I think this book has revolutionised my thinking in parenting like no other book I’ve read. Or maybe it’s grabbed me at just the right time, when my heart is primed to be navigating this journey with a different paradigm and set of tools in my backpack. For whatever reason, it has reasonated with me to the point where it has instantly changed the way I relate to my children. And for the better. YES!
I’ve read more philosophies and perspectives on parenting than I can count. So why this one?
Tim Kimmel doesn’t wade into strategies and techniques. He doesn’t give a breakdown of what to do in any given situation. There are no rules and checklists. And, unlike some books I’ve read, he doesn’t express what is more or less a cultural paradigm and call it ‘biblical’. Rather, he outlines how to, above all, create an environment of grace in which your children can cultivate their own faith and learn to lean into God to empower them to overcome sin and live out their purpose on the earth with intentionality and not passivity.
The foundational premise of this book is that we are all born with the same condition and the same need for a Saviour. Our children are no different to us in this regard. It is our job to point our children to Him and to draw from the power and presence of heaven, as they struggle through their natural bent to sin to overcome. They will form an inner strength and character to overcome circumstances if we teach them to do this.
The Father relates to us with gentleness, unconditional love, and by laying a strong sense of purpose and hope in our hearts. What a model for us to look to, as we emulate His ways as parents!
“Grace Based Parenting” also provides a matrix which serves as a useful summary – what your child’s three driving inner needs are, and the four basic things you need to do to maintain a grace-based environment.
I feel equipped with a way of approaching parenting that I can naturally and intentionally run through my own filters as we seek to create a grace-based environment that works in our family’s particular circumstances.
What grace-based parenting IS about: empowerment; forgiveness; boundaries; responsibility; grace to make mistakes; freedom to be vulnerable; freedom to have open and honest communication; and, allowing the freedom for your child to be uniquely different.
What grace-based parenting IS NOT: fear-based; legalistic; overly permissive; highly controlled. Most of all, it’s not about fear!
I feel myself becoming more and more free from the terrifying fear of damaging my children’s perspective of the Father, to the point where they do not eventually choose Him. We all want to see our precious ones on the other side. Trust me, I have anguished over this too.
But whether we get the strategies right or wrong, what we should perhaps focus on foremost is that our children are immersed and raised in an environment of grace; I love how Tim puts it:
He chose you to assist Him in a miracle. He gave you children and then said, “Now go, and give these precious lives meaning.” … This is where many parents panic. When they realise that their job is to raise up children to love and serve and God, they wonder how on earth they will do that. The answer isn’t on earth. It’s found in heaven. It’s sitting on an eternal throne. He has many names, but among my favourites is “The God of Grace.” You wonder, How am I to raise up children to love and serve God? The answer is actually not that difficult. You simply treat your children the way God treats you. He does it in His grace. And here’s the good part. If the only thing you get right as parents is His grace, everything else will be just fine.
** Photo Credit: My favourite portrayal of Jesus is by Bruce Marchiano in the Gospel According to Matthew. This stunning picture has touched my heart for years. Visit Bruce’s website here.