What Becoming a Parent has Taught Me About Grace

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Guest Post: Kamsin Kaneko

I’m still new to this parenting thing. It’s a pretty steep learning curve. Some days I think I’m doing OK, some days not so much. But even at 3am, a little boy saying “Mommy hug” can make it all worthwhile.

I treated becoming a parent the same way I treat everything else, by hitting the books. I’ve spent the last 22 months consuming books and blog posts looking for the answers I need. This is totally normal, right?

There is a lot of advice out there. Some of it is judgmental. Some of it makes it all sound so easy if I can just crack the perfect parent code. Some of it is downright damaging to parents and their small people.

There is no one size fits all method to raising good children and being a good parent. Our children are not machines which will function correctly as long as we’ve input the right data. Who knew?

But as I kept reading through all the opinions and judgment, I found advice which was based on current knowledge of how a child’s brain functions.

Various adjectives are used to describe this alternative way of parenting. Positive, mindful, gentle, peaceful. The more I read the more it started to sound like grace.

The science shows that traditional methods of punishment based on punitive discipline don’t work. What our children need is relationship, connection and positive guidance. They need our unconditional love.

Time outs and arbitrary consequences harm your relationship with your child rather than build it. If your child obeys you because they’re afraid of the consequences, what are they actually learning? You only love them and will only provide support when they do the things you want?

You may in fact push the child further away, making them less likely to want to do what you ask.

A small child has no control over all the big emotions and impulses that toddlers are well-known for having. The idea that they are manipulating or faking their tantrums to get what they want is not founded in the science. And think for a moment about what you are feeling when life overwhelms you and all you want to do is shout and throw things on the floor.

Are we not all sometimes a disobedient two-year old? Crossing our arms, stomping our feet and yelling “no, no, no”. Do we need to be punished and sent to bed without any supper or do we just need a hug and someone to listen to our problems?

As a parent we need to help our children learn how to deal with the big emotions that overwhelm them. We need to set clear and consistent boundaries so they know how the world works. And then love the socks off them.

God’s Grace is the ultimate example of a perfect parent

And what does God do when we mess up? Does he withdraw from us and make us stay on the punishment step until we’ve learned our lesson? No, he draws us close. He loves us and keeps on giving us good things anyway.

God wants us to obey Him and follow His guidance because we love Him, not out of blind fear.

His love and favor is based on our being His children, not on whether or not we behave the correct way.

God’s role is not to give us everything that we want. Just like a mother cannot give her child everything he or she wants. There are always lessons that need to be learned and rules that need to be enforced for everyone’s well-being.

Sometimes we have to learn to wait and sometimes we have to learn we can’t have what we want. But God will be there while we have a tantrum about that fact. He will wait while we calm down. Comfort us. And guide us while we find the solution to whatever problem we are facing.

There may be times when God will step in and make the impossible happen. We call that a miracle. But mostly He wants us to grow to maturity and use the gifts He’s given us to find the answers we need.

God has it all under control. He knows whatever situation we’re in will not overcome us. To a toddler it may well feel like the world will end if he doesn’t get everything he wants right now.

When we face difficulties we can feel like we’ll be consumed. God’s role is to sit quietly and let us know we will not be overcome.

So I keep asking myself how I can become a better parent. Perhaps I just need to remember that I am a child too. I am God’s child and I need to spend more time learning from my heavenly Father. He is the source of unconditional love, the model of amazing grace.

Meet the Author:

Kamsin is an Englishwoman living in Yokohama, Japan with her one year old son, her Japanese husband and an American Shorthair cat. She writes about parenting, travel and living a purpose-filled life. You can follow Kamsin on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Go check out her blog, Life In the Key of E!

Kamsin also shared another post on Heartskeeper. You can read it here.

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6 thoughts on “What Becoming a Parent has Taught Me About Grace

  1. This truly was extremely eye opening. Being completely opposite and NEVER reading any parenting books I love what you had to say. It was beautiful and full of truth!

  2. Love this, Kamsin. As a hopeful future parent, I love hearing about how to integrate my faith and healthy parenting. Thanks for this!

  3. “I treated becoming a parent the same way I treat everything else, by hitting the books. I’ve spent the last 22 months consuming books and blog posts looking for the answers I need. This is totally normal, right?” Not sure about normal 😉 but I can totally relate because that’s what I did, and still do 🙂

    “God’s Grace is the ultimate example of a perfect parent” – this is so true! There were times when I was at the end of my wits dealing with my kids, and I would hear a still small voice saying, “give them grace” and I would … the results were amazing …

    Thanks for this post Kamsin!

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