I recently finished a book called Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson. I actually didn’t need to read the book to know that I haven’t exactly dazzled my kids with the love of Jesus. I do think I shine the light of love brightly some days and maybe even some part of every day, but I don’t think dazzle is the word.
The reason is that I don’t give as much grace as they need. During the time that my kids are doing wrong–when Mr. C is harassing his sister, and his sister is screaming about it once again, when JP tries to twist out of my grasp while I’m changing a particularly messy diaper, when Little E is crying over something that she doesn’t get to have when she is surrounded by so much that she already does have–frustration or anger comes quicker than grace. When I say grace, I don’t mean that my children don’t need discipline for their wrong-doing. They definitely need consequences for their actions so that they will learn not to behave that way, but there is a grace-filled way to do it. Also, thinking back to the book I just read, do I ever explain the gospel message to my kids, aiming at their hearts when they do wrong (and that wrong includes pride over doing right), or do I just want them to behave?
What it comes down to is this: in those moments, I can forget that I’m in need of grace as well. When I remember how sinful I am and the love God has shown me anyway, I handle their wrongdoing a lot better.
Praise God that over the past four and a half years, He’s really helped me grow in this area. I still need His grace and help to continue to improve. I also will always need Him to fill in where I fall short in my kids’ lives. My bent is to be hard on myself and not give myself grace in my mistakes, especially as a parent. In some ways, I want to be hard on myself because I don’t want to accept parenting that falls short of giving my kids grace and true unconditional love. However, when I’m hard on myself, if my solution is to try really hard to do better, I’ll never get anywhere.
When I fall before Jesus, asking for His help, He gives me the strength I need to handle my kids’ wrongdoing with good humor, firmness, and love. He will also work on my kids’ hearts, in a way that I never could.