In preparation of impending fatherhood I have started reading a wonderful book entitled Grace Based Parenting. Vicky thinks I should focus on books that will prepare me for how hard it is going to be with twin babies. I find that idea to be quite superfluous. I mean, I don’t need a book to tell me how much getting kicked in the balls will hurt. Nor do I need a book to tell me how to brace myself for getting kicked in the balls. No, when kicked in the balls, it’s best to ride out the pain and find the best way to move forward (or get off the ground). So I am focusing on books about how to be a good daddy. I’ll just binge on the how-to stuff when the babies get here.
Grace Based Parenting has been both wonderful and hard to read. It has been wonderful in that it has filled me with much hope and excitement about what being a parent means. You get to teach a kid how to be a human, and really, you get to love them and teach them how to love. This has me bouncing off the wall like a hypoglycemic kid at a candy store. It is hard in that it warns us of all the ways that we can jack up our kids. And let’s be honest, there are a lot of jacked up kids in the world. Just take a trip down to the mall on a Saturday and you’ll see both jacked up teens as well as parents preparing their toddlers to be jacked up teens.
The premise of Grace Based Parenting is that “grace” based parents will helped their kids develop into mature adults who bless society instead of developing into jacked up drains on society. Or to make a more timely reference, it helps us raise Mandy Moores and not Lindsay Lohans. As a future father of a daughter I can say that a daily trip to TMZ.com greatly inflames my desire to be a parent who uses “grace” as a primary parenting tool.
Grace Based Parenting contends that grace is the best philosophy for parenting in that love is freely given not earned or withheld based on performance. We get this concept from God who, instead of dealing with us as we deserved, lovingly sent Jesus to take our place on the cross, and through his blood, cleanse us of all our sin. Because of this grace of God we receive only love and favor from God instead of his wrath and punishment. This grace provides the basis for our development as children of God.
Here’s a practical thought about being a Grace Based Parent: what would it mean for a child if they knew that nothing they did could make us love them any less?
In processing how to become a Grace Based Parent, I have encountered a MAJOR problem: I cannot say that I am a grace based husband. This is weird considering all that Vicky and I have been through in over five years of marriage. We had to see a counselor our first year just to get through, and then the next few years seemed like a tough climb We have been two passionate, immature people seeking to learn how to become one with one another as we traveled through life.
How we could have continued to grow and yet I still see myself as lacking so much grace in how I interact with my wife?
The answer: we have learned how to accommodate each others sinful behavior, instead of giving grace to each other.
My wife has subtlety learned how to accommodate an over-zealous, know it all, bossy, hot-head who must tell everyone around them how everything should be. In some amazing way she has found a way to subvert a hypo-critical theological and grammatical neat-nick. And I have learned to have fewer outbursts, apologize quicker, all the while subverting repentance and change. We aren’t holier or better people, we’re just more accommodating. And a marriage based on accommodation will lead to Accommodation Based Parenting, not Grace Based Parenting.
My prayer is that as I am learning methods to help me be a good father that those principles will find their first fruits in my behavior as a husband. That I would learn to repent of being a selfish control freak and learn to create an environment where grace enables my wife and I to best enjoy each other and God. I pray that you would also consider the ways that you have decided to accommodate instead of being sanctified in your relationships. I pray that we all would commit to repenting of our sin and eagerly showing grace to each other instead of finding ways to hide it, or accept the ways that others accommodate for it. God has dealt with our sin in Jesus, now we get to live in the freedom that grace supplies.