There’s a lot of tension in our home and our kids don't like living under our roof. My husband and I don't know what we're doing wrong. Any suggestions?
The fact is, in our families all over the country, there is a lot stress, a lot of tension, a lot of sibling rivalry, a lot of competition, a lack of respect, a ton of disrespect.
You can change that.
I want to share with you something that any family can do that can automatically bring up the stock value of everybody involved. This is called “bringing the best out of everybody.” I like to call this “grace-based parenting.”
It is fundamental to parents who really want to raise kids who enjoy being around their home and grow up to be great people.
Now, there are four things that grace-based families do. Remember, the idea of grace is “treating each other favorably,” to start with the presupposition that “life isn’t about me, it’s about other people.” You especially want to bring the best out of these kids.
A grace-based home creates an atmosphere of grace where you give your children the freedom to be different. See, a lot of the stress that comes into a family is because the parents don’t allow the kids to be different.
Let me give you some synonyms, so you know what I’m talking about. You let your kids be weird, or bizarre, or strange, or goofy, or quirky. See, kids are very annoying sometimes, and embarrassing, and yet a lot of things they are doing aren’t wrong—but when we turn around and make it wrong, and we say, “What you’re doing, you need to stop it, because it’s really annoying me or it’s embarrassing me,” that really ticks them off, because they know deep down in their heart, “I’m not doing anything wrong. You just made it that way.”
So you want to give your kids the freedom to be different. Let them go through their stages.
Little girls, what do they do? They chat all the time, they have imaginary friends. What do little boys do? They do head butts into trees. Why? I don’t know. They just do.
As they become teenagers, they have those weird ideas with their hair and the way they dress. They want to look like they were dragged behind the bus to school. That’s just normal. That’s just teenagers.
Don’t make this a moral issue. Don’t make this an area where you are going to struggle with them. Just let your kids be different.
Now, make sure you understand what I’m saying. I’m not saying you’re letting them do things that are clearly wrong, clearly sinful, or whatever word you want to use. We’re not talking about that. We’re just letting them be different.
Then the second thing is, you want to let them be vulnerable, so that they know their home is a place where they can safely let their emotions come to the surface, without fear that those emotions are going to be attacked or trivialized. They have got to know that when they share what is going on in their heart, that you show respect for that, and you want to help them.
So, you give them the freedom to be different, and the freedom to be vulnerable.
Thirdly, you want to give your friends the freedom to be candid—now, this can be scary—because they need to be able to tell you what is going on inside their head. Maybe there are some doubts they are having. Maybe there are some fears that they are having. Maybe there are some problems that they having with you, because we all make mistakes. All parents put their shoes over feet of clay. We all do. But they need to be able to tell you that.
When there is a gracious atmosphere, where they can exchange with you and tell you, “I’m having a problem with you,” and it’s done in a respectful way, well, that takes so much stress out of it. When they tell you about a problem they are having with you, they always do it respectfully, and always make sure that you speak respectfully to them when you are having a problem with them.
An atmosphere of grace gives them the freedom to be different. Give your kids the freedom to make mistakes.
Now, that doesn’t mean that you are letting them get away with murder, that there aren’t standards. In fact, in a grace-based home, the standards are very high, the boundaries are very clear. But kids are going to make mistakes, and you just want to make sure that no matter what they do, it’s not the end of the world. You’re not going to write them off. Bush you are going to correct them, because discipline and correction are part of treating kids favorably. It says, “I love you too much to let you grow up to be a bad person. I’m going to correct you.”
When you create this atmosphere that the air they breath gives them the freedom to be different, vulnerable, candid, and make mistakes, you automatically bring the best out of them.
And you are going to see a lot of this tension just go away.