Grace-Based Parenting

by Taffi Dollar | 15 Jul 2018


The world is a backward place, and we regularly see double standards when it comes to relationships between men and women. As parents, we know that this mindset of inequality affects our children, but we can fight back against gender stereotypes through grace-based parenting. If we are not careful, we can slip into self-effort and legalism. When we raise our children consistent with God’s grace, however, we allow Him to lead us in teaching them His Word through our own example. This operates by letting the overflow of grace that we have received spill over onto our children, revealing God’s nature to them. How we view God is reflected in our parenting style. When we realize that we do not have to work to please God because He is already pleased with us, we are empowered to show grace to our children.
  1. Properly fulfilling our roles as parents requires that we stand on the Word of God.
    1. Jesus accepts us; therefore, we can model to our children the same love and acceptance that He has for us.
      1. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms (1 Peter 4:8-10, NIV).
      2. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven(Matthew 19:14).
      3. And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me (Mark 9:36, 37).
    2. Healthy parenting styles are based on the favor God has for us. To truly love, care for, and nurture our children, there are certain things parents should do:
      1. Trust and respect them. This includes acknowledging their right to have their own feelings, opinions, friends, and activities.
      2. Promote emotional security. This means talking and acting so that our children feel safe, and they are comfortable expressing themselves.
      3. Care for ourselves and give ourselves personal time. Staying healthy and maintaining our friendships make a positive difference.
      4. Provide physical security. This includes providing food, shelter, and clothing, teaching personal hygiene and nutrition, and monitoring safety.
      5. Express verbal and physical affection toward our children. This includes showing affection when they are physically or emotionally hurt.
      6. Consistent discipline includes age-appropriate rules, and clarity in limits and expectations. Using discipline to instruct, not to punish, is also good.
      7. We support and affirm our children by encouraging them to follow their interests, and allowing them to respectfully disagree with us.
      8. Giving them our time includes participating in their school, sports activities, and celebrations, and revealing to them who we are.
    3. We nurture our children the same way Jesus nurtures and cherishes the church.
      1. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church (Ephesians 5:29).
  1. We are wise to avoid ungodly ways of parenting that hurt our children and our families.
    1. By comparison, unhealthy, abusive parenting styles are rooted in fear, legalism, and performance. There are some things we must avoid:
      1. Intimidation instills fear through looks, actions, and gestures. This includes yelling, violence, and using our adult size.
      2. It is not good to use institutions such as God, courts, the police, school, foster homes, or juvenile detention as threats or punishment.
      3. Using adult privilege includes treating children as servants, bossing, always winning, or denying input in visitations or custody decisions.
      4. Isolation includes controlling access to peers, adults, siblings, other parents, or grandparents.
      5. Threatening suicide, abandonment, physical harm, confinement, or harm to loved ones or others is also detrimental.
      6. Emotional abuse includes being inconsistent, putdowns, name-calling, shaming, or using children as confidants.
      7. Withholding basic needs, using children as an economic bargaining chip in divorce, or withholding child support is economic abuse.
    2. Abuse of other family members is also harmful to a healthy family unit. There are a number of ways to display physical violence:
      1. Using abuse to get our way includes screaming, shouting, name-calling, or throwing or breaking things to get what we want from others.
      2. Physically attacking a parent or sibling, or hitting, shoving, pushing, kicking, or punching, is physical abuse.
      3. Demanding that other family members serve us, give us money, or do what we want them to, is classified as making unreasonable demands.
      4. We violate other family members’ trust when we ignore family rules, leave home without telling the family, or violate family expectations.
      5. Acting as if the abuse were “no big deal,” or saying it never happened, fosters a cycle of denying, justifying, minimizing, and blaming.
      6. Putting family members down, telling parents they are bad parents, making them feel guilty, or using profanity, is a type of emotional abuse.
      7. Destroying family members’ belongings, damaging the family home or car, or punching walls, is unacceptable property destruction.
      8. Threats and intimidation can include displaying weapons, threatening to run away, or voicing intentions to harm or kill family pets.
    3. Grace-based parenting uses the wisdom of God. It does not allow fear or power struggles to enter into family relationships.
      1. It uses God’s Word, and the power of faith, to keep the lines of communication open and understand the other person’s point of view.
      2. This takes time, but it yields good results.

Scripture References

1 Peter 4:8-10, NIV

1Matthew 19:14

Mark 9:36, 37

Ephesians 5:29