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Parents: Apply Grace!

Glyndora Condon MS MFT LPC


This does not mean that parents must look the other way, be the best friend, cater to demands, or to have no limits/rules. Laws are good. Children need laws and law keepers according to Dr. Paul David Tripp, a Christian Psychologist. He speaks of how parents will personalize children's behavior. "How can you do this to me? Look at what I have done for you-yet you do this?" This is often when the guilt trip follows and then parents regret the things stated as they see their broken child. In his book then you would find 14 Christian gospels or principals that parents can apply that will help change their child's heart. One thing is needed before a parent can provide grace. Parents must understand and must have had received God's grace before they can give mercy.

Parents sometimes believe with a delusion that they are able to control a child with laws and consequences but would have to admit that God must be guiding them with their parenting since free will is something that we all possess. We then have to ask how does a parent apply grace as they parent? Children will make foolish and even evil decisions. Rules, boundaries, and consequences that are consistent are helpful but how does one reach the heart and create in their child-a responsible ownership? We think of grace as mercy and forgiveness; love and patience...so do we let our children escape consequences? No, no we do not.

Let's us review how God gives us grace.

First, God has made sure that we have His word that governs all thought and actions, with rules. He provided His son to teach us life's lessons through parables. He shows us his love through his sacrifice and patience; and He warns us as to the dangers (both natural and also with eternity's judgment that will be rendered by Jesus. God also shows us that He is the same and that He will keep His promises; and therefore we must trust that our thoughts and actions must be guarded. When we make bad choices, there are natural consequences that follow which often convict our hearts to change. Sometimes we find ourselves tested and tried-forging strength and perseverance. These are difficult times but we learn that God allows things on earth so as to turn us from evil and foolishness-so that we can have everlasting life with Him since He does not want us to be lost eternally.

As we try to control our own lives, we fail miserably. As we try to outsmart or cheat the consequence-we fail. It is only when we are obedient and repent, when God then will restore and revive us. He is our teacher of a Father who teaches, warns, and does exact punishment if we do not do His will. Our biggest gift of mercy was through His son. Regardless of our walk-we remain His, and He continues to love us-even when He allows us to be pruned or placed into fire so as to purify our heart. These are blessings of insight (instructing and guidance) which aids us to own our choice and actions; and blessings of conviction (our turning from doing wrong.

Some parents of the Bible were horrible role models. Abraham, David, and others made grave mistakes yet who did return to God as they endured their consequence. We see some good role models with Mary and Joseph, Job, and others. Some children turned out well in spite of their parents-and others made huge mistakes even though they had wonderful parents-such as the prodigal son. There is no perfect earthly parent.

As we review God's modeling of a Father-and with the knowledge of positive parenting influence; as well as; how authoritative parenting benefits children-then we may be able to help with how to respond to our wayward children.

Questioning helps the child to discern and to own their choices and actions. What was the attraction of ______________? What were you thinking and feeling as you decided to ________________? What was your motive or goal behind this choice? What was the result of your decision? What may have been a better option? By asking questions, calmly yet firmly-then we are allowing the child to think and to process. How can I as your parent, help you have courage and/or help you discern better next time?

Applying then the consequence reinforces the love and the grace that is consistently saying-I love you enough to stand against things that will hurt you. Parents apply grace with this authority who are true to their word, trustworthy, and consistent. With the application of parenting with love and yet with grace-filled actions then children's hearts can indeed embrace responsible behaviors and learn to process their thoughts. The parent is more of a teacher, a coach, an advocate-as they encourage and grow their child with positive and consistent parenting.

How is this applying grace? With lessons being taught in a controlled environment-with instruction, warning, provision of choice which have a promise attached (benefit from making good choices-and consequences of making a bad choice); with the encouragement to make the best choice; and then the consequence applied as wrong choices occur with concern and the ability to process the issue within a safe forum; or to receive the benefit of praise and encouragement for the good choices that help reinforce more good choices; we then see that the child is experiencing this grace. Had the child instead received ridicule and unbridled anger-the child often becomes more likely to defy and to rebel. The child then continues the wrong choices and experiences more harshness in their home but also then will experience harshness and harm outside the home. As children are disobedient and disrespectful of their primary care taker-they are free to apply disobedience and disrespect to other authority figures-rejecting counsel. Disobedience and disrespect of the parent is an offense to God.

Children are not only to be obedient and respectful to parents who are parenting wisely-but also to those who are abusing their parenting. As parents model disrespect then they often receive disrespect which then places both parent and child against God's teaching and example. As parents model respect, then children can more easier choose to replicate that respect. If they fail to-then their consequence follows and they own that consequence.

The pattern of wrongful parenting and choices are sometimes difficult to change which do benefit with counseling.

How is consequence grace? Mindful respect with a calm application, with correct questions to guide enlightenment results in ownership and better choices.

Counselors can assist parents and their children to embrace grace. We can teach how our thoughts can begin a journey of pain or a journey of hope. Christian counselors can add how to parent grace.

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