I was reading a popular parenting blog recently, and as I read I found myself discouraged and frustrated. The parent seemed to be advocating such harshness toward her children. I kept thinking, Where is the love? Where is the grace?
As I continued reading, I read this line, “We should expect nothing less than immediate, perfect obedience, 100% of the time. Anything less than that should result in consistent punishment, discipline, and consequences. You can’t let anything slide or it doesn’t work.”
Are we really expecting perfection from our children?
As I pondered that line, the word perfect jumped out at me and all my misgivings seemed to come together. Should we really expect perfection from our children? Is that even possible?
No. Perfection isn’t possible. It’s not possible for us, and it’s not possible for our children.
So many of the blogs that I have seen talking about upholding perfection as a standard for their children are the same ones advocating that moms “give yourselves grace when you have a bad day.”
Honestly, this double standard boggles my mind.
You yelled at your kids today? Give yourself grace.
You didn’t do the dishes, laundry, or cleaning? Give yourself grace.
You have eaten out every meal for a week because you haven’t felt like cooking? Give yourself grace.
You’ve slipped on the homeschool lessons? Give yourself grace.
Your kid asks to use the bathroom after bedtime? Immediate punishment every time. Be consistent and don’t ever let it slide.
Your kid has a bad attitude about chores today? Immediate punishment every time.
Do you see the double standard here? We want someone to tell us that it’s okay to mess up, while we’re telling our children that it’s not ever okay to mess up. We’re holding them to a standard we can’t live up to ourselves.
Jesus sets a high standard
Someone may say that the Lord has a high standard. I agree with that. The Lord calls us to holiness and there is no place for any amount of sin in our lives.
Jesus Christ came to earth as a man, and He lived a perfect life. He isn’t calling us to a life that He didn’t live himself. Yet that’s what we’re doing to our children.
How can I expect something from my children that I can’t even achieve myself?
Obedience is Important
Now, I’m not advocating that we shouldn’t have standards and expectations for our children. We should have high expectations for our children. We should teach them what is right, and what the Lord would have them to do in situations, even those that we haven’t yet mastered. But we should strive to be an example to them more than a teacher. “Do what I say and not what I do.” Is not an effective means of teaching.
And, yes, Obedience is important. We need to teach our children so that they can grow into responsible adults one day. We need to teach them the importance of submission to authority that they will hopefully apply to their Father, God in Heaven, one day. We need to trust that our kids will obey, because sometimes there can be a real safety issue in question.
But it’s okay to show them grace sometimes, too. It’s okay to let them know that you understand their bad day and that you have them too. Because mamas…we do have bad days.
There are days when I don’t especially feel like doing housework and have a bad attitude about it, or even days when I let the housework slide. Days when I might snap at my kids or even my husband. Days when we might even yell. Is it everyday? No, but it happens.
And on those days, which is more effective for you–someone yelling at you that you’re failing, or someone reaching out to you with love, kindness, and grace?
For most of us, someone yelling at us during our bad day is just going to make a bad situation worse, (“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs it up.”) But it’s amazing how quickly and effectively a kind word can turn it all around.
Maybe we can try that with our kids some time. Not every time. We do need to teach them to obey. But, sometimes, it’s okay to show our kids love and kindness, and grace even if we don’t think they deserve it at the moment.
I can’t count the number of times my Heavenly Father has done that to me.
Shock your kids by teaching them what grace is.