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  • Matt McMullen

Rule bound or grace filled parenting?

“Perfectly balanced, as all things should be.” Thanos


Ok. Maybe quoting Thanos on a parenting blog isn’t the right idea. But you get the point – balance is important. Last week we posted about a study about with the mental health of our children and how it specifically relates to and is dictated by their relationship with us as parents. If you missed it, check it out here.


One of the keys the study mentions is authoritative parenting. “Rule bound, disciplined parenting…effectively discipline their children, while also displaying affection and responding to their needs.” Authoritative parenting can be described as warm and involving, using reasoning and induction, democratic participation, and good natured but with clear rules and guidance. If differs from authoritarian parenting, which can be described as verbally hostile, uses corporeal punishment, nonreasoning, punitive strategies and directiveness.


We believe it’s important for us to look to Scripture to set a foundation on how we should parent our children in God-honoring and God-reflecting ways. Let's start here:


Deuteronomy 6.6-9

And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.


Ephesians 6.4

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.


When you look at verses like these, along with the many other parenting related verses in Scripture, you see that there seems to be balance in the way that we’re called to raise children.


1.    Structure in setting a disciplined following of the Lord and his commands.

2.    Warmth and love in the way that we do this.


If we’re to bring our kids up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, that absolutely looks like clear, rule bound, disciplined parenting. Setting boundaries for our kids on what is and isn’t acceptable and keeping them accountable to it. Or in other words – be a parent. You run the house. You set the rules. Not your kiddos. I'm sure you've heard this before but I'll remind us again - before we're called to be their buddy, we're called to be their parent.


But Jesus also likes to deal with our heart and motives. Paul challenges parents and essentially is saying it this way in Ephesians 6 – “Hey, raise your kids right. The way God wants to you to. Helping them learn what God’s word says, how to follow it, and knowing that there’s repercussions for not doing so. But when you do it, do with without a heavy hand. Do it with love and gentleness. Use grace, cause you, too, have received a lot of grace.”


Romans 2:4 tells us that it’s the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. I’m thankful for God’s kindness in my life. His firm, but loving kindness that has drawn me to repentance of my wrongdoing so that I can be in right relationship with him.


So in parenting, let’s have a balance. Set clear rules and boundaries, but operate in love, warmth and grace, making sure to take care of the physical and emotional needs of our children.


Practical Tip: Set clear rules and boundaries, but operate in love, warmth and grace, making sure to take care of the physical and emotional needs of our children.

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