I want my children to do the things that I want them to do. I don’t want them to do the things that I don’t want them to do. Sometimes it’s easier to create fear to get this done. But we’ve got to learn to parent with a grace mentality.
Parenting with grace does not mean that we don’t discipline our children when necessary. Sometimes they need discipline, and we have options. They might have to go their room. They might get grounded. They might lose their iPad for a little while, or another favorite technology. There are ways to discipline our kids, but we have to remember to do it in love.
Loving children means talking to them. Children have their own abilities, and they have their own thoughts. I try to understand my sons. I do things with them. I listen to them, I talk to them, and I relate to them. I let them make their own choices as situations arise, good or bad. If my son makes a bad choice, sure, there might be some discipline, especially if it’s something we’ve already discussed. But even if he has to go to his room or lose his iPad, I still want to talk to him. I want to sit with him and say, okay, what are we learning from this? It’s up to me to find out what he’s taking away from a situation, and to understand how he’s figuring things out.
I truly want to know my sons, and that’s why I deal with situations as they come up. I don’t try to control them. Sometimes I get that look from other parents. You know the one I mean. I get the look that says, “Man, what’s wrong with you? Why don’t you control your kid?”
It makes me feel a little bit guilty as a parent, but in reality, I don’t want to control my sons. I can’t! The more I try to control my sons, the more I’m going to wound them, and I can’t bring myself to do that. I am not going to wound my sons. I am going to protect them.
To protect them, I need their permission. Yes. We have to earn our children’s permission to speak into their lives. Without their permission, I can say whatever I want. “Well, I told him he shouldn’t have done that!” Right? Or, “How many times do I have to tell you?”
Here’s a favorite: “I told you so!” How many times have you said that? (Or wanted to?)
I could say it. It would to make me feel better as a parent. All I have to do is say, “I told you so,” and there, my hands are clean. My son made a bad choice, but it’s not like I didn’t tell him that he shouldn’t.
But if I don’t have permission to speak into my son’s life, then actually, I didn’t tell him anything. I said words, but those words didn’t get into his heart. If my words don’t get into his heart, then I’ll find myself wondering why he’s not listening to me — because he’s not. If I don’t have his permission, then he’s not listening. And therefore, I can’t protect him.
If we don’t get our children’s permission to speak into their lives, then we have to switch from disciplining and protecting them to punishing and scaring them. And we just can’t do that! Fear and punishment will wound them, and they will carry those wounds forward into their lives. Then you will find yourself wondering why they become unhappy. You’ll wonder why they act in unhealthy ways, or struggle in their relationships.
It all starts with how we first relate to them. Do we build relationships with them through acts of permission? Do we love them in grace and trust? Or do we use fear and punishment to control them? Our kids will see God as they see us, so if we decide to use fear and punishment, they will grow up with a fear of God that is deformed and dysfunctional. They will get that fear from us.
That’s why I talk to my sons the way that God talks to me. I talk to them with love. I walk with my sons the way that God walks with me. I walk with them in grace. I tell them, “I’m not going to punish you. I’m going to love you. Sometimes I’m going to discipline you, but it will be in love. I’m always going to tell you why. I’m always going to talk with you, and I’m always going listen to you. I’m always going to protect you.”
More on this next time. See you Tuesday.