This was a question asked by a facebook friend this morning. I can only assume that she was asking for advice, seeing as she and her husband adopted 3 children a couple of years ago. She never knew how many thoughts and emotions would flood my mind as I tried to answer that question for myself.
"How do I show grace to Jacob and Caleb?"
My first thought was "I always give them a second chance," "I explain to them that mommy could have spanked but she didn't" or "I just don't get on to them at all because they didn't really mean to do it." Are any of these really showing grace? Or am I just enabling them to disobey to the point that they end up getting a spanking anyway? The thing is, is that all of these methods are done out of a good heart but in the end it's not really showing them grace at all.
Can they truly understand the concept of grace if they've never been disciplined in the first place? Isn't the idea of grace, knowing that you've done something wrong but you've been forgiven because the other person was gracious? How do we know we've done something wrong? By being told (disciplined).
When kids are young they can't possibly understand the concept of grace because it's too abstract of a thought. They need the absolute of discipline before they can ever start to comprehend the concept of grace. So, when I try to show my 3 year old grace, it's more or less me just being a pushover and letting him get away with things that really should be addressed the first time. At some point the discipline should start evolving into a grace lesson and I believe that the age for this will be different with each child.
I struggle with this process. I aim to please way too much and I let my child's emotions get the best of me. I give in when I need to stand firm. I am doing my children no favors by extending them the amount grace and freedom that they get. I'm only setting them up to take for granted the grace that Christ offers to them.
So now, I pose the question again..."How do you show your kids grace?"
My answer now will be to discipline and stand firm in your discipline when they are young so that when they are older they will understand with full knowledge why grace is so awesome! If they don't understand the weight of their sin they will never fully appreciate the grace that is offered to them. Keep in mind too that kids follow by example so show them grace by extending it to your husband, your friends and your family. Or teaching them to give grace to their friends when they do them wrong.
"Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
but the rod of discipline drives it far from him."