by Heather Bock
Read to the end to find out how you can enter the drawing for a free copy of this book!
I was raised in a very legalistic church, a church at least outwardly more concerned with rules than with the heart. I have a personality that is easily sucked in by legalism. I want boxes to check, lists to follow. If my kids are screaming at each other, I want the bad behavior to stop and good behavior to replace it. Of course, I want my kids to have a desire to do good, to follow God with all their hearts, but a lot of times, in the moment of discipline (I hate to say), it’s easier to just deal with the behavior.
On top of that, when my children misbehave, it’s hard for me to see their heart, the reason behind the misbehavior. I can be an authoritarian, quick to give a judgment before understanding the situation. In this way, I end up not giving grace when it needs to be distributed.
I don’t want to be this way. I want to understand grace. I want my children to understand grace. Therefore, when I see books promising to talk about grace, I want to read them, especially when they have to do with parenting.
The latest book for me is Parenting with Grace and Truth by Dan Seaborn. For starters, I appreciate Seaborn’s call at the beginning of the book to be intentional about our parenting and to decide which rules you’re willing “to die for.” These rules need to be clearly communicated to our children. This reminds me of a classroom management class I took when I was working towards my teaching certificate. We learned it is important to establish early on your five “what & hows”–what they need to do and how they need to do it. You were supposed to post them in a prominent place in your classroom and refer to them often, especially at the beginning of the year. Seaborn also encourages writing your most important rules and posting them in a creative and beautiful way somewhere in the house. I haven’t done this yet, but I think it’s a good idea.
Another part of the book that I often need as a reminder is to have empathy for your children in their pain or even disobedience. This doesn’t mean we don’t give consequences when needed, but to give them remembering our own sin and past. I learned this lesson in a big way recently when God allowed me to feel intense disappointment, helping me to have more empathy for my son’s disappointments that I had previously been minimizing. I actually wrote a post about that experience here. I like this quote by Seaborn about this.
“Imagine that the earthly Jesus’ response to us when we were going through a crisis had been to turn His back and refuse to listen or help. What if He’d had no empathy for the ways in which we are tempted to sin? We know that Jesus came to earth in human form precisely so that He could be tempted and experience empathy with us over what we face.”
The only criticism I have for this book is that Seaborn isn’t hard enough on mothers, in my opinion. At one point, he describes mothers as being something like superheroes. I’ve heard this sentiment before, and as a mother, it grates on me because I know myself, and I know other mothers, and we are not all perfectly selfless, wanting no appreciation. Maybe some women are close to this, but I hate to say that I and others I know are not this way. Most of us do our best, that is true, and we do much of what we do out of love, but it’s definitely not always that way. In addition, although we do a lot for our kids, we do not, as Seaborn states, do it always with excellence. We need to understand how to give grace and truth well just as much as fathers do.
That being said, I did appreciate the majority of Seaborn’s words and felt I needed to hear them. I like that he ended the book with this:
“Our family has learned to be humble and lay our lives before the Lord throughout this journey. Like any parent, I had an image to keep…Instead of being humiliated, my wife and I chose to be humble and to rely on the Lord to give us strength as parents and not worry about what people say.”
As we parent with grace and truth, sometimes it will look messy, but we need to be humble and follow God through it all.
Meet Dan Seaborn
Dan Seaborn encourages individuals and families to lead Christ-centered homes. His practical illustrations and memorable real-life examples teach others how to win at home. Through energetic and memorable presentations, Dan talks openly about family life — often by revealing his own struggles or failures. His sincerity leaves audiences nodding in agreement and his quick wit leaves them laughing, but ultimately it is Dan’s commitment to God and family that captivates and challenges listeners of all ages. As a featured speaker at various churches and large-scale events such as Promise Keepers weekends, American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) conferences, and university assemblies, Dan has earned recognition as a powerful and passionate communicator. In addition, he has authored twelve books, has established himself as a media personality on national radio and regional television, and holds a master’s degree in Christian ministries. In 1995, Dan founded Winning At Home, Inc., an organization that produces media resources and hosts special events to develop marriages and families. Dan also serves as the Director for the Marriage & Family Division of the AACC. Prior to founding Winning At Home, Dan served at a large church in Michigan as pastor of student ministries and then as pastor of family life. He and his wife Jane have four children and live in West Michigan. More information at http://www.winningathome.com.
Do you want to do better at parenting with grace and truth? If you’re interested in reading this book, too, I am giving away one copy of Parenting with Grace and Truth by Dan Seaborn. Here’s what you need to do to enter my giveaway:
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Giveaways are open to residents of the continental U.S. and Canada only.
I will announce the winner next Saturday, so look for it! If I don’t hear from the winner within a week, I will draw another name. Thank you!