If you’re familiar with Family Matters and Dr. Kimmel you are no doubt familiar with his outstanding work, Grace Based Parenting. The idea of parenting with grace directed toward your children is crucial, and many families have benefited greatly from this teaching. This past week, as I found myself in the midst of a critical situation involving another family, I pondered this question in my mind – where do parents find grace?
The situation involved a father who was shell-shocked that his child had tried to hurt himself, and in all honesty was beating himself up for not seeing signs, or recognizing his child had been in distress. I, along with others, attempted to comfort him as best we could but it was obvious he was going to have to undergo a process of healing himself. Failure as a parent is something we all fear, and something we all have to come face-to-face with at times. Whether it is failure in a moment, or recognizing failure over an extended period of time, when we recognize it – it is ugly, and painful, and depressing. In that moment, we need parental grace.
Our culture has manipulated us into hiding our faults and covering our weaknesses. It has brought us to the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector told in Luke 18, where we stand as the Pharisee and compare ourselves to other parents and cry, “At least we’re not like THEM.” The more we hide and cover…the more we keep our failures a secret…the farther we push grace away. So where do we find the grace we so richly need as parents? Our first and most important place is in Christ.We often use the phrase “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” as a motivational tool for getting through a troubled day, or working through a big work presentation, etc…but I believe it’s bigger than that. We can parent through Christ who strengthens us. We find our grace and forgiveness in Him, and we confess and correct our weakness as parents through His power. Since we are creatures created for community, I believe our second greatest place to find grace is with other parents. Whether it is in a church based group, or just a neighborhood group you create we need to be in fellowship with other parents. We need to be honest with each other, and transparent. We need to know that these groups are safe places where what we say won’t be used against us but instead will foster grace and comfort as we work through our failures together. We can’t parent alone – we need Christ, and we need each other.
I encourage you who read this to find grace – find it first within the power of Christ, and second within the power of community. Maybe it begins with you and just one other set of parents…or maybe it’s begins with something bigger. However it starts, just do it. The only way we can dispense grace to our kids is to digest grace ourselves. To quote the great theologian Bono from U2 and their song titled Grace – “Grace, it’s a name for a girl, it’s also a thought that changed the world.”