Our boys were recently fighting over who punched who first, and who said what mean thing to who last. When I asked them to explain what happened, they each had a different story, and they each had a pointed finger.
This happened at the end of a long week and I was low on patience, and so naturally, I did everything I know I’m not supposed to do. I got mad. I tried to instill fear with empty threats. I demanded the truth. And of course, none of that worked. They continued to argue and point fingers. Until, that is, I reminded them of grace.
“Boys, I want you to be honest so you don’t carry the guilt that comes with lying. And I want you to remember that whatever you did wrong has already been forgiven and paid for in Jesus. Ask God to give you a heart that desires honesty. This is not a house of perfection, but confession.”
I am by no means suggesting that this is a formula that “works” every time. Grace is not a formula. But grace often frees my kids to confess the things that fear or guilt were preventing them from disclosing. That’s what grace does.
I’m also not saying they don’t receive consequences. Of course they do. Our children must learn that there are, and always will be, consequences to their actions.
Listen friend, I know we already know this but can we just remind ourselves of it: Our kids need—and want!—us to be consistent with them. Our two-year-old and our seventeen-year-old need us to establish healthy boundaries and be consistent in enforcing them! They may not know it. And they’ll definitely never admit it. Right?
I mean, when was the last time your child came to you and said, “Hey Mom, I really need you to be consistent with boundaries and consequences so I know I can count on you and learn to rely on God to make wise choices in the future!” Exactly! Me neither. But indeed, they need us to say what we mean and mean what we say. (Though let us not confuse consistent with stringent. If we overreact and give them a consequence that doesn’t fit the crime, or if we are unreasonable when they want to explain their actions, or we are inflexible in a situation that could have used a little mercy, it’s okay for us to back up and say, “I got that wrong and I want to make it right.”)
Boundaries and consistent consequences are so crucial and so fundamental in our parenting. But even so, we must remember that clear rules, consistent boundaries, and logical consequences may change our children’s outward behavior, but they certainly won’t lead them to repentance or bring lasting transformation of their hearts. Only grace does that.
Grace in discipline says, “You disobeyed me, and because I love you, I will give you consequences. I can’t change your heart. Only God can do that. But I can help you learn from your mistakes and pray you make wise choices in the future.”
Grace in discipline is corrective and instructional, and it is for our child’s good. It never uses shame or fear to accomplish its purpose. We want our kids to understand that the commandments and promises of Christ are gifts we give them—gifts that set them free to live into the purpose for which they were so wonderfully created.
Grace in discipline is corrective and instructional, and it is for our child’s good.
And here’s the thing. Weaving grace into our discipline begins with us, as moms, knowing God’s grace for us. When we are living in the freedom of God’s grace, we will be empowered to raise children who also live in freedom. For the love that God pours into our hearts enables us to love and lead with His kind of love.
God is able to make all grace overflow to you so that, in all things and at all times, having all you need, you will overflow with every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
The grace we so generously receive will be the grace that we so generously give.
Taken from: Mom Set Free Copyright © 2017 by Jeannie Cunnion. Published by Howard Books. Used by permission.