How To Talk To Your Kids About Grace

How To Talk To Your Kids About Grace

“Please can I have grace! Pleeeeeeease! Can I PLEASE HAVE GRACE?!?” 

My child begged me for grace, after she disobeyed me and felt the impending doom of the consequences. Which, in this case, was just to be sent to her room. Here’s a parenting tip that’s been a life-saver: for an extremely extroverted child like mine, simply removing her from people feels like prison. Works every time.

But she plead for grace the entire, apparently excruciating, walk to her room. 

Grace is something we’ve been talking about for years in our home along with words like mercy and judgement.

But how do we explain and demonstrate grace, mercy, and judgement as we parent our kids? What’s the difference between these religious words anyway? Is it too late to understand and explain these ideas to my kids? 

First of all, it’s never too late to understand grace, no matter how old your kids are. And secondly, when we use terms involving ice cream, anyone can get it. Let me explain.

My friend and pastor unpacks these concepts like this: say your child does something they are not supposed to do and deserves a consequence. For instance, your child steals Pokémon cards along with a wad of cash from his big brother’s room. Which may have definitely happened in our home. 

Judgement would be getting the consequence he deserves for his actions. He would have to return all said items, humbly apologize for stealing , and write 20 sentences saying, “I will not steal and will honor my brother’s possessions.” 

If we were to extend mercy in this situation, we would actually remove the punishment/consequence that was a result of his actions. He might have to apologize, but mercy would remove the punishment and no sentences would have to be written. 

If we extended grace to my boy in this Pokeman and cash stealing instance, not only would we remove the punishment (mercy) but grace would go ahead and hand him an ice cream cone!

Judgement gives the due punishment.
Mercy removes the punishment.
Grace not only removes the punishment, it then (unbelievably) gives a very undeserving gift. 

Grace is just that: unbelievable. It’s this tender divine assistance from God, given for our growth and development, right in the middle of our failures and flaws. 

I don’t understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.
— Anne Lamott

Grace is a big delicious scoop of ice cream when our hands are still sticky from stealing cookies from the jar. And when we truly understand grace, we are humbled beyond belief. We are faced with our own rotten, undeserving nature, and we are overcome by gratitude and hope.

Grace changes us.

So we try to talk about these three ideas a lot in our home. And when we show grace or mercy, we have the opportunity to illustrate how God so often treats us. Mercy and grace are part of the beautiful and stunning currency of the kingdom of God. I am so unbelievably grateful. And I want my children to understand all of this too.

So dearest parent, may you have the wisdom for when and how to use judgement, mercy, and grace. May you be confronted, often, with the beauty of God’s grace and gifts everywhere in your life. May we grab for grace as we try to figure out how to parent well.

We’re all in this together; thank goodness there’s grace for it all!

Amy Seiffert’s book “Grace Looks Amazing On You” comes out April 7. Available for pre-order at all major book stores.

Amy Seiffert