filled approach and follow through as best you can. Seek the support of others who know what you are experiencing.

Sometime parents think leniency equals love, but in fact it’s a very dysfunctional form of love.  Some parents think punishment equals love, but there is a big difference between punishment and discipline. Children desire a safe, orderly environment, and most expect their parents to discipline them. Children need to learn that wrong choices have consequences. Godly discipline has more to do with teaching responsibility than forcing obedience.

One word best describes how God deals with His children: grace. God helps imperfect parents, recipients of God’s amazing grace, to shower their children with the same grace. As a parent myself, I have felt that gentle tug of the Holy Spirit to bestow grace on my kids – a great lesson was learned by both father and child.

When parents work together for the same outcome, raising responsible kids, it is necessary to create a common language with expressed expectations.

6 essentials to think about:

  1. Rules without relationship equals rebellion.
    Knowing when to lay down the law and when to engage in relationship-building is greatly important to practicing grace and discipline.
  2. Choose your battles wisely.
    If you find yourself becoming easily agitated when your children misbehave, you may be fighting too many battles on too many fronts, and you may lose energy to fight the really important battles later.
  3. Nagging doesn’t work.
    It stifles intimacy and sets your kids up for future failure. Are you planning on following them to college and nag? Your children could get used to decision-making spurred on by nagging, and then have an unhealthy relationship with their spouse. The Bible has this to say: “And now a word to you parents. Don’t keep on scolding and nagging your children, making them angry and resentful. Rather, bring them up with the loving discipline the Lord himself approves, with suggestions and godly advice” (Ephesians 6:4 TLB).
  4. Yelling crushes and shuts down your child’s spirit.
    The more you yell at your kids, the less they hear. They will only think you are mad at them. A wise person once said, “Parents need to out-mature, not out-power, their kids.” Parents, yelling accomplishes nothing and ultimately is a signal that something is not right in us.
  5. Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes.
    Apologize for wrongs done or said. Your children will not disrespect you for it. The opposite is true. Model confession and forgiveness.
  6. Clearly express your expectations.
    Your children need limits and boundaries, and when they meet your expectations, they feel good about themselves. Be consistent in following through with consequences or your kids will learn rules are not for them. Parenting expert, Kevin Leman, once said, “Inconsistency is how to raise a yo-yo.”

Parents, please know that there is grace available for you if you have made mistakes in your parenting. The Bible clearly says that we all sin, and one area we illustrate that truth is how we sometimes parent our children. But remember God is the God of second chances, and modeling that to your children is a lesson all by itself.

*Inspired from Jim Burns’ book, “Confident Parenting”

Leonard Prater
Associate Pastor of Adults

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