Weeks ago, I entered uncharted territory and posted a few book reviews here on my blog. You see, I recently made a commitment to spend more time in the literary word, and as a result, I've been attempting to slowly work my way through the list I created months ago (as for the reviews, I just wanted to share :). A few titles have been added, a few bunny trails taken. But all in all, it's been a very enlightening (and delightful) experience.
Well, it's time to add another title to that you-guys-really-must-read-this-one list. It's called Grace-Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel, and it's simply the best parenting book I've read yet (and believe you me, I've read lots). Now I hesitate to recommend anything... ever... because what appeals to me may in no way, shape, or form appeal to anyone else, but this book-- well, you simply don't want to miss it. If you have little people (or even not-so-little people), you really, really, really want to pick this one up. And I mean... really. It's that good.
Between the covers of this book, Dr. Kimmel is real. He's honest. He's practical. And he's right on the money. His presentation is chock full of Scripture, and his personal examples are priceless. Much of it I've read twice now, and I've committed myself to rereading it in its entirety every year... because it's that good. And appropriate. And necessary.
Of course I could paraphrase all sorts of passages in an attempt to convince you to grab it off the library shelf, but instead I'll just share a few of my favorites... in Dr. Kimmel's words.... because he says it so much better than I.
If God our heavenly Father is the perfect Father,
and the primary way that he deals with us as humans is through the power of His grace,
it stands to reason that grace forms the best template
for bringing out the best in our own children. (p 28)
At the core of grace is love--
a love that delights in us in spite of our sin and comes to us free of charge.
Love emanates straight from the heart of God...
[Secure love] is a steady and sure love that is written on the hard drive of children's souls.
It's a complete love that they default to when their hearts are under attack.
It's the kind of love that children can confidently carry with them into the future. (p 46)
... if the bottom line of parenting is grace,
then that should affect how you develop goals for your children,
how you handle discipline, how you process their fears,
how you deal with the quirks and idiosyncrasies,
and how you respond to their fads.
Grace keeps you from clamping down on their spirits
when they move through awkward transitions
and walk through the valley of the shadow of adolescence.
The reason grace makes the most sense as a bottom line for parenting
is because of grace's eternal appeal to the human heart. (p 29)
Grace can't be some abstract concept that you talk about in your home.
It has to be real-time action
that ultimately imprints itself on your children's hearts. (p140)
What happens inside the four walls of a family home
does more to affect the outcome of children's lives than any other single factor...
If you're sleepwalking through the defining factors of your children's lives,
you can handicap their ability
to be all that God meant them to be when they become adults.
Grace keeps you from tilting too far to one side or too far to the other.
It works just like a carpenter's level.
Grace helps you find the balance point in a world of extremes
and keeps you from investing your energies in a long list of things that don't matter.
Grace provides equilibrium for a family.
Where too many parents are concerned with how others view their children,
grace-based parents are more excited with how God views their children.
Grace-based parents avoid the silly preoccupations
with arbitrary standards devised by evangelical busybodies.
They keep their eye on the bubble in the level, which is their children's character.
To them, keeping their children balanced when it comes to faith,
integrity, poise, discipline, endurance, and courage
makes more sense than worrying about whether others think
their children look spiritual enough (whatever that means)...
In the process, they encourage their children to find the unique individual
that God designed them to be
through an intimate and authentic relationship with Christ. (p 211-212)
Grace-based parents realize that their children need security in their hearts,
significance in their lives, and strength for the future.
They also know that these things don't come via prepackaged programs based on clever formulas.
These things come by way of the heart--
transferred through parents who enjoy a grace relationship with Christ...
Grace-based parenting is not a checklist for parenting;
it's a lifestyle.
It's a clear attempt to retrofit your minds to respond to your children
in the same way God responds to you. (p 212-213)
Grace-based parenting... captures the heart of God in an all-encompassing way.
Grace includes His love, embraces His mercy, and honors His sacrifice...
You have been singled out to do a favor for God.
He is asking you to be His representative to a small but vital part of the next generation.
He needs someone to be His voice, His arms, and His heart.
He chose you.
He chose you to assist Him in a miracle.
He gave you children and then said, "Now go, and give these precious lives meaning."
It's a mandate that comes with a great reward if you succeed,
but a heavy price if you fail. This is where many parents panic.
When they realize that their job is to raise up children to love and serve 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 favorites 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 need to treat your children the way God treats you. (p 228)