So, I decided to read the book "Grace Based Parenting" by Dr. Tim Kimmel (because I need some help). I highly recommend the book.
Grace based parenting is parenting through a filter that meets the 3 inner needs of your child. They are the need for security, the need for significance, and the need for strength. We parent this way by giving our children three valuable gifts: love, purpose, and hope.
"If we've done our job adequately,
our children should leave our homes with
a love that is secure,
a purpose that is significant,
and a hope that is strong." (p25)
I want this for my children. I want my relationship with the living God to be personal and evident to my children. In order to meet the inner needs of my children, I must refocus my time with God, slow down in midst of renovations, and listen to both what God is saying as well as what my children are telling me.
I was recently faced with a time where my oldest, Josiah, needed me to parent his deep, inner needs.
It was last Tuesday when I walked into my son's homeschool co-op program to pick him up and saw the downcast on his face. His shoulders were heavy and his eyes were watery. We hugged and I waited to talk to him until we reached our van.
"Josiah, why do you seem sad today?" I asked.
"It's just that there is this boy who won't let anyone be my friend. We were in the lunch room and he was making everyone go on his side and telling them to leave me alone."
"Oh, Josiah. I'm so sorry, honey. How did that make you feel?"
"It hurt my heart, Mom. But I didn't want my friend, "J", to break his friendship with the other boy. They've been friends for a long time and I'm the new kid. "J" told me that we can still be friends when the other kid is not around. I'm okay with that."
He teared up. I wanted to cry. I wanted to fix the problem by calling the boy's mom and calling the school, but I refrained after talking it all through with my husband. Josiah needs to work through this problem at school and we need him to know that we support him, we will protect him, and teach him that there is hope. If the problem escalates, then we will take further action.
That night, I put the other kids to bed and stayed up late with Josiah. I didn't want to forget about Josiah's day and leave his heart still hurting.
"Josiah," I said, "I'm sorry that you had a hard time today during lunch. I don't know the reasons why that boy acted the way he did, but I do know that we have to make sure our response is appropriate. What do you think your response should be?"
He responded with, "I need to continue to love him even when he is mean."
"You're right, Josiah!" I always admire his compassionate heart.
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time
we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Gal 6:9
"Mom, I think we should pray for him. Maybe he has a bully in his life or something. I don't know him very well, but maybe if I do then I can be his friend and help him to be nice to everyone."
"I think that's a great idea. Let's pray now."
So, we prayed for this boy at his school that night and every night until school the next Tuesday.
I sent Josiah off to school while praying over him and his day. I even wrote him a simple note telling him to "be brave" and that he was "a great kid." I spent the day watching the clock and my stomach knotted up when it was lunch time. "Jesus, protect my son. Help him to shine your love, your goodness, & your kindness even in the toughest of times. Amen."
I anxiously waited outside of his school until his class was over. When he saw me, he greeted me with the best hug.
"How was your day?" I asked.
"Mom, it was great!"
"It was! Tell me about it." I replied.
"Remember that boy that I was telling you about? We played cards together today and I think he wants to be my friend! He was nice to me."
"See, Josiah, God answered your prayer! There will be good days and hard days between friends, but today we rejoice in the good of new friendship! I'm so happy for you!"
My heart was lifted.
This is the first of many times that one of my children will have their feelings hurt by someone else. And although I'd love to keep them in a tight bubble sheltered from the world, I know that is not what God intends for me to do as their parent. It is in these trials that I hope to teach my children about God's grace.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses,
but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are
—yet he did not sin.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Heb 4:15-16)
I do not have all the answers, nor do I parent perfectly. For this, I rejoice in the grace given to me by God. Like the Apostle Paul, I have a humbling list of failures, and "although I am the least of the Lord's people, God's grace was given to me" (Eph. 3:7-9).
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me;
my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task
the Lord Jesus has given me
—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. Acts 20:24