"...learning to see our children through God's limitless tenderness,
to raise our kids the way God raises us..."
I love to talk with my husband about our parents, and I love to talk with our parents about raising me and my husband and their other 18 children. I love taking time to elaborate on the things we most love and remember and care about our childhoods. I love all four of our parents' honesty in saying "We had such good-intentions, and we loved you guys so much, and so badly wanted to raise you right, in a God-honoring way... but wow. Would/do we do things differently now. We learned so much."
One of my favorite parts of how my parents raised me is their very personal relationships with and understanding of us children individually. Both of my parents "get" us. They know us as "we are." I've always felt like they loved me and liked me. They engaged me in conversation about hard things and didn't keep me away from scary or painful things. They loved letting me spread my soggy little wings and they prepared me well to be able to enter "real life" socially, spiritually, mentally and educationally. They were just real - for better or for worse. And they didn't fake for me or for others. And honestly, they were just really fun. I felt like they liked having me around and doing things with me.
So going into being a mama, I think about all these things. I want to copycat my parents. And I want to learn from them, too. Mom bought me a book called "Grace-Base Parenting" by Tim Kimmel and said "I looked through this and wish I had read it when I was just starting out."
It's been fantastic. It makes me delighted to parent, and not afraid of it. It makes me think of memory after memory in my own childhood, and love my parents even more. It makes me, most of all, feel a swell in my heart as I know the grace and love I'm reading about is something that's real in my life because my Father gives it to me. It makes me love learning about Him more. So, I'm sharing a few of my favorite quotes so far... I'm reading slowly so I soak up as much juicy-flavor as possible.
"The real test of a 'parenting model' is how well-equipped the children are to move into adulthood as vital, engaged members of the human race.
Notice that I didn't say 'as vital members of the Christian community.'"
--- "[In the past] parents were armed with little more than a vibrant relationship with God that consistently served as the ideal springboard for great people. So something changed. We got scared. And I think that fear is what motivates so much of Christian parenting advice..."
--- "We're scared of Hollywood, the internet, the public school system, Halloween, the gay community, drugs, alcohol, rock'n'roll and rap, partying neighbors, unbelieving sports teams, liberals and Santa Claus. These fears seem to determine our strategy for parenting... Jesus says 'Dont' be afraid.' We should be the last people afraid of just about anything! Fear-based parenting is the surest way to create intimidated kids."
Evangelical Behavior-Modification Parenting
--- "... assumes that the proper environment, the proper information, the proper education, and the absence of improper or negative influences will increase the chances of a child turning out well. This parenting plan works from two flawed assumptions: that the battle is primarily outside the child (it's not) and that spiritual life can be transferred onto a child's heart much like information placed on a computer hard drive (it can't)."
--- "Children brought up in homes where they are free to be different, vulnerable, candid and to make mistakes learn firsthand what the genuine love of God looks like."
--- "Grace does not exclude obedience, respect, boundaries, or discipline, but it does determine the climate in which these important parts of parenting are carried out. You may be weird and quirky, but God, with grace, loves you with all of your weirdness and quirkiness! You may feel extremely inadequate and fragile, but God comes alongside you, with grace, and carries you in those very areas of weakness. You may be frustrated, hurt, and even angry with God, but His grace allows you to candidly, confidently and boldly approach His 'throne of grace.' His grace remains when you make huge mistakes.
This is the kind of grace that makes all the difference in the world when it's coming from God, through you, to your children."
--- "Grace frees you to make big decisions in raising your kids. One of the characteristics of God's grace is how much latitude He grants within his clear moral boundaries to make choices."
--- "Grace is not so much what we do as parents, but how we do what we do."
--- "Grace is what attracts us to Him and what confirms His love over and over."
--- "Grace keeps you from clamping down on their spirits when they walk through awkward transitions and places like the valley of the shadow of adolescence."
--- "Grace can help you know what matters and what doesn't. It helps you give kids freedom to be 'kids' and keeps you from living in a reactive mode as they go through certain stages.
Without grace, you can turn high standards and strong moral convictions into knives that cut deeply into the inner recesses of your children's hearts."
--- "Grace helps you know what to write in pencil - with a good eraser - and what to write in blood."
--- "Christ is filled with grace and truth, not grace or truth, or some grace and some truth. It wasn't a balancing act. He is describing two parts that makes up a single whole. Grace and truth.
That reminds me of the time I read about a set of Siamese twins who could not be separated because they shared the same heart and respiratory system. The way their organs were arranged inside them, doctors didn't even have an option to separate them and allow one to live and the other to die. For them, to eliminate either was to eliminate both."
--- "God gave us Ephesians 6:1 to help children respond to their parents' leadership and authority. He didn't mean for parents to use it to pistol-whip their kids. One of the standard ploys of grace-less Christian parents is to abuse Scripture to get their own way. I've seen husbands do the same thing with a verse directed to wives... a lot of men use this verse like some kind of ball-peen hammer to metaphorically whack their wives into submission to their selfish agenda. Ephesians 5:22 is between a wife and God, not a husband and a wife... These verses aren't weapons."
--- "... he wanted to raise 'safe' kids. My wife and I would rather raise strong kids..."