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Grace-Based Discipline

by Crystal Lutton
author of Biblical Parenting, Grace Based Living, and founder of Arms of Love Family Fellowship

Grace-Based Discipline (GBD) is a parenting style which is biblically supported and rooted in the New Testament teachings of grace. In my book, Biblical Parenting, I address the popular parenting teachings of today and expose how they are not based on a proper understanding of how God would have us be in relationship with our children.

Our job as parents is to prepare the hearts of our children to be good ground for the seed of the Gospel which is our privilege to plant, not to produce perfectly behaved Stepford children. Parents should not be judged by the behavior of their children, they should be judged by their reaction to it.

The Bible is unusually silent on parenting issues except to charge parents with the responsibility to raise their children unto the Lord and to grant them the authority to do so. How to parent is left up to each parent, and I believe the best choice is to model our parenting after the style of Father God. My book discusses this idea in greater detail and also provides tools for parenting in a non-punitive way.

Parent-centered is no more biblically sanctioned than child-centered parenting. Believers are challenged to be Christ-centered in all things. This should also apply to parenting. A believer should extend the fruit of the Spirit to their children--not expect it from them. A condition of grace for the believer is one of unquestioned relationship with the Father. A condition of grace for a believer's child should be no less.

Jesus told a parable about a servant who was forgiven much and then refused to forgive another who owed him much less. We are the servant who has been forgiven much. Forgive your fellow servant, your child, who owes you the debt of not having come when called or flexing his two-year-old budding independence by yelling "No!" We are warned in the parable what will happen if we refuse to forgive, and the consequences of not heeding this warning are quite weighty.

It is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to produce fruit in a believer's life. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. To expect these from a child is an unrealistic expectation; even mature believers often struggle in the production of these fruit. How can we expect our children to cheerfully produce fruit that we struggle to produce and that is only growing in us because of the faithful work of the Holy Spirit?

Grace-Based Discipline is about modeling, being kind and firm, teaching (discipline), correcting (verbally admonishing), respecting and being respected in a way that can only come from relationship. The right relationship you create with your child foreshadows the right relationship your child seeks with his creator.

Article first published in the Inaugural Issue of The MOM Report, August 2001.

copyright 2005 by Crystal Lutton
Used by permission

Crystal is the mama of five children. She is author of Biblical Parenting. Visit her website at http://www.aolff.org.

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