We often think a show of grace means giving someone a special favor or showing them kindness even when they don’t deserve it. This is true, but grace goes even further. Grace sacrifices. Grace gives of itself, even gives up the self, to pave the way for another person to become healthier and more mature. As any parent discovers, becoming a parent is a practice in the grace of giving up their selves for their children, sometimes in subtle & often in difficult ways. For instance, discipline is an act of grace. No one likes to see their child uncomfortable. But in grace a parent gives up their own comfort and allows their child to sit in the discomfort of their poor choice. In a way, parents give up their own comfort to sit in discomfort like their child for the sake of their child’s long-term growth.
Sometimes a parent has to actively set a limit or enforce a rule. In anger, their child may look at them with hatred. They may even say, “I hate you.” When this happens, a parent gives up their desire to be understood and loved so their child can grow more mature. They have shown grace in an effort to help their child become a more mature person.
Other similarly gracious moments arise every day, moments of giving “hard grace” by giving up the desire to be liked 100% of the time, understood and appreciated for difficult decisions, and free to observe our children’s joy at all times. These “little moments” of grace occur daily in limits like:
- “Save your snack for after dinner so you don’t ruin your appetite.”
- “Leave your phone in the kitchen to charge overnight. That way it will get a full charge and you can get a good night’s sleep.”
- “Please use polite, respectful language…even when you’re angry.”
- “Finish your homework, then you can meet your friends.”
- “Be kind to that kid at school, even if everyone else is mean to him/her. If you were in his/her place, wouldn’t you want a friend?”
The list goes on. Grace, giving ourselves up for our children’s maturity, may be one of the most difficult aspects of parenting. But the long-term dividends are amazing—an adult child who is kind, loving, compassionate…and full of grace themselves.