by Dr. Tim Kimmel
A couple months ago I was asked to participate in a local homeschool curriculum look-see and to provide a table with books that would encourage building relationships with our children. Since I had just completed the Moore interviews, of course those books were part of my display. But as moms stopped by the table that morning and I listened to them talk about their goals for homeschooling, I repeatedly suggested reading Grace-Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel.
Though not a book written specifically for homeschoolers, Dr. Kimmel’s approach to building positive relationships with children is a practical one that will enable parents to set the tone of grace in their homes and smoothly transition with their children from childhood, through adolescence, and into adulthood. And it is just the material for homeschoolers that I feel is missing in much of what is taught and marketed to homeschooling families today!
Using the relationship of our Heavenly Father as the model, Dr. Kimmel does not hand out a check list of impossible standards but rather paints a picture of God’s grace in a believers’ life, demonstrating how that same grace ought to be poured out into the lives of our children. He begins his book by examining the two common parenting extremes and he explains how both of these views are equally spiritually toxic to children, eventually driving them away from the relationship with Christ we want them to have.
The first extreme view of parenting is that of having few if any boundaries. These parents don’t get involved with their children’s friends, they allow their children complete freedom on television and on the internet, allow them to date in junior high, and even provide hotel rooms for their after prom activities. Though most of us don’t believe Christian parents have this mindset, I hear this sort of discussion often among parents who take their kids to church but who don’t understand their God-given role as moms and dads in everyday life.
At the other extreme end of the spectrum are those parents who bring in their parenting boundaries far too tightly, placing undue burdens on their children, building fences where none should exist. Unfortunately, it is homeschooling families who are more apt to gravitate toward this end of the spectrum, often believing that those fences give them more approval or protection from God.
In contrast to these views, Dr. Kimmel shows us what a grace-based family will look like:
“Grace-based parents spend their time entrusting themselves to Christ. They live to know God more. Their children are the daily recipients of the grace these parents are enjoying from the Lord. If you watch them in action, they appear to be peaceful and very much in love with God. They are especially graceful when their children are hardest to love. Their advice to their children would be a mixture of: “You are a gift from God, go make a difference” and “You may struggle doing the right thing sometimes, but you’re forgiven.”
Grace based families are a breath of fresh air. They process their day-to-day life with an air of confidence that comes from knowing God profoundly loves them. The key characteristic of grace-based families is that they aren’t afraid. They are especially unafraid of all the evil around them…This changes the way children view their parents and the choices they make on their behalf. It also gives children a much more attractive view of their parents’ faith.
Parents who operate by grace instead of by a checklist or popular opinion are a lot easier for their children to trust. And when a child’s world is falling apart, he is more inclined to turn to parents whose primary description is “grace.”
Grace-based parents have a keen awareness of their feet of clay. They understand their own propensity toward sin. This makes the grace and forgiveness they received from Christ much more appreciated. It stirs them to love and good deeds for the right reasons. They aren’t driven by guilt and the need to do penance. The last thing they want to do is stand in judgment of struggling people. They see themselves in these people and understand just how much of God’s love they have received. They are more inclined to want to love these people and care for the genuine needs in their life.”
And that was just from the introduction!
Dr. Kimmel goes on to offer antidotes to methods of toxic parenting and he does so by offering real solutions offered with grace, as you would expect! Grace-Based Parenting is tied for my number one relationship homeschooling book pick. Next week I will review my other number one choice!