Saturday, May 24, 2008

Book Review: Grace Based Parenting

Good Morning! Yes, I know I skipped yesterday's post. I tried, I really did, but I was hit with such a bad case of writer's block that I just procrastinated until finally it's now Saturday morning! (Sorry, Mark!)

Ok, I have recently read a jewel of a book by Dr. Tim Kimmel: Grace Based Parenting. It actually is my first foray into the realm of parenting books, and it wasn't scary or guilt-tripping, as I fear parenting books could be. Before Scott and I became parents we watched other parents. How did they do it? Were they too strict or too free? We would go home and often compare notes on the pros or cons of the parenting we'd observed. One of the things we really liked was when parents would seem to know that fine balance of letting their kids discover themselves and were involved in their lives, but not so much "freedom" that the kids had no boundaries at all.
For example, if a kid was going through a strange hair phase, it seemed right to us that the parents would discuss it with the kid and allow it if it didn't violate any kind of moral issues. (How often does hair actually do that?) I found this book to be right along this line of thinking. Dr. Kimmel traces a line between extremes: parenting with boundaries in way to tight, and the other side with boundaries waay out there, maybe no boundaries at all. ( I don't have a name for this - it's not really freedom, maybe more like abandonment?) He categorizes some of the typical parenting methods he's seen as a contrast for Grace Based Parenting. The ones that have stood out the most to me are Fear-Based Parenting, and Control-Based Parenting. I think those descriptions stood out to me the most because I've seen them so clearly in others.

"How we view God determines how we parent our children." Do you agree?
When a parent believes God as Judge with no grace, their advice would include:

  1. "God is watching you and so am I.
  2. You may be bad, but you're better than so-and-so
  3. When it comes to boundaries, their exhortation to their children would be: 'If it feels good, it's probably wrong!' "

Contrast the Judgemental attitude with the Legalistic one:

  1. "You owe God, so you better get busy
  2. You may be bad, but if you try harder, you can ultimately please God
  3. When it comes to boundaries: 'If it feels good, stop it!' "

However, the Grace-based parents look like this:

  1. "You are a gift from God; go make a difference.
  2. You may struggle doing the right thing sometimes, but you're forgiven
  3. When it comes to boundaries: If it feels good, examine it"

"God helps grace-based parents see what matters and what doen't matter." That is so important! I don't want to waste my time and energy on things that don't matter. So then, what really matters? "What are the fundamental, driving needs that your child was born with? ...

  1. A need for security
  2. A need for significance
  3. A need for strength"

These three needs are answered with "a love that is secure, a purpose that is significant, and a hope that is strong."

So, if you aren't convinced yet, let me highly recommend this book to you! Dr. Kimmel has good ideas, but he doesn't just leave you hanging without the practical how-do-I-live-this-out aspect. Many of his illustrations hit my heart so hard I cried. May more children grow up in the arms of Grace.


1 comment:

Mark said...

Sounds like a great book Julie. I know how you feel about parenting books - yuck - but of course there is wisdom out there to be learned. Thanks for the review!