I am often asked this question after teaching a parenting class. Ironically, when you establish a clear set of household boundaries, the expression of grace becomes easier – not harder! In fact, if you don’t clearly set the rules at home, children rarely even recognize the grace they’re receiving.
First, you must establish – and enforce – boundaries. This must be the rule rather than the exception. Then – and only then – you may find instances in which you allow the boundaries to change in healthy ways. For example, if your child is given a clear bedtime, that should be enforced nightly. Don’t get caught up in the “I need one more glass of water!” syndrome. Bedtime needs to be predictable and enforced. Once it is, however, then it becomes meaningful and special to announce on certain special occasions that grace will be extended for a special outing, movie, or just time to hang out with the family.
When dealing with enforcing those boundaries, the same thing applies. You can reflect the nature of God’s grace to your children, but only if the norm is to follow through with the consequences you have set forth. You’ll find that your children better appreciate both boundaries and grace when they understand what to expect. Grace-based parenting…works!