One of my goals this year is to read at least 2 parenting books. I love to read, but with all the new chaos of having our second child last year, I haven’t had a lot of time or energy for it lately. But now that things are calming down a little I am finally getting to some books that I’ve wanted to read for some time.
Maybe it’s just me, but with my kids I have felt like the first year was actually kind of easy (in a way). Don’t get me wrong, it was a ton of work, but I felt like I just had to keep him alive and help him develop and grow. Beginning at about 12 months I felt like things got infinitely harder as we began to make decisions about how we would actually parent our child. Not just keep him alive and healthy, but begin to help mold his mind and heart. Mentally it’s so exhausting and I find it incredibly helpful to take in the advice of parents who have been there and read as much as we can. My husband came across Grace-Based Parenting and liked what it had to say, so he passed it on to me.
In Grace Based Parenting Dr. Tim Kimmel speaks on the importance of modeling grace to our children. God has shown us immense grace as His children and so it is fitting that we follow His example and display grace in our relationships with others including our children. To give our children a full picture of God’s grace we need to provide them with a love that is secure, a purpose that is significant, and a hope that is strong.
Dr. Kimmel elaborates on each of these parts of grace-based parenting, showing Biblical support and real life examples of each one. I related to so many, many parts of this book that this review would be far too long if I elaborated on each of them, but I want to speak to the part of the book that spoke to me the most:
Safe Christian Parenting
As a mother, I find myself at times overwhelmed with fear for my boys. A lot of my fears for them center around sending them off into the world on their own. Will they be teased and bullied in school? Will they make friends who are bad influences? What if there is a shooting at their school? My instinct as a mom is to want to protect them from any harm that might befall them.
But I can’t. Life simply isn’t safe. God doesn’t call us to live a safe life. He calls us to live a life that is full of adventure for him. One that is deep and rich and meaningful. And if I make decisions based on my fears instead of relying on God’s leading, it could have a detrimental effect on my children. Listen to what Dr. Kimmel says:
“Those who think that the wisest way to groom a child for spiritual maturity is to isolate him from the evil, corrupted world system or airbrush his childhood environment so much that it exposes only him to the good and never teaches him how to process the bad (or the counterfeit) will set a child up for mediocrity at best and spiritual annihilation at the worst. Just think of how ineffective our military would be if we didn’t train them in simulated scenarios that reflect the true nature of the challenges they will ultimately meet on the battlefield.”
This whole idea of sending my sons into battle scares me, but I know that they will eventually go into battle and it is our job as parents to equip them for the fight. Above all, I believe that in the face of all of this, my kids need to see that I have a peace that comes from my hope in God.
“Obviously God wants us to shrewdly bring up our children within a corrupted world system, careful to make sure that they don’t have to process issues too big for them. Many parents assume that all pressures from the corrupted world are too big for their children. The fact is that without God’s power working in us, no one- whether a child or an adult- is any match for the world system. But when we put our confidence in God’s power rather than the safety nets we place around our children, we find that even children can learn to rely on God’s overwhelming presence to protect them as well as to enable them to flourish in the world system.”
I liked this book a lot because of how Dr. Kimmel points us back to the Bible to remind us of who God is. As a parent I do get overwhelmed when I look at all the problems and dangers in the world around me, but when I focus on God, who He is, what He has done, and what He will do, I know that my children will be safe.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)”
When I focus my thought life on the truth that God loves my children and is far more powerful than the world around us, I release my fears and rest in the peaceful hope that I have in Him. And in doing so, I model that hope for my boys and help them to take it on as their own, equipping them for the battle.
If you want to know more about Grace-Based parenting, check out the resources at Family Matters. There are additional books, video series, and more available.