Book: Grace Based Parenting - Excerpt

The following is an excerpt from
Grace Based PARENTING:
Set Your Family Free
By Dr. Tim Kimmel

What does a grace-based family look like?

Grace-based parents spend their time entrusting themselves to Christ. They live to know God more. Their children are the daily recipients of the grace these parents are enjoying from the Lord. If you watch them in action, they appear to be peaceful and very much in love with God. They are especially graceful when their children are hardest to love. Their advice to their children would be a mixture of:

  • "You are a gift from God, go make a difference."
  • "You may struggle doing the right thing sometimes, but you're forgiven."

When it comes to boundaries, their exhortation to their children would be: "If it feels good, examine it." When it comes to God, they feel they need to seek Him more every day. Most of the time, they're just grateful people. God has something to say to them: "…those who are right with God will live by trusting him" (Romans 1:17, Holy Bible, New Century Version).[i]

Grace-based families are a breath of fresh air. They process their day-to-day life with an air of confidence that comes from knowing that God profoundly loves them. The key characteristic of grace-based families is that they aren't afraid. They are especially unafraid of all of the evil around them. They take their cues straight from King David's playbook:

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me" (Psalm 23:4, emphasis mine).

This changes the way children view their parents and the choices they make on their behalf. It also gives their children a much more attractive view of their parents' faith. Parents who operate by grace instead of by a checklist or popular opinion are a lot easier for their children to trust. And when your child's world is falling apart, they are more inclined to turn to parents whose primary description is "grace."

Grace-based parents have a keen awareness of their feet of clay. They understand their own propensity toward sin. This makes the grace and forgiveness they received from Christ much more appreciated. It stirs them to love and good deeds for the right reasons. They aren't driven by guilt and a need to do penance. The last thing they want to do is stand in judgment of struggling people. They see themselves in these people and understand just how much of God's love they have received. They are more inclined to want to love these people and care for the genuine needs in their life.

This sounds a lot like how Jesus lived His life. He, who knew no sin, became sin for us, that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. [ii]

God's Path of Grace

I'm urging you to raise your children the way God raises His. The primary word that defines how God deals with His children is grace. Grace does not exclude obedience, respect, boundaries, or discipline, but it does determine the climate in which these important parts of parenting are carried out. You may be weird and quirky, but God loves you through His grace with all of your weirdness and quirkiness. You may feel extremely inadequate and fragile in key areas of your life, but God comes along side you in those very areas of weakness and carries you through with His grace.[iii] You may be frustrated, hurt, and even angry with God, but His grace allows you to candidly, confidently, and boldly approach His "throne of grace."[iv] His grace is there for you when you fail, when you fall, and when you make huge mistakes.

This kind of grace makes all the difference in the world when it's coming from God, through you, to your children. Children brought up in homes where they are free to be different, vulnerable, candid, and make mistakes learn firsthand what the genuine love of God looks like.

Grace frees you up to take your cues from God on all of the big decisions you face in raising your kids. One of the characteristics of God's grace is how much latitude He grants within His clear moral boundaries to make choices. Grace allows you to tailor your parenting style and decisions to the unique bent of your child.[v] God is a God of variety, and He deals with us accordingly.

Take zebras. God hasn't painted the same stripes on any of them. Every person's fingerprints are original. He hasn't let two snowflakes drop from the sky that were identical. He hasn't painted any two sunsets the same. He's an original God who wants to have an original relationship with you and your children.

Showing a Little Latitude

God will even let you tailor your discipline style to one that works best with your child, with your personal history, and with what the context calls for. When it comes to evangelizing your children, once again His grace is amazing. You can actually wait on God to move in your children's lives and not let your fears incline you to jump the gun or give Him a little help. When it comes to educating your children, His grace can lead you to many options-all of them excellent-because you are being led by your confidence in Him rather than your fears of your culture.

Speaking of fears, if your child attends the public school system, a grace-based family makes it easier for them to succeed because you aren't intimidated by the inherent shortcomings inside the public school system. And if you aren't afraid of what's out there, it's a lot easier for your children to thrive spiritually inside the antagonistic environment they might encounter at school.


The truth that is an inseparable part of grace will help you determine where to set the boundaries in their lives. God's moral law is non-negotiable, but how you apply it in things like entertainment, dating, clothing, styles, and fads is easier when you're responding from a passionate relationship with Christ rather than some checklist made up by someone who's never met you or your children. Decisions are passed through the filter of God's grace. God helps grace-based parents see what matters and what doesn't matter; what is an issue and what isn't an issue. His grace helps you see whether to write the rules in pencil or in blood. Your children will be the daily recipients of the number one characteristic of God that has drawn people to Him since the Creation.

© Copyright 2004-2010 Dr. Tim Kimmel