Wednesday, February 6, 2013


From Beth Templeton:

Have you ever asked yourself if the fact that you are a Christian makes any real difference to your parenting? Does my relationship with Jesus cause me to parent differently than my worldly neighbors? How does my revelation of the gospel of God's Amazing Grace change and inform the way I raise my family?

We here at Hope at Home are passionate about seeing the beauty of the Gospel lived out in our homes. What does it look like where the rubber meets the road? In the real life moments:  
when your toddler is in the thick middle of a fit or a rage? 
when a child is sad because she has no friends?
when your son lies about doing his homework? 
when everyone is in the car to go to church and you begin to          back out of the driveway and realize someone is missing (turns out they are inside screaming, "I can't find my shoes!")

We can sit in church and bible studies and go on the occasional retreat or mission trip, but if we don’t flesh out what we are learning (those truths that we give assent to and believe), in the day to day realities of our homes, then surely we are missing something!

Relationship, not Rules
Tana's wonderful post on Discipline and Punishment brought a refreshing clarity to one of the key ways our parenting looks different because we are the recipients of Grace. It boils down to this I believe-- the Gospel is about 
Relationship, not Rules
But oh how we wish someone would give us a list of rules to live by! There is something about the simplicity of a list of rules that is awfully attractive! Neat and clean and simple, right? A quick read of the Old Testament cures us of that notion though. I have definitely become a FAN of GRACE!

1 Peter 1:3 tells us that everything you and I need to be able to parent our children is found, not in a list of parenting "do's and don'ts," but rather in our relationship with Jesus:

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

Grace is a Person-- the Person of Christ. You and I are co-laboring with Grace, with Jesus, as we parent our children. 
So, as we face the innumerable decisions demanded of us as parents, we see that God has graciously given us what we need by getting to know, really know, Jesus. 

Since the gospel is about relationship, not rules, so our parenting needs to be about relationship, not rules. 

And just to be sure we are on the same page-- we are not talking about cultural grace here. It’s not about being nice (gracious) or overlooking someone’s weaknesses. 
We are talking about Heavenly Grace, biblical grace that accesses POWER from heaven, applying the full effect of the cross. This Grace is the power to parent each one of our children.

Sin Prevention vs. Identity Discovery and Nurture
Under the Law, there are strict, rigid rules enforced by punishment, accompanied by shame and fear-- the fear of being caught and of being punished, and the shame of being exposed. As a result, a strong desire to hide and lie develops. The fact of the matter is that no matter how many rules we put in place, we cannot keep our children from sinning, can we? Rules have their purpose, but we see clearly in scripture, as well as in our own lives, that creating and enforcing a list of rules does not result in godly behavior and intimate relationship. 

When we look around us we see that most parenting is really all about trying to deal with the problem of sin by establishing rules in the hopes of preventing the opportunity for sin to manifest. We see this parenting approach in Christian and non-christian homes, don't we? The goal is clearly sin-prevention, rather than identity discovery and nurture. 

On the other hand, under Grace, the relationship is the focus, not the rules. I think of it as Parenting from the Inside, Out. We absolutely do deal with sin, but we deal with it "in Christ," that is, in relationship. There is NOTHING that we can do to make God love us more, nor is there anything we can do to cause Him to love us less. So from that eternally safe vantage point, we are learning not to be sin-conscious, but rather we are learning to be Christ-conscious. We are learning to rely on our relationship with the Lord, being aware of Him as we parent our children, rather than being primarily aware of a list of rules. And we begin to enjoy the freedom of asking, "What is the Lord doing? What is He saying?" rather than, "How can I stop this behavior?"

I remember a few years ago Susan Hillis and I were both in the process of addressing significant issues with our two of our adopted teens. The issues were similar, at least in the outward appearance, and we were both practicing being more conscious of Christ in us and in our children than conscious of the manifestation of the sin itself. The next day we both began to share what we felt the Lord was saying. Susan said that the Lord showed her that she needed to handle the situation by treating her daughter as if she were a little girl. Not in a condescending way, but in a way that would address her needs and get at the root of the behavior. As many of you who are raising adopted children know, sometimes the behavior we see is that little girl or boy who still is reacting out of the pain of their past. How kind of the Lord to help Susan see what was really going on underneath the teenage anger. And I shared that as I was taking a walk and praying through the situation, having no sense of what Stephen and I should do, felt the Lord say, "parent him like a man." A completely different approach than the Lord gave Susan. He began to show me that what our son needed at that moment was for us to engage with him as if he had more emotional maturity than he was showing. I believe the Lord had us take that approach because what our son needed was for us to call forth the maturity that he so desperately wanted. 
In both of these situations there were consequences and action was taken, but our parental response was forward looking as a part of our child's training in their identity, rather than backward looking in reaction to their behavior. 

When we parent out of the relationship we have with Jesus, we find a refreshing and life-giving approach to the issues we face, not based on a rigid list of rules, but informed by an intimate knowledge and love. 

We will see our children walk as godly young people not by our external rules, but by the ever-increasing revelation (theirs and ours!) that we are indwelt by the Living God--
“Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27) 

In some follow up posts I'll talk about parenting the heart, and rules and boundaries. Grace does not throw those out, you know, it simply does not expect them to accomplish what they cannot. So stay tuned! 

Hope at Home has an active Facebook Page and we'd love for you to join our community there. It's a great place to enjoy encouragement in the Lord for your parenting and to connect with other parents who "get it." We also keep you updated with Hope at Home events and share helpful resources. It is a real joy to do this together!!
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