I'm halfway through Grace Based Parenting, by Tim Kimmel. I can't keep quiet any more - this book is awesome. I love the Biblical perspective on grace - love it.
I agree with the author that too often our understanding of grace stops with the saving grace provided by Christ on the cross - we forget that we need grace to live, grow, and be. Here are several of my favorite quotes so far:
"The most distinguishing part of the Christian faith is grace - that wonderful gift offered by God to undeserving people like you and me that makes us fall in love with the Savior. Grace is what attracts us to Him and what confirms His love for us over and over. God's grace has the power to transform the most hardened, indifferent soul into a person spilling over with kindness. If God our heavenly Father is the perfect Father, and the primary way that He deals with us as humans is through the power of His grace, it stands to reason that grace forms the best template for bringing out the best in our children."
"...raising [sic] safe Christian kids is a spiritual disaster in the making. Your effort will produce shallow faith and wimpy believers. Kids raised [sic] in an environment that stresses safety are on track to be evangelical pushovers. They will end up either overly critical...or naive about the world system...Safe Christianity is an oxymoron, like "jumbo shrimp." Living your life sold out for Jesus Christ has never been a way to enjoy a safe life. It may be a way to enjoy a good life, but not a safe one. That's because Jesus isn't safe, but He is always good."
"I didn't want my children to grow up in a home where they felt that God's pleasure was determined by their behavior. Nor did I want them to feel that there was no latitude in how they lived out the different nuances of their personalities...We just didn't want arbitrary boundaries based on unsubstantiated Christian opinion. We wanted to rely on the boundaries the Bible clearly drew and then trust God to help us make balanced decisions when faced with the usual "stuff" that hits parents. I realize that many will want to criticize the basic tenets of grace-based parenting because it knocks the props out from underneath the teachings that say you can raise [sic] great Christian kids by simply putting them in the right environment and programming the right information into their heads. You can't."
"Grace based parenting works from the inside out. Fear based parenting works from the outside in. That's why I think so many of the superficial measuring rods of fear based parenting are so foolish - even destructive to our children's relationship with God (ie, how many verses they've memorized, how conservatively they dress, the fact that they listen to only Christian music, etc.)...As our children grow and mature in their relationship with Christ, things they need to adjust will happen far more easily when they are prompted by God's Spirit rather than coerced by their parents."
You know what? This is the first parenting book that hasn't sent up any major red flags for me. A lot of times parenting literature is WAY too crazy one way or the other. You know, let your kids out of the house in the morning and they'll come home when they are ready - OR - lock your kids in the basement and they'll have great character. You know?
And yes, I'm only halfway through - so take my glowing review with a pinch of salt - but for me, this is a much needed shot in the arm - a reminder of the perspective I need to have when dealing with my precious kiddos.
God loves me, despite my many shortcomings. He deals with me graciously, tenderly bringing me along. I'm sure there are many times I would have rolled my eyes at me, at my self-righteous attempts to "please" Him, at my audacious sinful behavior. But God continues to extend His grace. His love for me never changes - ever. He loves me equally when I'm pouty and selfish as when I'm sitting in church or worshiping Him with a full heart.
So. Why do I get so frustrated with my kids after God has dealt so graciously with me? Well, I'm human, and God is not. I fail, God does not. That's the bottom line. But I'm certainly not going to give up - I'm going to ask God for more grace. Wow. I'm unworthy of that. Just thinking about the stark contrast between my indescribably GOOD God and me totally blows my mind.
I kind of think that's the point.