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 explain why I fully believe that the popular parenting teachings of today are not based on a proper understanding of how God would have us be in relationship with our children. God is about relationships — attaching and not detaching, connecting and not disconnecting.
Too often parents are taught that their discipline choices can even guarantee the salvation of their children. This is not only not our job, it’s God’s job alone. 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.
God is about relationships — attaching and not detaching, connecting and not disconnecting.
We are the first gardeners in our children’s lives. If we examine the parable of the sower and the seeds, we see that there are four types of soil on which the seeds of the Gospel can fall. In order to prepare good soil, we need to pull weeds (distinguishing between pretty weeds and immature fruits) and we need to be careful not to put rocks, or stumbling blocks, in their hearts. One way of freeing a parent to do their job of parenting without pressure to produce certain results is for parents not to be judged by the behavior of their children, but by their reaction to it.
Parents need not be judged by the behavior of their children but 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. Rather than trying to be God to our children, I recommend doing what we are already called to do — following Jesus and His example as we relate to our children and make disciples.
Parent-centered is no more Biblically sanctioned than child-centered parenting. Believers are challenged to be Christ-centered in all things and 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.
A believer should extend the fruit of the Spirit to their children — not expect it from them.
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. The consequences of not heeding this warning are quite weighty.
Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to produce fruit in a Believer’s life. The fruit of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. To expect these from a child is an unrealistic expectation; even mature Believers often struggle in these areas. How can we expect our children to cheerfully produce fruit that is only growing in us because of the faithful work of the Holy Spirit?
Grace-Based Discipline is more about you as a parent than your child.
It is about modeling appropriate behavior, 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.