I am a fan of grace. There are times in my life when I knew that talking about grace wasn’t going to be enough. Grace is undeserved favor and nothing I could do in a given situation was going to change the way I’d blown it. I’ve needed grace with my wife, my congregants and with my children. I can sing about it but not until I sit under the gracious forgiveness of another do I realize how precious grace is.
Grace is the grease of a good home. Tim Kimmel, in his book, Grace-based Parenting, says there are four things essential for grace-based parenting in the home. First, children are given the “freedom to be different.” Second, children are given the “freedom to be vulnerable.” Third, children are given the “freedom to be candid.” Fourth, children are given the “freedom to make mistakes.” (p. 134).
These four freedoms of being different, vulnerable, candid and of making mistakes, allow the family to find ‘natural and reasonable solutions’ to struggles. They are a grid and a filter to process through when founded on a recognition of the inner needs of a secure love, a significant purpose, and a strong hope.
12 Tasks allows families to come together and to discover grace together as you navigate the journey for your child into adulthood. Dr. Kimmel says that God has designed us with a “gnawing need for security, for significance, and for strength.” (p.134) If you set up tasks that are unreachable for your child then you are not demonstrating grace. We want to build confidence that will increase a sense of security, significance and strength. Much of that will be done with you nearby for the hardest challenges.
I sat down with a young woman the other day who acknowledged that she found herself trapped in a broken world. She had embraced a faith in Jesus which she said had given her hope but she had kept her old friendship circle without developing a new support system in line with the values she wanted to embrace. She said that life was like being on a bungee cord. She would work hard to escape an element of her own brokenness but then her friends would reach out and pull her back into her old habits. Finding a solid support community that is gracious but willing to hold your child accountable is crucial.
Kimmel says “The primary way to give our children grace is to offer it in place of our selfish preferences. They receive grace when we choose not to commit sins against their hearts when our human nature would suggest that it would be okay to do so. In fact, the greater grace that children receive is when we can even see the sins we are inclined to commit against their hearts followed by our willingness to go against our selfish urges. So much grace is stolen in the heat of a moment by our selfishness. Kids want things, need things, say things, or do things that either bother us, embarrass us, or hurt us. But sometimes the reason we are hurt is because we might be exercising immaturity, insecurity or indifference. We take things that are huge to children and trivialize them, or we take small issues and magnify them out of proportion. “
12 Tasks is structured to help you discover the unique differences built into your child by God. We’re not speaking of ill-mannered or disrespectful behavior. Children who grow up with a sense of wonder and adventure should not have this bent denied through overly restrictive measures. Pay attention to the heart of your child. Not every request to be different is a defiant strike against your authority.
Kimmel talks about fads and trends for our children. Fads are brief quirks of fashion, accessory or behaviors adapted by a few while trends are longer term elements embraced by a culture. You can help your child discern. A fad is “lime-green sneakers with purpose shoestrings.” A trend is sneakers. “A fad is a glow-in-the-dark cell phone that plays James Brown’s “I Feel Good’ every time someone calls. A trend is a cell phone.” (p.146) Fads and trends can include clothing, hairstyles and music.
In the area of music, for example, Dr. Kimmel says that “When children are young and far more impressionable, we need to protect them from music whose lyrics are antagonistic to the Bible’s overriding message or your moral world-view. As they get older and we move into the age of preparation, the shrewd parent sits down with the children and listen to the music they’re drawn to. This is a wonderful act of grace that doesn’t put down their different tastes in music, Instead, this process helps them learn how to maturely process and filter the music.”
Finding a support community that aligns with your morals and values as you go through 12 Tasks will encourage you in the fundamentals of grace-based parenting. Trying to do this alone may challenge you more than it will challenge your child. Be alert and aware about the sense of grace you are building into your child as you walk alongside them into adulthood. Bless you as you do.