For the last 8 months, or maybe year even, I have been on a grace-journey. I have read book after book on the subject; I even created a blog about it. And I have learned loads about how little I extend grace to others, and also of how small my view is about how much grace I've received as a sinner.
As I soaked in literature about grace-based parenting, the lines began to get very fuzzy. Where do rules fit in here? Are we to teach our children rules? Should I expect first-time obedience as I extend grace to my children? What does this look like practically speaking? These thoughts basically just spiraled downhill to the point of chaos in my home. The boundary lines weren't clear for anybody anymore, and while dad was trying to lay down the law in the evenings and on his days off, demanding some order, mom was saying "You need to give them more grace." Thus a vicious cycle of mom and dad being divided... never good. This is a recipe for disaster, and finally the big blow-up happened. It was inevitable.
And I'm so thankful.
I see it as God telling me, before my household was torn down by own hands, that things need to get re-adjusted here. Quickly. An act of His merciful grace. Rather than allowing me to destroy my family, and my marriage perhaps, He intervened.
How have things changed around here? Our time together is changing into more structured, intentional training sessions. And this doesn't mean there's been a lack of fun. Obedience to Jesus is supposed to be a joyful experience, and when children are obeying their parents with a cheerful attitude, they are obeying God. Consistency, being intentional, and quality time together. That's what's changed.
While I don't want to train my children into little law-keepers or Pharisees, I have come to recognize that I must develop strict rules in our household, and set the bar high, to in turn teach them what grace is--Something completely unearned and undeserved. They won't come to appreciate grace, if they don't first learn the law cannot be completely kept, perfectly. The same God who gave Moses the 10 Commandments on Mount Sinai, also sent the perfect sacrifice, Jesus Christ, to fulfill it, because we would never be able to. By setting the bar high in our household, we create opportunities to extend grace to our children each day, and ultimately point them to the perfect grace-giver, Jesus himself.
Some of our adjustments:
First-time obedience IS expected.
Whiny-ness IS NOT tolerated.
Teasing / bullying is in the process of being eradicated in our home, and then outside of our home.
Having a cheerful and thankful disposition ALWAYS is commanded in Scripture and expected here.
Tantrums and uncontrolled anger results in a negative consequence, no matter how inconvenient it might be for mommy.
Working and doing chores is a good thing. Work makes us stronger and happy.
Sound tough? Can I even live up to this? Parenting is not easy, and anybody who comes to it with a lackadaisical attitude is fooling themselves. The thing is, when we set the bar high for our children, we are automatically forcing ourselves to make some difficult attitude adjustments in our own hearts. Also, appreciating God's abounding grace extended to us daily.