out of our choices, God rarely, if ever, flexes big muscles and
forces us to walk a certain path. Grace is the overarching story
between God and human.
The promise that we can control anyone other than
ourselves is quite prevalent as we look around at the voices and
practices in much of the parenting advice world. This is a myth.
Control by definition requires a level of fear and intimidation.
Yes, for a time, we are bigger and stronger than our children,
and on some level can force them to do certain things. But did
I really want fear-based compliance? As I gradually woke up to
the detrimental effects of strict parenting methods, my answer
to this question became “no.”
One of our daughters regularly reminds me of a
difficult truth of our relationship when she says, “You can’t
make me do anything.” In former days, I would have preached
a mini-sermon and doled out a punishment if a child interacted
with me like this. After years of reprogramming my parental
brain, I reach for different tools. I give honor to the emotions
around such encounters, remind her that in our family we can
express anything as long as we are respectful of one another,
and then we take the necessary time and intention to work
through the core feelings in each tantrum or disagreement.
Sometimes we have to separate for a period of time and then
return to the matter at hand. Each of us is granted a “time-out”
to process our emotions - my own response is most often to
practice deep breathing and get myself in a calmer state. This
approach certainly takes more time than doling out a rash and
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