Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Grace vs. Responsibility -- Understanding the Balance in Parenting

How much grace do you give your children? How much do you insist on change, when in fact you haven't changed, and they are less mature than you? Where's the line? Believe me, I know the struggle!

I've never seen a better explanation of the grace/consequence line than what follows, from Paul David Tripp's Instruments in the Redeemers Hands. Tripp is not necessarily speaking of parents in this writing, but it is not out of context to apply it so. Stick with me, this is useful stuff!

" . . . it is wrong to approach a struggling brother or sister with a condemning, self-righteous spirit. This puts you in the way of what the Lord is doing in their lives. You must grant them the same grace and love that you received from the Lord. At the same time, you do not want that offer of grace to be misunderstood. God's grace is always grace leading to change. Since God's purpose is that we would become 'partakers of his divine nature' (2 Peter 1:4), change is his agenda. As we offer people a humble, patient, gentle, forbearing, and forgiving love, we must never communicate that it is okay for them to stay as they are. As long as a vestige of indwelling sin remains, change is God's call. It must never be compromised in the relationships He gives us. To do so is to cease to be an ambassador and to stnad int he way of the Lord's work in that person's life.

"So we sturdily refuse to condemn, but we also refuse to condone."

When we lose sight of God's grace and purpose as it relates to our children, control, condemn, stand in the way. When we understand the purpose, see the big picture, recognize or own sin and the transformation He is working in us, we are effective ambassadors of God's grace, love and training.

I used the word ambassadors because Tripp did. That's what we are. We are not owners of our children. We are not mere enforcers. We are certainly not Gods ourselves. We are His representative to them while they are under our roof, primarily, though somewhat beyond.

Many parents do not clearly explain to their child that a particular action was sin. They feel harsh and don't want to hurt their child's feelings. Or they just aren't thoughtful enough about their process of instruction.

Other parents are telling their children very often what they are doing is wrong, but they are not putting it in the context of sin, or showing grace. They are, in essence, doing nothing but exasperating the child.

The balance we strive for is an even-tempered, loving, explanation and challenge to the child. "Susan, what you just said to your brother was very offensive. You sinned against God and him by running him down. Sit down and deal with it with the Lord, and then go talk to your brother. If I hear that again, there will be a consequence." Then, do what you said. Teach the family -- or the particular child -- Scripture that instructs and transforms in the areas you see them struggling.

I know, that sounds nice and tidy and simple, because it has no emotion! I wish I could do it 9-and-of-10 times! That's why we have to understand what Tripp explained above. We must get the big picture. We must see each encounter with our children's sin as a part of his grace-to-change process.

If we know our position and understand what He's doing, He will do it through us.

Links, Quotes, Notes

The Parent Lab blog post takes different forms from time to time. Today's should inform and motivate what to pray for, as the following couple of items are not solution-focused, but give cause to search out our Lord and intercede.
* A mother in our church recently send me a summary of a recent experience. It is very eye-opening as to the sexual realities of their culture. I share with permission:
 I just attended a small group of moms with teenagers and 2 senior girls from (a private school) had a Q-and-A with us. They were very OPEN and it was alarming...These are good... 'smart' girls, Heres what they said:
  • 95% of senior girls-not virgins
  • sex buddies is real--'friends with benifits'
  • oral sex is not considered sex and is common
  • cars is the place (still) parking still happens
  • the term now (vs 'go with' ) is 'talking' as in..."were talking'
  • birth control? still lots of unprotected sex, or lots of girls taking bc pills for 'other things' like complexion, their parents believe only for that.

those in 'church' or Christian groups doesnt mean they are not engaged in all this behavior-they said some of those are the worst.

Other things the mother learned:

facebook-its about the numbers, they will add anyone
inappropriate text-words, they just delete, dont tell their parents
drinking-drugs, still prevalent, some parents have 'drinking parties' at their homes, usually coincide with their own 'drinking party' with adults in other part of home.


One of the girls dad was a police officer-she said that 'gave her a good excuse'
They thought parents have huge influence,including their own choice of friends-(drinking parties)
They valued their openness with their parent-felt they could tell them anything (didnt mean they did-but felt they could)

* Check out this very well researched and written Wall Street Journal (best written paper in the world) piece from Monday on economic change and how it is impacting our generation and our kids'. It is must-read-but-makes-you-think stuff.
* A story that might inspire your kids, though obviously an over-the-top example:

* The Disciples weren't superstars. Share this with your kids and contextualize to your and their walk with Christ:

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