Parenting and the Gift of Grace

As a mom, we get to experience the furry of the spirit coming into this world.  Wild and free and untamed.  In scientific language this means that the reasoning logical part of the brain is not fully developed until the mid-20s, according to a book called The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel (MD) and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson (PhD).

We parents experience all of the rawest and most intense emotions that come forth from the aching spirit.  

Don't believe me.  Have a child.  Bring them to a grocery store for the first time when they are two.  Say no... to ANYTHING they want.  Bam.  Tantrum.

Some kids may pout, some may shout, and some may throw such a scene, parents worry the store police will come running.  

This. Is. Normal.

I was not prepared to be a mom.  Not even a little bit.  I was shocked when my kid told me, I was the worse...  Just because I would not let her have another cookie...  Really?

And y'all know that is a VERY mild example.

Parenting is hard. 

It is so easy to match that intensity with a bark.  An immediate spanking.  A immediate demand for obedience and the R word, RESPECT.  

A good poem from Shel Silverstein's book, Where the Sidewalk Ends demonstrates the child's natural response perfectly: 

Please don't tell me I should hug,

Don't tell me I should care.

Don't tell me jus thow grand I'd feel

If I just learned to share.

Don't say, "It's all right to cry,"

"Be kind," "Be fair," "Be true."

Just let me see YOU do it,

Then I just might do it too.

Y'all.  Kids learn by example.  Not by your words.  I have seen so many kids fall in line due to fear, only to not be able to think for themselves, because they were never allowed.  Or, kids feel completely unloved and decide they are not lovable.

Or for some of us, we seem to think a session of reasoning and discussion will help our children understand right and wrong... which hands smack on forehead is ridiculous... I know now.  I'll spare you on this one if you are a new parent.  If you negotiate with your kids, they will win.  Every time. 

I believe kids are born like a block of marble.  They are chiseled into who they become.  They are chiseled by us as parents and their community. 

They can be chiseled by themselves, but let me give you a visual. Give a 2 year old a box of crayons and tell them to draw their family. 

Y'all, it ain't gonna look like anything.  If you think that child is ready to make decisions for themselves... 

I am here to tell you, cause I am guilty of this.  It doesn't work.

So, use the crayon test.  Then, when they are older use the pen or pencil test.  Then, one you get a good sense of their ability to comprehend and make good choices, then, it's time for choice.

I am not saying do not let them choose between a red pop sickle and a purple one.  I say keep it THAT simple for years... until they can pass the crayon/pencil test.

None of us are invincible to the zillions of mistakes we are going to make as parents.

But, I have learned something.  Something I learned from my dad.

For some reason, he always looked at us like he loved us. 

We might have gotten a few spankings in our day.  Or, had to sit in time out multiple times a summer day or write kazillions of sentences.  I still remember this one that I had to write at least 100 times.  "I will not hit, bite, or scratch Donovan." Yep, you read that correctly, I was in it to win it. Being the younger sibling, I had to use the weapons the good Lord dealt me.

All that aside... at the end of the punishment, it's like dad forgot.  His face would be soft.  His eyes kind.  And, he spoke with kindness.  And, he loved us with his eyes.

Just like that, all was restored.  It's like a rainbow just appeared out of nowhere and left me and my brother staring at it in wonder.

I didn't know it then, but dad was really good (and still is) at showing grace.  Grace is forgiving someone... even though they don't deserve it.

And guess one.  Grace is not only for our kids.  Yes, they are going through a lot of change and will challenge us to our ndth degree. But, guess what, we need Grace too.  

I am here to tell you that I put a lot of intention into giving my child Grace and I will also tell you, I receive A LOT of Grace back from my child.  This is a two way relationship.  This relationship is important to me.  

I don't let her run all over me, but 8 years into this relationship, I have a better sense than I did 5 years ago about when to step in with Grace and when to step in with authority. It's an art.  It's important to me, and I plan to continue working at it.

We have a thing that we say... something else my dad says to me.

"We never give up on each other."

And, we don't.  When we get up to our ears in emotions, one of us will say to the other, "we never give up on each other." 

I have her back and she has mine.

I am literally sitting here listening to my 8 year old call me to the bathroom for the 10th time. Nighttimes are hard.  A child that can give herself a shower, get herself dried off, and cloth herself, but still those emotions are strong.  When we are tired, the logic of just dealing with what we need to can just melt into those emotions.  

She's 8.  She will learn.  She has time.  But, for now, I head to help her out of the shower. I'll give her Grace again as she was an amazing kiddo this WHOLE weekend.  She was a responsible leader with her playdates and kind a generous with her help and love to our family and puppy. I love that child and I choose to help her pick up those emotional puddles tonight. 

She can try again tomorrow for her fourth day of 3rd grade. Grace.

Love to you all!


Lulu's Mom




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